What do you do at Rhinegeist?
I’m the Brand Manager and I oversee the marketing department. I’m in charge of creating a team that manages and oversees almost everything that we put out visually on behalf of Rhinegeist. Idea being to make sure that what we create is reflective of who we want to be as a company and a brand.
We manage the creative for taproom events like our 4th Anniversary party, glassware, posters, can/bomber design, packaging design, apparel, photography, social media, displays that you might see in a store like Kroger, truck wrap designs, etc…..Basically anytime you see our logo when it’s done right!
We’re also responsible for Rhinegeist’s charitable outreach, hosting weekly Charitable Suds events, as well as larger fundraisers in the taproom!
What are some of the challenges that get thrown your way as Brand Manager?
One of our bigger day-to-day challenges is learning how to navigate all of the opinions. Everyone has an opinion on what’s “good marketing” and is vocal about it. From the smallest micro-decisions to an entire packaging overhaul. And I think that’s tough for the team sometimes. So you kind of put up a shield, build your armor.
Our employees have pride and you want to do right by them. That’s the bigger challenge. You want to do right by them, but you want to do right by the brand, as well. It’s a balance!
What did you have for breakfast?
Coffee and half a jelly donut with white icing.
What’s your ideal breakfast?
Piping hot coffee with cream and sugar.
No, it slows me down! *laughs*
Where’d you grow up?
Owensboro, Kentucky. It’s in Western Kentucky and is the BBQ Capital of the World.
Who decided that?
I don’t know, it was just on the plaque when I moved there *laughs*. I don’t even like the BBQ....
What’s your favorite sandwich?
I like the sandwich at Jimmy John’s with the turkey, the cucumber and the avocado, with no mayo. What number is that? Everyone who likes Jimmy John’s knows what that is.
Editor’s Note: Tracey was referring to the #12 “Beach Club,” which we can confirm is delicious.
You have a well-documented love of horses. Talk about that.
I love horses. My grandpa boarded horses in St. Louis and my dad has been riding horses since he was three years old. So I’ve always been around horses.
My first horse was a miniature pony named Porkchops. But my favorite horse is my dad’s Black Stallion named Looker.
How’d you end up here?
I’ve been on the advertising/agency side my whole career, working with a variety of organizations on the client-side. I was lucky enough to stumble upon the job posting at Rhinegeist. I couldn’t believe it. Had to throw my hat in the ring. I mean, there’s not a cooler brand in Cincinnati to work for.
How is it different working in-house at a place like Rhinegeist, then it is working for an agency?
I think a lot of challenges are the same, but on this side, there is an opportunity to be nimble and to make it work. I feel like on the agency side, we would talk that talk — we really wanted to be nimble and figure out how to make things fast, but we got stuck with too many frameworks and over-justification, over-thinking and too many opinions at the top. So what’s cool — and it’s also a challenge — is that at Rhinegeist we can just go do it. And if you don’t know how to do it, just try. That’s powerful and that’s a big opportunity for us.
Do you have a spirit animal?
Lone wolf! Intuition, freedom and intelligence.
What’s your favorite Rhinegeist beer?
Peach Dodo. It’s tart, crispy and fresh. It’s just good.
If you were a Rhinegeist beer, what would you be?
Woah, that’s intense. A Triple IPA?
*laughs* Because I think that my personality is wicked awesome and intense. And that beer label is badass.
How has your last name influenced your life?
So I love my last name, I’m blessed to have an awesome last name. It’s an easy conversation starter when you meet new people.
My dad though, Patrick Ireland, tries to pretend like we have this Irish heritage and culture, but we really just live in Kentucky. On St. Patrick’s Day, he drinks Guinness and puts on a heavy Irish accent. He sounds like a leprechaun. I’m Irish-Italian! It’s 50-50. And I’m really much more Italian. Sorry Dad.
What do you enjoy most about this place?
That’s a hard question. I don’t know how to explain it, but the first word that comes to mind is “zany.” I love the zany aspect of Rhinegeist, both in terms of coming to work everyday and the people who work here and then the zany aspect of the brand. It’s so quirky and there’s a level of eccentricity and science, it just oozes in everybody and everything that we do here. So I love being part of that and defining what that “zany” is everyday.
Is there a piece of Rhinegeist apparel you wear the most?
I sleep in the Puma tank. It’s my PJ top!
We’re about halfway through the interview. Anyone you want to give a shout out to?
My kids! Love you, Hudson and Elle. My twin daughters, ten years old. They’re my minions.
Any advice for other marketing leaders out there? You lead a pretty wacky group.
I came into this role with a ton of awesome experience, really good, strong experience. But you have to be open to learning. Lean in when you make new decisions and fail forward. Make a decision, move, learn from it and go!
Where did you go to college?
University of Kentucky.
Talk to me about when Outkast came to UK. I believe there’s a story to be told there?
I just remember that my college roommate was “in the scene,” and there was a club, but I didn’t go to it because I was afraid to use my fake ID. And later, Outkast called my college roommate and they were on my answering machine!
This was a long time ago ‘cause I’m the Granny here at Rhinegeist. It was before they were big. They came to Lexington and were hanging out. My roommate was always at the right clubs.
