Bow and Arrow Brewing Co. is a 4.5-year-old beer hall and brewery located in
Albuquerque, New Mexico. With the onset of COVID-19, Bow and Arrow had to quickly
transition to online-only to-go orders, building its own system to handle online sales. The
innovation didn’t stop there, with Bow and Arrow finding new ways to engage and draw-in
customers with outdoor seating options, new beer lines, merchandise, and more. Bow and
Arrow Brewing also stands out as the first Native-American and woman-owned brewery.
We recently talked to Shyla Sheppard, Founder of Bow and Arrow and a former recipient of the National Center’s 40 under 40 award, to learn more about how the brewery has adapted during COVID-19. We hope you enjoy our conversation with Shyla!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Shyla Sheppard. I’m a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation and was raised on the Fort Berthold Reservation in Western North Dakota. I earned my Economics degree from Stanford University and completed the Social Impact Investing Executive Program at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, as well as the National Association of Small Business Investment Companies’ (NASBIC) Venture Capital Institute (VCI). I worked as a venture capital investor in the Southwest in social impact investing for nearly a decade before starting Bow & Arrow.
I’ve resided in New Mexico since 2005 and if I’m not at the brewery, you can find me working in our garden, orchard, or baking something sweet. Recognition includes 2011 NCAIED 40 Under 40, 2012 40 Under 40 NM Business Weekly, NAIOP Eagle Award recipient for Excellence in the Retail Development category for the brewery, 2018 Woman of Influence by Albuquerque Business First, multiple Best of The City awards from Albuquerque The Magazine, 2019 Break-Out Brewer recognition by Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine, and 2020 Local Hero - Beverage Artisan for Craft Beer by Edible New Mexico.
2. Tell us a little bit about how you got the idea to open Bow and Arrow.
After investing in other people’s ideas for almost a decade, I learned that startups are a lot of work and it better be something you enjoy. I had an introduction to craft beer in college and my curiosity led to me learning more about the brewing process and eventually the industry. I also felt I could bring something unique to the craft beer industry, so I left my position with the investment fund to focus 100% on starting the business.
3. Tell us a little about Bow and Arrow.
Bow & Arrow Brewing Co is a 4.5-year-old brewery and beer hall based in Albuquerque, NM. We specialize in wild, sour and Southwest-inspired beers. Customers may enjoy our products in our onsite beer hall where we brew all of our own beer on a 15-bbl brewing system or find our products in retailers including Whole Foods, Total Wine & More, and other popular locally owned shops in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos. An interesting fact we learned after opening is that Bow & Arrow is the first Native American woman-owned brewery.
We produce and sell beer and hard sparkling water. Beers include hazy IPAs, pilsners, pastry-inspired stouts and sours, among many other styles, as well as premium wine-barrel and foeder-aged beers infused with Indigenous ingredients including foraged neomexicanus hops, Navajo Tea and sumac berries. We’ve also launched Desert Water, a Hard-Sparkling Water.
4. How have you been managing the pandemic? What measures are you taking to keep people safe?
We were restricted to to-go sales from mid-March through mid-June. We faced supply-chain issues and longer than usual lead-times for the 32-oz crawler cans that we were heavily reliant on to sell to-go beer, among other challenges.
Breweries and restaurants were allowed to open outdoor patios in New Mexico at 50% occupancy in mid-June. I secured approval for a temporary patio expansion from the City of Albuquerque where we were able to erect a temporary barrier in our parking lot adjacent to our existing patio to add additional seating.
In preparation for re-starting onsite service, we developed a re-opening plan that addressed COVID-safety precautions and our new standard operating procedures, which included providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), enhanced sanitation practices, outdoor restrooms and hand washing station, daily wellness checks, etc., and reviewed the plan in detail with the team over Zoom. When a customer arrives, we review our policies and procedures with them before they are allowed on the premise. While we are currently allowed to open our interior space at 25% occupancy, we’ve delayed re-opening the inside and continue with patio-only service until the infection rates are at a lower level and we feel comfortable with the final details of our interior re-opening plan.
5. How are your online sales going?
COVID has been huge motivation to get our online shop and online to-go ordering for pickup in place. We developed our website and online ordering systems ourselves and acted quickly as COVID restrictions came into play. You can order merchandise for direct shipment through our website at bowandarrowbrewing.com, which includes masks, hats, t-shirts, pins, bottle openers, etc. Unfortunately, we are not legally allowed to ship alcohol, but we offer near contactless pickup ordering through our Beer To Go site. It’s been fun to see our merchandise travel all around the country and the world.
6. How is Bow and Arrow involved with the community?
We contribute and give back where we can. Most recently, we raised funds to purchase hand sanitizer that we provided to front line workers and to elders on the Navajo Nation.
7. Are you planning to open other Bow and Arrow locations?
We are still in the process of opening our first off-site taproom, which will be in Farmington, New Mexico. Due to COVID, we delayed this project and pivoted to purchasing a new canning line so that we could expand our visibility and sell our beer through new channels, which has been critical over the last few months. We moved quickly in June to order and commission our new canning line and met our goal of having canned beer on retail shelves by 4th of July weekend. It’s been fun and challenging to develop new brands and visuals for the cans. We’ve been featured on the cover of our industry magazine, The New Brewer, as well as New Mexico Magazine, along with press coverage in The New York Times, CNBC, Forbes, Glamour, Fodor’s, Craft Beer & Brewing and The Guardian, among others. It’s been great to see our brand resonate across a broad range of people and stands out. While COVID has brought many challenges, I’m excited and hopeful about our future.
8. Anything else you would like to include?
Check us out at bowandarrowbrewing.com to keep up to date!