November 19 marks Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, dedicated to honoring female leaders in every industry. The Western industry is filled with entrepreneurial women worth celebrating, and Katie Beal Brown tops that list.
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day
As the CEO of Lone River Beverage Co., Beal Brown has made waves across the country with her brand of Ranch Water.
“A small-town girl from West Texas being able to disrupt such a massive industry is pretty crazy,” Beal Brown reflects.
Beal Brown isn’t the first in her family with a strong entrepreneurial drive. Roots of ingenuity go deep in her West Texas lineage.
“My family settled in West Texas over a hundred years ago, and we have a multi-generational ranch out in far West Texas,” Beal Brown reveals. “This lifestyle and the pioneering spirit go really far back in my family.
“My dad likes to say that my great, great grandfather changed the fate of our family when he patented a wire fence tightener,” she continues. “He was able to build a fence and tighten it and then accumulate wealth for his family by raising livestock.”
That fence tightener not only helped Beal Brown’s ancestors rebuild after a flood brought devastating losses but also changed the game for cattle ranchers across the nation. Generations later, people still rely on similar technology to build safe fencing for livestock.
“I think that pioneering spirit has kind of seeped down through all the generations of my family,” Beal Brown explains. “I’ve taken that spirit in a different direction. Not as much in the agriculture world, but still doing something that celebrates where I come from in far West Texas and what I believe that represents.”
Her drive to build a brand that uniquely captured her heritage started early, and her family’s support encouraged her to carry it through.
“I always felt like I wanted to do something entrepreneurial,” Beal Brown says. “There may be a lot of people out there that are smarter than me or have more resources, but my dad has always said, no one can outwork me. I really value work ethic, and I think a lot of that comes from growing up in this lifestyle.”
Big City Dreamin’
Shortly after marrying her husband, Tyler, the couple moved to New York. Beal Brown didn’t have a clear idea of the next step in her career path, but she needed to find a job—and she wasn’t afraid to push herself to new limits.
“I started networking with anybody that I possibly could and managed to land an interview at one of the bigger advertising agencies in New York,” Beal Brown recalls. “Advertising ended up being a really good fit for me, and, in a way, it was building the blocks to the journey that I’m on today because it gave me a lot of those tools to understand how brands are built and how to really identify and reach a consumer.”
At the same time as she was developing those key advertising skills, Beal Brown began developing the idea of the drink itself. Fittingly, the dream was born around a campfire.
“One weekend, we were upstate around a campfire, and we came up with the idea of putting ranch water in a package,” Beal Brown recalls. “At the time, we had started to see some of the hard seltzers emerge. We felt like there was an opportunity to create something that felt differentiated and was more akin to a beer. We leaned into that rugged masculinity versus the skinny cans and fruity flavors.”
In a market flooded with lemonades and berries, Beal Brown found inspiration in pure West Texas style—keeping it simple without sacrificing taste.
“We set out to create this product that could be differentiated in that category, but also provide the consumer with the convenience of drinking our favorite cocktail in a lot of these moments where you want a can in hand,” she explains. “The intention for me and the why was always to share where Ranch Water comes from and the culture behind it because it was so closely connected to my own heritage in the area.”
Telling the West Texas Story
For Beal Brown, Ranch Water has always been more than a drink. It’s a storytelling tool and a physical representation of the culture that raised her.
“When I would mention the town that I grew up in to people in New York, their eyes would glaze over,” Beal Brown recalls. “But when I would do it through Ranch Water, I was able to kind of share the legend behind it and talk a little bit more about the culture out there.”
That vision solidified for the Texas transplant as she began to share the legend of Ranch Water in New York.
“Ranch Water became something that I used to identify myself and share more about where I came from in a fun way,” she continues. “While the technical origins of ranch water aren’t really known, the legend in West Texas is that it was originally concocted in the 1960s by a wild haired rancher. After drinking it, he followed miles of Texas stars until he fell asleep under a pinon tree. It’s part of the culture out in West Texas.”
As the brand developed, Beal Brown found people were intrigued by the drink and its origins.
“There’s an intrigue in the name itself, in the bar call, but also the recipe originally being made with tequila, soda, and lime,” Beal Brown explains. “It’s very simple. It’s no-fuss type of cocktail, which I think represents the spirit of West Texans as well.”
“Living so far away from home, I was able to really crystallize what that lifestyle meant to me, but also what it represented to other people that were far outside of our community,” Beal Brown reveals. “That’s what I really worked to bring to life as we were building our brand.”
In addition to her personal motivation, Beal Brown found support from others who supported her pursuits.
“My journey has been filled with other women that gave me encouragement at a point where I really needed the courage to take the next big step,” Beal Brown shares. “Those were some of the most pivotal moments in my journey.”
