This month, we’re excited to introduce a young entrepreneur in the city taking a different route, his name is Jon Renthrope and he is one of the brains behind Cajun Fire. “My passion is driven by an urge to experience new things, improve the quality of life, and engage others in something new. To me, there is no greater joy than introducing someone to something new that they enjoy. Call it hospitality, call it being a good neighbor or friend, to me turning your passion into someone else’s passion is the best joy I have experienced. I view creating craft beer as an art form and ones palettes are my canvas.” You can meet Jon this month at our October Professional Meet-Up at Diva Dawg on October 30, and yes he will have something for your palettes!
Jon, a 25-year-old New Orleans native, graduated from St.Augustine in 2006 and received his BA in Political Science from University of Florida in 2010. Growing up he had his mind set on being a dentist, but as you can tell he decided on a different plan.
Morgan: What is your passion now?
Jon: My passion is driven by an urge to experience new things, improve the quality of life, and engage others in something new. To me, there is no greater joy than introducing someone to something new that they enjoy. Call it hospitality, call it being a good neighbor or friend, to me turning your passion into someone else’s passion is the best joy I have experienced. I view creating craft beer as an art form and ones palettes are my canvas.
Morgan: When did you decide that you were interested in taking the path of an entrepreneur?
Jon: I had the blessing to deviate from my dentistry path (not by choice of course, UF was #1 party school in nation at the time) and I took up Political Science as a major. Needless to say those courses and my genuine interest in history created a new understanding of what I had been taught (or not taught) in the past. It’s ironic how things work.
Morgan: What are 2 of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced thus far in your professional life?
Jon: Self-doubt and the fear of leaving “structure”.
Morgan: What are 2 major regrets you have, if any, that pertain to getting to where you are now?
Jon: Personally, I do not like to harbor on regrets. I think unwanted experiences yield favorable outcomes even if we do not notice their worth for years. Had I not made the choices I made in the past I possibly would not be here and have the family and friends in my life that I love.
Morgan: Are there things in your social or personal life that you’ve had to temporarily retreat from because of your professional goals?
Jon: I have a love hate relationship with what you have to do to sustain an income. To put it short, being an entrepreneur and that career option are at constant odds. As far as social life, as long as you keep your word, the people who value your relationships understand that you sometimes are not as flexible as you once may have been.
Morgan: Are you active in any organizations, business/professional development groups or services?
Aside from networks like NolaBlackProfessionals.com and fraternal groups, I have had the privilege to be engaged in great incubator programs like inNOLAvation and Idea Village. I am also an active member of the American Brewers Association. Surrounding yourself with diverse minds and reaching out to organizations like these is very helpful and healthy to developing a solid foundation and assisting your fellow entrepreneur.
Morgan: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 25 years?
Jon: 5 years, I see myself making some of the most richly complex and pioneering beers in the south. 10 years, I see myself heading workshop programs which teach people of all ages to fully chase and flush out their ideas. 25 years, I see myself in full-blown environmentalism and possibly operating a restaurant.
Morgan: What advice do you have for young African-American entrepreneurs and creative minds like yourself?
Jon: As cliché as it sounds, be yourself! Keeping an open mind and an open ear takes you further than a buck. Control what you can control and set weekly objectives. At some point (it WILL happen); you will be offered constructive criticism, which may not suit what you expect to hear. Stay humble and accept that you are never too experienced to learn. Being an entrepreneur is a great way to learn from yourself and discover what makes you unique. It’s a challenging journey, but it is fulfilling on the most fundamental level. Most of all; do something that excites and means something to you.
Morgan: Any final words to our professionals?
Jon: Life is too short to drink something bland. Anyone who assumes they aren’t a beer drinker, I accept the challenge to change that perspective. Watch us grow, visit DrinkCajunFire.com!