Local entrepreneur speaks out to young women, encouraging them to be all they can be
In addition to founding the popular Mountain Crest Brewing Company, Manjit Minhas, 31, co-owns and oversees the daily activity of a United States beer company named Minhas Craft Brewery, officially making her and her brother the youngest brewery owners in the world. In an inspirational speech for Young Women of Inspiration on Nov. 16, Minhas shared the struggles she has faced in her career.
“It’s empowering because it’s not stereotypical,” Minhas told an audience of about 50 women. “A lot of people would always assume that I was a representative or the saleswomen.”
Born and raised in Calgary, Minhas attended the University of Calgary and graduated with an engineering degree. Owning her own beer company was not something she ever thought she would do, as she planned to work in the oil and gas industry.
“As a young woman, you don’t ever dream of owning your own company. It feels too farfetched,” Minhas said.
Having no partners and no investors, Minhas made the choice to invest all of the profits back into the company to make it grow to what it is today.
“We operate on a high-volume, low-profit model,” Minhas said. “We have no debt. Everything we own is ours.”
Minhas and her brother entered the competitive brewery industry 12 years ago.
“People ask me, ‘Would you do it now?’” Minhas said. “I still would have done it then when I was 20 because you have a different attitude when you’re younger.”
Reflecting on the past, Minhas said being younger and having an attitude of “no-holds-barred” can help you get further because you’re not scared of what might happen.
“I think it’s easier to roll with the punches when you’re younger and when you have a lot more energy.”
The effects of Young Women of Influence
Irena Stropnik, a director with Scotiabank, attended the event. She had the privilege of introducing Minhas to the audience and shared a little bit about who she is as a person.
“I’m going to talk about Scotiabank and the importance of young women getting opportunities to network and develop themselves,” Stropnik said with an excited smile before taking the stage.
“She’s very young and has had a lot of success,” Stropnik said about Minhas. “I’m trying to understand how she’s done that and balanced her personal life.”
Kristen Brown, 31, attended the event and devotes time to helping the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank. She was nominated last year and won an award at this event for being one of Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40.
Brown said she attends these events because it’s a great place to meet people and to expand her network.
Jackie Muller, a colleague of Brown’s, revealed why Brown won her award.
“(Brown) is tireless in her efforts at the law firm and her working hours for the food bank were even greater than what she does now,” Muller said.
Brown was volunteering with underprivileged families, and something she said caught Muller’s attention.
“(Brown) said, ‘I knew that if I didn’t do my best that a family would go hungry,’” Muller said.
A support system
Since Minhas is a wife, a mom, a daughter and a business owner, finding the right balance is a challenge.
She said the most supportive people in her life are her brother and her husband.
Her average day starts at around 5:30 a.m. and ends at 11:30 p.m. Minhas relies on her parents to take care of her two-year-old daughter.
“My parents are a great support system. Without them I don’t think I’d be able to do as much as I do,” Minhas said.
As her brewery has seen solid success, many questions have been asked about her business philosophy. The result is a new book written by Minhas and her brother, Brewing Up a Damn Good Story, which reflects Mountain Crest’s commonly known slogan of “Damn Good Beer.”
Minhas saw it as an eye-opening experience and a neat project to undertake with her brother.
“As we are the youngest of the brewery owners, we thought we would play on words for the title of our book,” Minhas said.
The advice that Minhas would give anyone would be to do what makes you happy, whether you make money at it or not.
“It’s too short of a life and too short of days to do something you don’t like,” Minhas said.