One such moment occurred well before the brand’s public launch, in a surprising setting.
“I was at a happy hour one summer about four years before we launched Lone River,’ Beal Brown recalls. “I remember telling one of the leaders of the agency about the idea to put ranch water in a can. And she looked at me and she just goes, ‘Well, why the hell haven’t you done it yet?’ I thought, ‘Okay, if this woman that I respect so much in this industry thinks this is a good idea, then why not give it a shot and see what happens?’”
Women’s Entrepreneurship at Work
At its origin, Lone River Ranch Water was intended to be inherently masculine—a Texan drink that would stand out among hard seltzers.
“I wanted to create a brand that really spoke for itself, and I wanted it to intentionally feel very masculine,” Beal Brown explains. “I was nervous about being publicly associated with the brand because I didn’t want that to devalue the differentiation of our positioning.”
However, as she found her stride with Lone River, the female CEO learned that opening up about the brand’s origin and her own story added a layer of authentic that the public appreciated.
“Telling the layers of that story and peeling back that onion helps people connect with us,” she explains. “I think it helps people see us more as a real brand from a real place with a real story.
My involvement also makes it feel a bit more modern because the Western lifestyle has been historically very masculine. And same with the industry that we’re in—the beer industry.”
Beal Brown also realized that her unique position as a female company leader in a male-dominated field benefitted her and allowed her to help other women in similar areas.
“In the rooms I would walk into that were full of men where I was immediately underestimated, I could always exceed their expectations off the bat,” Beal Brown reveals. “Over time, that’s actually given me a great advantage.”
Leading Western Women
Through every phase of growth, Beal Brown has built a network of friends who support both Lone River and her leadership.
“It’s been amazing the people that we’ve been connected to, how much they’ve embraced us, and how they’ve taken the time to teach us about the different aspects of the Western lifestyle,” she shares. “I hope it allows me to really advocate for agriculture in my own way, on a large scale as I begin to understand the different facets of it and some of the challenges that it faces.”
With each new milestone of success come additional opportunities for Beal Brown to give back.
“In the past few months, I’ve really started to reflect about how we got here,” she explains. “I’ve realized that I can represent a lot of other female entrepreneurs, especially in the beer industry, whereI am one of very, very few. I have a real opportunity to help lift a lot of these women up in the industry and give them a platform to have opportunities like I did.”
As she looks to the future, she finds motivation to keep pursuing her dreams in the prospect of helping others.
“When I think about my purpose and what I really want to do, broadly speaking, it’s more about affording other women similar opportunities and helping them navigate some of those barriers—like funding or navigating partnerships—that prevent them from bringing an idea to the market,” Beal Brown shares. “Throughout this journey, I’ve been generous with my time and I’ve always tried to carve out time every week to connect with entrepreneurs in this space and pass on any advice or wisdom that I feel like I’ve gathered. Over the next few years, I hope there is a way for me to formally build that into a platform to kind of lift those opportunities up to a lot of other women.”
The growth opportunities for Lone Rover are plentiful, too. With the spirit of West Texas in every drink, there’s no end to the brand’s potential.
“As we think to the future, that pioneering spirit is something that’s not only in my family blood but also in our brand’s DNA,” Beal Brown remarks. “In everything that we look to do, I always want it to be from that challenger brand mentality.”
Lone River’s trademark has always been authenticity. Now, as an established name in the industry, Beal Brown is ready to keep making waves.
“I love going into other spaces and thinking about how we can disrupt them and provide the consumer with something new and different, but also something that feels real and authentic,” she continues. “In a universe where a lot of brands and products are coming from a boardroom, we offer something really special and different that we are consumers ourselves.”
A Family Affair
Beal Brown has built the Lone River brand not only from a consumer basis, but also with a family-first mindset.
“We created Lone River as a family business,” she explains. “That’s the way that a lot of Western lifestyle brands are created, too.”
As the business grew, so did Beal Brown’s family.
“While we were creating the brand, I had my first baby, Emily,” she reveals. “In the past seven months, I had my second baby girl. I think that has created a very different and modern dynamic. Having the family that I do who’s able to kind of go with the ebb and flow of our business, but also allow me to be a mom when I need to be, has been really important, too.”
That family focus changed Beal Brown’s view on business, too, as she focuses on longevity over immediate profits.
“There’s a different way you operate when you’re approaching a business as a family than as a corporate or more commercially driven individual,” she says. “You’re bringing a lot more of a value set into everything that you do.
“It also gives me a longer-term perspective on things as well,” Beal Brown continues. “As a mom, you’re always thinking about the next generation, and so it allows you to make decisions with that long term perspective in mind. We’re building their futures or building their world right now, so that’s really incredible.”
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