Weston Voices: Esther Tetreault, Co-Founder of Trillium Brewing Company
Serendipity struck the Weston Owl yesterday, International Women’s Day, when we were able to zoom in and have a metaphoric beer and actual conversation with Weston resident, Esther Tetreault, co-founder of Trillium Brewing Company. Sometimes known (at least on Instagram) as Mrs. Trillium, Esther and her husband JC founded Trillium in 2013. It is a 300-employee organization during peak seasonal staffing with locations in Fort Point, Fenway, Canton, a seasonal beer garden on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a robust home delivery service called Trillivery, and a working farm in North Stonington, Connecticut.
Women’s History Month
In honor of Women’s History Month, Esther and the Trillium team have created a trifecta of programs–conversations and learnings with women business leaders, STEM-focused projects to support girls in science, and a guide to the Trillium team’s favorite women-owned businesses. Rumor has it that Trillium is also working on a beer to celebrate the month’s activity–an endeavor many of us enthusiastically support. [Update 3/10/21: launched this week Daily Serving]
Every Saturday at 2 pm through March, Esther, in her alter-ego of Mrs. Trillum, hosts Live with @Mrs Trillium–conversations with local women entrepreneurs. During the first program on Saturday, March 6, Mrs Trillium’s guest was Rebecca Roth Gullo, owner of Blackbird Doughnuts, The Gallows “hangout”, Banyan Bar & Refuge gastropub, and Sally’s Sandwiches. Ms. Gullo’s comments were frequently hilarious and language was not exactly rated G, in case you wanted to tune in with your kids.
The forty-minute conversation was a fascinating dialogue between two women business owners–covering the stress of running a service-oriented business during a pandemic, balancing everything they want to do in life, and how to inspire and mentor others, especially young women and girls.
“I consider this a bit of micro-mentoring to our listeners,” says Esther. “It’s not about me and my interviewee agreeing, but about showing the different successful paths we take and the challenges we face along the way.”
Trillium also has a STEM partnership with Science Club for Girls, an organization that brings access to STEM education to young girls in underrepresented communities. During March, Trillium has available for pick-up or Trillivery delivery sourdough bread baking kits.
“Fermentation is science, and cooking may make it more accessible and more “real” to anyone who may be stuck at home with remote or hybrid learning.” Trillium facilitated creating the bread kits and sourced the locally-milled flour. “However we can make science more accessible to all, we’re in!”
Finally, as the third program of the month of March, Trillium is publishing a Women-Owned Business Shopping Guide, where the Trillium team recommends their favorite women-owned businesses. From skincare to cookies to calligraphy, readers can find and support these endeavors.
Philanthropy, Equality and Values
“Equality is incredibly important to Trillium,” explained Esther. “I am personally all about lifting everyone up, rather than squashing anyone down.”
Trillium’s vision and values revolve around being warm and welcoming to all. For four years, Esther has been a member of Pink Boots Society, an organization dedicated to supporting and educating women in the craft beer industry. Last year, Trillium released a beer called “Level Playing Field” which raised money for Pink Boots. “There’s an assumption that craft beer is a ‘men’s thing.’ It’s not, and shouldn’t be.”
As stated on their website, Trillium’s mission is to “provide impactful support for causes close to our hearts and roots. In addition to financial contributions, our team donates time, expertise, and our voice to advance the causes we deeply believe in.”
“What I realized,” says Esther, “is that no one company or person has enough funds to support every cause. We have to use more than just money–we need to use our voice, and amplify the voices that have been long unheard.”
Regarding the effects of Covid on the company, her family and the Trillium team, Esther says it was the worst thing that’s ever happened to her, personally and professionally. “I take the responsibility that we all have to each other at Trillium very seriously.” To consider layoffs, or furloughs, “it made me physically ill.”
The Tetreaults decided that if Trillium was going to make it through, they were going to have to make some painful cuts. “There had to be a place left to come back to,” says Esther. Trillium has 9 locations (not all open to the public) which means nine rents or mortgages. At the lowest point, they had to lay off the majority of their staff, but continued to pay full-time employees’ health insurance. When the second shut-down happened in the fall, a new furlough was put in to place while the locations went to curbside or take-out service only. Trillium, according to Esther, survived the winter with Trillivery, their delivery service.
The silver lining of Covid is that it brought in new customers to Trillium. “Trillium doesn’t use paid advertising–since the beginning we have gotten our support–our community–from social media and word of mouth. And people who met Trillium for the first time through Trillivery, will not forget us soon. They may see a t-shirt in an airport some day in the future and say, I remember when…Cutting Tiles at my door saved a dark time.” In addition to an already fervent and loyal customer base, it seems that Trillium will be back stronger than ever.
From the Fort Point location yesterday, Esther said plans for re-opening are in full swing. Trillium has two year-round locations in the Fort Point and Fenway neighborhoods, as well as a seasonal beer garden on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The production brewery and taproom in Canton and operational farm in North Stonington, Connecticut round out the five open-to-public locations. In the coming years, visitors to Canton will enjoy Trillium’s ‘forever home, which is located less than five miles from the current Trillium Canton, and will include a larger taproom, restaurant, and brewery.
Weston is lucky to count the Tetreaults as our community members. Shop (and learn! and bake!) local!
Women’s History Month with Trillium: Details
Catch the upcoming Live with @MrsTrillium
Science Club for Girls
Sourdough kits are available to order online. Kits are $5.00 each, contain a Trillium mason jar and flour from their friends at Valley Malt, and can be picked up at three of locations (Fort Point, Fenway or Canton), or delivered to your door via Trillivery.
Women-Owned Businesses Shopping Guide
Thanks, Esther, and Trillium! You’re an inspiration!