Boojum Brewing entrepreneur of the year

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR — Boojum Brewing took home the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce’s Entrepreneur of the Year award. Pictured from left to right are Woody Baker, Corrine Baker, Chamber of Commerce President CeCe Hipps, Kelsie Baker and Boojum Finance Director Elisa Tatham. Not pictured is co-owner Ben Baker.

Boojum Brewing Company, the Haywood County brewing operation with a taproom in downtown Waynesville, was awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year award by the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce at its annual dinner last week.

The Haywood County Chamber of Commerce awards Entrepreneur of the Year to an individual whose entrepreneurial spirit exemplifies a significance within the community. The company, while relatively new, has quickly established itself as a prominent player in both the local economy and the Waynesville community.

“We chose to open Boojum in Haywood County because this is where we wanted to live,” co-owner Kelsie Baker said. “We’ve been so thankful that we made that decision because of the support from the community and just them welcoming us with open arms.”

In a video presented during the annual dinner, Baker described the many challenges she faced while attempting to make her brewery dreams a reality with her co-owners — her brother, Ben, and her parents, Woody and Corrine. She talked about the challenges many new business owners face when they take the plunge into running a company.

“Learning to delegate and trust other people to do things and do them the way that you want them done,” Kelsie said. “It has been really difficult, but it’s been really good for me.”

With so many other brewing companies in Waynesville, the Boojum team work hard to ensure their brewing company is able to compete.

“Sometimes it’s overwhelming and you get frustrated,” Kelsie said. “It seems like every week there’s another brewery.”

Kelsie said one of the hardest parts of opening the brewery was settling on a name. It was actually her dad who picked the winning name —he told her the story of the Boojum, a sort of greedy Appalachian sasquatch character with a penchant for gems.

“He is this big story in this area and we were like ‘that’s perfect. That’s got to be it,’” Kelsie said.

Opening the brewery is something that Baker wanted to do ever since she was in college in Boston. She did the research, quit her job and the family relocated to Haywood County to open the brewery. But no amount of research could have prepared her for what being an entrepreneur really meant.

“Being an entrepreneur, the biggest thing you sacrifice is that you never turn off,” Baker said. “When you own your own company, you have to be on all the time. Anything could happen and it never stops.”

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