The Society for News Design is excited to announce that Suzie Ford is joining our lineup of speakers for the SND Charlotte workshop on April 19-21 in Charlotte, N.C.

Ford and her husband, Todd, founded NoDa brewing six years ago. The couple now boasts one of the largest and most successful breweries in North Carolina. NoDa Brewing invested nearly $7 million in 2015 on an expansion that included leasing a 32,000 square foot warehouse, nearly tripling the size of its original location.

The Fords are very active in the craft beer community and amongst the most vocal supporters of Craft Freedom, a bill that aims to give local breweries more control over their distribution.

SND.org’s Jon Wile chatted with Suzie about quitting her day job to start a brewery, how the couple continues to push itself and what they look for when designing labels for a beer can.

HOW DID NODA BREWING COMPANY COME TO BE? My husband and I were both tired of corporate America — both of our companies had been purchased — and we wanted to do something together, to be in control of our future.

ONE OF OUR WORKSHOP THEMES IS RISK. YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND CERTAINLY TOOK A RISK OPENING NODA BREWING. HOW DID YOU MEASURE RISK VERSUS REWARD? The answer honestly looking back on it makes no sense. We didn’t measure it. We invested 100% of our 401(k) into starting the brewery, and we didn’t really think about “what if this doesn’t work?” We just believed in ourselves and knew failure wasn’t an option.

WHAT METRICS DID YOU USE TO MEASURE SUCCESS? Prior to our first anniversary, we won a Great American Beer Festival silver medal for Coco Loco (no gold was awarded and our beer couldn’t qualify for the gold based on ingredients). That was big. Then two years later, in 2014, we won the gold medal for Hop, Drop ‘n Roll at the World Beer Cup — a.k.a. the Oscars of beer — in the American IPA category. We had the best IPA in the world!

EVEN NOW THAT YOU’VE FOUND SUCCESS, HOW DO YOU AND TODD KEEP PUSHING YOURSELVES? We strive to keep improving our beer and ensure we don’t rest on our laurels. We are doing more and more analysis on the beer during fermentation and even after it is packaged (both cans and kegs) to not only have the best product out there on Day 1, but also on Day 21 when someone finally cracks open that can or enjoys a pint from their local pub. We are investing in lab equipment and upgrading our lab to take us to the next level.

HOW FAMILIAR DOES A DESIGNER NEED TO BE WITH YOUR PRODUCT TO DESIGN A BEER CAN LABEL FOR NODA? Somewhat familiar. We definitely have a theme and feel. It’s important to keep the look in the family of cans — our banding on the top of the cans — so that you can spot them across a crowded grocery store. Past that “ribbon” on the top, the color needs to stand out from our existing cans to avoid confusion.

SCAG 2016

AND, OF COURSE, WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE NODA BEER TO DRINK AND LABEL TO SEE? To drink is tough because it changes so often. My go-to can is Jam Session. Love that beer. Of our year-rounds, that can is also my favorite design. Lady Jam, as I like to call her, calls your name when you see her and is a great conversation starter. My favorite can that we’ve ever done is Stop, Collaborate and Glisten (above).

Register now

About SND Charlotte

• Don’t miss your chance to UNITE & REBEL, register today: Register
• Book your hotel room (before they run out!): Use the SND discount link
• Check out the lineup of speakers we’ve announced for the workshop. What a team!
• Don’t miss the Think Before You Make pre-conference day at the U.S. National Whitewater Center