Samantha Lee is one of the owners of Hopewell Brewing Co., a Chicago go-to spot for balanced beer creations and a business that cares about people and community over individual gain.
Originally from Chicago, Samantha and co-founders Stephen and Jonathan met while attending the University of Illinois-Champaign. In the early 2000s, they began to take an interest in flavorful beer and began home brewing together – with admittedly mixed results.
But it wasn’t until after graduation and a long road trip out West touring the region’s many breweries that their bond strengthened, and a grand plan emerged: open a brewery of their own.
After a move to Portland, Oregon, then Brooklyn, and a stint in Philly, they returned to Chicago and started working on their vision of a brewery. After eight years of planning, Hopewell opened in 2016 and has been pleasing palettes ever since.
Hands down, Samantha and her team produce some of our favorite beer in the city and we were fortunate to first meet her during the 2020 Women’s Week of Logan Square which showcased all of the amazing woman-owned businesses that flourish in our great Chicago neighborhood.
Q: What advice would you give to someone starting a new business?
A: If you're starting a small business, I think it's great to rely on personal stories and voice before working with an external agency. This is not to say this might be a good step later down the line, but it's important to first get a sense of your own voice.
That way, if and when you're ready to work with professionals in the marketing industry, you have something concrete to work off of.
It's also incredibly important to not become too attached to ideas. Just because your logo/product/etc. has always been a certain way, doesn't mean it always has to be!
Q: Given Instagram’s changes to prioritize Reels and push more sponsored content, do you plan to adjust your content strategy?
A: The last few years have been the most difficult years for our business, so it's honestly hard to keep up with all these changes!
It's too bad that Instagram will make independent content harder to find, since it is the primary way that we and so many other small businesses stay connected to our customers. Businesses like ours don't often spend much on marketing, so as the platform continues to lean more heavily on sponsored content, I can't imagine it will be good for small businesses.
All that said, Instagram is currently a necessary component of our marketing strategy. We have adapted by creating more video content, and we post more often in stories. Overall, we've had to become more thoughtful about when, how, and what we post. We have other Hopewell team members who've gotten involved with our social media strategy as well, especially as it becomes more complex.
We want to thank Samantha for her time and advice. She has been and continues to be an advocate and supporter of fellow business owners in the Chicago small business community. Be sure to visit Hopewell Brewing Co. for their impeccably created beer and light and airy tap room. Cheers!