June 28, 2018
Virginia Gil Cross grew up in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (DR), and after receiving her BA in Business Administration, she started working at a family owned and operated import and logistics company. In this position, she began organizing the logistics of importing anything large DR corporations needed from all over the globe. In this position, she found a lifelong career. This vocation moved her into nonprofit work where she organized logistics and supply chain for Doctors without Borders. While working abroad she met and fell in love with her now husband and business partner, Joseph Ruiz. Joseph had been based out of the Asheville area since the mid-1990’s. When the couple decided to move to the US permanently, they considered and visited some major US cities, but decided upon locating in Asheville.
Transitioning to Life in Asheville
The first step for Virginia when moving to Asheville, like for many new transplants, was finding a job. When interviewing for positions, which due to Asheville’s local market were primarily in the tourism industry, she realized that she couldn’t see herself being challenged or inspired by that line of work. Instead of trying to work a job with the wrong fit Virginia decided to start her own business that catered to her passions.
The impetus of WNC Craft Beer Export
In Virginia and Joseph’s relocation to Asheville, Joseph was able to expose Virginia to one of his other loves, craft beer. With the couples frequent travels to the DR to visit Virginia’s family, they felt the absence of craft beer throughout the DR and realized that other American tourists, who make up 75% of the island’s tourists, felt this absence as well. With this realization, Virginia and Joseph figured out a way to link their two homes, and two of their loves, Craft Beer and Logistics. With this realization, Virginia began to do market research to see if it would be viable to import beer from Western North Carolina to the DR for both tourists and locals alike.
Getting the business off the ground
After a year of market research and courting local WNC craft beer companies, Virginia decided that this import business was viable if she could get additional capital and distribute beers from at least five breweries. In the pursuit of capital, it became clear that traditional banks wouldn’t consider their business because they were a startup. After hearing about Mountain BizWorks they came and spoke with a small business lender, and found not only would they be able to get capital but they would be able to get access to the capital quickly. Within one month they were able to get access to the capital they needed to get the business off the ground. In the quest of getting breweries on board, Virginia ended up recruiting a group of small and critically acclaimed breweries from Asheville down to Miami.
If you ever find yourself in the DR with a hankering for a craft beer you can thank Virginia and Joseph for being able to quench that thirst.