In My Element: Julian Riley of Harlem Blue
In My Element is a series that highlights what motivates men to make an impact in their industry. From success to setbacks and everything in between, we share their stories to inspire you on your journey to being the best you can be.
- Who are you/what do you do?
My name is Julian Riley and I'm the founder and president of new craft beer company, Harlem Blue Beer.
- What’s one career challenged you faced and how did you overcome it?
There are many challenges to starting and running a business. My ‘north star’ is simply being relentless. When it was time to launch Harlem Blue, which is to say when I decided to put aside my fear and truly take a risk, the primary concern was making the best beer possible. I needed to find a seasoned and talented brewer with commercial experience that fit our brand aesthetic. First, I repeatedly sculpted and tweaked and edited and reworked and matured the elevator pitch of who our company was. What were our brand ethos, positioning and point-of-view? With a clarity of brand, I proceeded to talk with everyone I could find about brewing beer. When right, asking for recommendations of local brewers with commercial experience that may be available to grind with a new startup. After kissing several frogs, I found the perfect highly accomplished brewer to craft the liquid building stones of Harlem Blue.
3. What’s your favorite thing to do in your city?
Simple enough, but my favorite thing to do is socialize. I consider myself an urban social explorer. From museums and trips to the park -with my family or without-, to hanging at the bar in my neighborhood or some place new, partying in different circles, and talking to strangers, experiencing the new is what city life is all about.
- What’s your grooming regimen and what does it mean for you?
Like most men, or at least most of the guys I know, my grooming regimen has evolved consistently because of the women in my life. I'm 40-something now. High school girlfriends got me on to Aramis cologne (I stopped that),Air jordans, and brushing in my waves. That was back in the Murray's Nu Nile and wave cap days. I’ve never been much of a shaver since facial hair wasn't really been a big thing for me. My pops doesn't either; even though I know it's supposed to pass through your mom (no beard on her either). My college girlfriend enlightened me to not washing my hair everyday with shampoo, it strips something good from your hair though I'm not exactly sure what that is. My wife got me off greasy grease for my head, but hasn't been able to break me of biting my nails. And I actually found Frederick Benjamin pomade to be really good for me. I use it all the time and have for a few years now in addition to using the shampoo and conditioner a couple times a week.
- What’s one piece of advice that you would give to someone starting in your industry?
My advice for getting into the beer and alcohol business is largely the same for all careers: be thoughtful. Listen more than you talk, from the beginning. Know where you want to go, find someone, or several someones, who have done it well, and ask, follow, and mimic where it makes sense. And the 3 guiding principles of my company: Be Relentless (in energy and passion), Be Authentic (brand voice, position and how you engage your consumer), and have your own Flavor (own it). And for those that are more nuts and bolts, I personally focus on product, awareness and availability. That will guide you.
You can find Julian and his company on social media at @HarlemBlueBeer or visit the website for more information.