Made in Michigan: McClary Bros. Drinking Vinegars

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OAK PARK (WJRT) 11/18/15)--It's a Michigan made drinking vinegar that had everyone raising their glasses on the season premiere of Shark Tank.

"I definitely was trying to explain what my product is and that there definitely is a demand for it. Kevin didn't exactly agree and then him and Ashton got into it. And altogether it was really fun to watch it all play out," said Jess McClary, owner and founder McClary Bros. Drinking Vinegars.

McClary Bros. bills itself as a colonial era cocktail and soda mixer, available in five flavors, and traditionally known as a shrub.

"Craft cocktails are super-hot, and this is the easiest, simplest way to make one delicious if you don't have any experience in making craft cocktails," said McClary.

McClary strives to make her vinegars as Michigan made as possible. Her cranberries come from northern Michigan. She also sources from Keep Detroit Growing and farms in Imlay City.

"There's all natural ingredients, there's no artificial colors or preservatives. No junk in it, which is really spectacular," said McClary.

While McClary Bros. didn't get an investment from a Shark, the Oak Park based company still came out a winner.

"The Shark Tank affect is real and very powerful. It doesn't matter whether or not if you got a deal. You get up there and everybody gets to hear about how great you are," said McClary.

That exposure resulted in an instant boost for the three year old business.

"Normally we would have ten, 20, or 30 orders in a week and we had over 1,000 by the time we got to Monday morning," said McClary.

The demand hasn't let up. McClary Bros. now has shelf space in a variety of grocery stores around the country, and bottles are being shipped worldwide, each selling for around fifteen dollars. Before Shark tank, a team of five had a hand in making McClary Bros. That number is now up to sixteen, with more jobs possibly on the way.

"The best side effects of growing your business and getting bigger is that you're able to provide really quality jobs for people," said McClary.

"McClary Bros has opened up a lot of opportunities for different men and women. We've given jobs to people trying to get back into the workforce. It's just been astonishing how many people have been employed since this has taken off," said Semica Brady, and employee of Hopeful Harvest.

And McClary has two more employees waiting in the wings -- her five year old twins, Jack and Ben.

"They love it. They love shrubs and they're always opinionated about what they want and they each have their favorite flavor, and they always tell me they want to make shrubs like mommy and daddy when they grow up," said McClary.

McClary Bros. is getting ready to launch a Forgotten Flavors line, and they're also getting ready to open up a tasting room in Farmington.



 
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