Julius Makarewicz, 28
Life Story: Julius Makarewicz is nothing if not persistent. The Powell River native, whose parents left Poland when it was under martial law, dropped out of university because he felt he had to get out in the world to learn. Makarewicz, who originally came to Vancouver to attend SFU, badgered the HR department at customer research firm Vision Critical Communications Inc. until they gave him a job in sales. After working for a few other companies, he saw a gap in the adult beverage market; in 2015 he started working on a low-calorie, sugar-free, gluten-free vodka cooler.
The product (available in lime, cucumber mint and strawberry kiwi, with another flavour in the works) took B.C. private stores by storm, bringing a few competitors into the market on the way. “We’re the first unsweetened alcoholic ready-to-drink beverage made in B.C.,” Makarewicz says, noting that Nude is "at the beginning of a new category of alcoholic beverage that reflects better-for-you choices."
After more tireless work, Makarewicz got Nude Vodka Soda on BC Liquor Stores shelves this March.
The Bottom Line: Since it launched last July, Nude Vodka Soda has sold some 24,000 24-packs through the private channel in B.C., posting more than $1.3 million in retail sales. The company has three full-time employees and four contract staff.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
Read. If someone wants to learn how to run a company or raise money or be a master at marketing, there’s so much on it out there, you can just read books. But nobody does it because it sucks.
Your favourite book is…
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the Nike story. It doesn’t talk about the glories of Nike; it’s more about the early days and the shitty parts and the nitty-gritty, so I really like that one.
Your favourite TV show is…
A little-known fact about you is…
I rap in the shower.