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Conversations with Varshay Jackson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Varshay Jackson. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
It all started when I used to work for my God Sister Jess Hilarious as her Driver & Road Assistant in 2018. She’s a famous comedian so she traveled the US doing tons of comedy shows. Each venue she was booked at she would have alcoholic beverages in her green room or dressing room. I always loved to experiment with those beverages and make cocktails. I always wanted to make something that taste good as well as looked good. So, I would garnish the drinks or fill the cups with the fruits that were in these rooms. I would make drinks for her as well as her guest. I often got asked if I was a bartender. I literally had no bartending experience whatsoever. Jess then said to me one day “Shay you ever thought about becoming a bartender?” That was the last thing on my mind, but after her and many others said that my drinks taste good it had become a thought in my mind. January 2020, I decided to take my tax return and sign up for Bartender Academy. I started Charm City Bartending Academy located on North Charles St in Baltimore city February 2020. I received so much knowledge through books and hands-on experience. On Friday March 13, 2020, I received a certificate of Completion that made me a Certified Bartender/Mixologist. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
After completing the bartender program on Friday, March 13, 2020, later on that day the Governor of the state of Maryland declared a state of emergency & almost everything would be shut down because of COVID-19. At that moment I honestly felt like I wasted my money on these bartending classes. I did my best to retain the knowledge that I learned. I often went back to my books as well as my flash cards that I created to study for test. Memorial Day weekend 2020 I decided to go to the liquor store and grab a few random items. I came home and I created a drink with those items and I used my neighbors as my guinea pigs. My neighbors told me that they’ve never had anything like this and that it was delicious. It was tropical-flavored and definitely packed a punch, so I decided to name it Paradise Punch for apparent reasons lol. That summer I decided to use my social media platform and post people’s reactions trying my drinks. That quickly got me a lot of attention. After getting so much attention I decided I needed to Brand myself & come up with a name. My Best Friend of 25-plus years helped me with that. That’s when Lady Shay’s Big Ass Bartending was born. I made deliveries all throughout Baltimore City (East & West). I even traveled to Baltimore County (Dundalk to Owings Mills). I booked my 1st Bartender gig in late June 2020 at a Backyard Barbecue where I was referred by a good friend. As I was bartending people were asking me for my business card & I didn’t have any. I then knew I needed a logo. I then reached out to CiaraBDesigns & she designed my one-of-a-kind logo. From that Backyard Barbecue, I landed my 1st wedding reception gig in August 2020. I was hired to provide open bar services for a Baltimore City Fire Fighter and his beautiful bride. I was so excited about that booking that I accidentally double booked myself for a 30th birthday party on the same day. I also did a private pool party at a Mansion in Reisterstown, Maryland for this really nice husband and wife. As things started to open back up, I was booked for about 6 more events before the year was out. I was very proud of myself on how I turned a global pandemic into a way to make money. 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a mobile bartender. I provide an unforgettable experience and I pride myself on cleanliness and satisfying my customer. I’m known for my Paradise Punch. I am most proud of the fact that I was able to build a business and keep it afloat in the midst of a global pandemic. I feel like my bubbly personality, professionalism and the fact that I am such a people person sets me apart from others. 

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
The only advice I have for anyone is to not be afraid. Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Don’t be afraid to walk into businesses and ask if you could leave flyers or business cards. Don’t be afraid to share anything that you’re doing on social media or to your friends and family. 

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