You’re one of two women who leads a department here at Rhinegeist. What’s that experience like, particularly in a male-dominated craft brewing industry?
I feel proud to be here and I feel humbled. Not as a woman, but as a human wanting to work in marketing and getting to work at Rhinegeist. Let me start there.
As a woman in a leadership role, I’ve certainly seen challenges over my career in the business world. They’re real. They exist. You just have to learn how to navigate and push through whatever that barrier may be.
I don’t feel those barriers here. I think Bob [Bonder, co-founder] and Bryant [Goulding, co-founder] want to do right by people and by their management team and they like to remain open and that creates the right environment for professional success.
Do you have a famous lookalike?
Well I have an identical twin sister, but she’s not famous. *laughs*
People say I look like — and I hate this answer — the wife from Dances With Wolves. I’ve had three people tell me that. I don’t see it and I don’t like it. Kevin Costner’s Native American wife. I think it’s my eyes and brown hair. “Fists with Hands” or something like that.
That would be Mary McDonnell. “Stands with a Fist”
Also, Tinkerbell. I just made that one up, because I’m small.
How tall are you?
5 foot. With a smile.
Are you the smallest person at the brewery?
There’s some small, petite women here and I think if they all took their heels off and their wedges, I think I might still be the smallest, but only by an inch.
What is a cool brand/company that inspires you?
I love what Allagash (brewery in Portland, Maine) does, if you look at the craft beer category. Everything they do is beautiful, sophisticated, high-quality, there’s also a culinary aspect to what they do. It’s top-notch.
I really love what Target does, from a product and visual merchandising perspective. How they showcase different designers, it’s amazing, it’s transformed that store and my buying habits.
What’s the best part of your personality?
That’s a tough one. I think I’m hilarious *laughs*. I’m good at making myself laugh.
What have you seen lately that you really dug? Could be anything: an ad, a poster, etc.
The Heineken ad, "Worlds Apart." Bringing forward that dialogue and the human element of both sides of each issue, it was beautiful.
That’s what I love about the world. Everybody has different opinions and they’re allowed to have different viewpoints. They’re allowed to, it’s OK. It doesn’t mean they’re right and that can get scary, but I like that they brought that forward.
What’s something about you most people don’t know?
I was obsessed with space and aviation when I was little. And I secretly wanted to be an astronaut or a pilot. So I went to space camp and took aviation lessons at the airport in high school. I was the only girl. I got to fly planes with a co-pilot. It was awesome.
I’d go in the mornings and there’d be two hours of whiteboard sessions with the pilot where you’re understanding mechanics and wind and all sorts of stuff. Then we’d go out and learn about the plane. It was weeks and weeks of training. It was awesome. I’d probably get nauseous now.
What do you do when you’re not 'Geisting?
I like to sleep *laughs*. Or I’m being a mom. I love soccer games.
Are you an embarrassing soccer mom?
I don’t think so, but my kids do. I can tend to be a loud supporter on the sidelines. Definitely yelling and clapping and jumping. But, hey, I have two kids and they’re scoring goals all the time because they’re great and it’s fun!
Where does the beauty of the brewery lie for you?
You know what I love? I love the back brew deck, when it’s quiet and clean and the blue bins are bubbling, fermentation at work. I love that. Right in the early morning, all this light coming in. And you know there’s something awesome happening, it’s cooking, there’s this huge, amazing process going on. But then there’s just this simplicity. I love that. There’s solitude and energy.
Talk to me about the marketing team.
I love the marketing team. It’s just a crazy squad of young guns. Varying, aggressive personalities. Lots of passion, lots of talent. Lots of wanting to do the right thing. Lots of energy. A lot of people’s first jobs. So there’s a lot of growth individually and for us as a team and that’s an exciting, dynamic environment to be a part of.
So you’re basically part boss, part mother hen?
Yes. And it’s tough!
Duh, Matthew McConaughy.
What’s your favorite bagel topping?
Hazel walnut cream cheese from Bruegger's.
If friends used three words to describe you, what would they be?
Sparky, intense and sweet.
What’s your favorite book?
I love Watership Down. It’s a classic. By Richard Adams.
What is it about Rhinegeist that you think resonates with people?
I think there’s an approachability aspect with the space and taproom. I think it starts there.
It’s an amazing space and an amazing product and there’s this logo that makes people go “what is that?!” It’s really cool. So there’s three elements working really tightly together and the beer is amazing. The quality is there from a product perspective, across the board.
And people who don’t know about craft beer, they come to the taproom and there’s this approachability and accessibility that we offer. It’s a communal place to hang out. I have a place to go if I want to do something with 15 people and, “Oh you don’t mind if I bring my kids in and they’re running crazy all over the place? Thank you.” *laughs*
I think it started when we first opened. And that’s why I start with the word approachability. It’s kind of all things, all flavors are welcome. It’s easy for some to say Rhinegeist is one thing, but we’re not. And I like that about the brewery and the brand.
What are you looking forward to about the future?
Ooh, that’s a big question! I’m looking forward to seeing where we go. Bob and Bryant, they don’t hold back. They’re dreamers. I can’t wait to see what’s next and to be part of it.