Teri Fahrendorf Interview: From Suits to Suds
Diana Landau | August 09, 2022
Carl interviews Teri Fahrendorf, who left her high-tech career to become one of the first few women brewmasters in the craft brewing industry in the U.S. She says she's never been cut out for the "cubicle life" and left her well-paying job to forge a new path in the craft brewing industry. She is also the founder of the Pink Boots Society, a network for women in brewing. Teri has a tendency to forge ahead, always willing to follow her intuition to a meaningful life.
Teri has German roots, growing up with her siblings in Wisconsin. She says her parents provided an upper middle-class life until the Oil Embargo of 1973. Her father quit his job and suddenly the family's income level plummeted during her teen years. She says this experience shaped her outlook on life. "Always have a side hustle. Act like you could lose our job at any time." (It is interesting to note that many of our guests had a similar childhood experience that shaped their lives.) "I learned to be an entrepreneur at a young age," Teri tells us.
She attended the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, studying management information systems with an emphasis on COBOL programming. During college she started experimenting with making wine, but she was to follow that passion later. After graduation, she dove into the world of high tech. Over the years she began to hate it. She started home brewing on the side. In 1988, she quit her job as a programmer to attend the Siebel Institute of Chicago, where she earned a degree in brewing technology and then began her new career at Golden Gate Brewing Company in Berkley.
During her time at Golden Gate, Teri was in an accident, when boiling water caused severe damage to her legs and feet, needing surgery and skin grafts. Following that experience, Teri began speaking all over the country to brewers about promoting safety within the industry. She has also worked for Triple Rock Brewery as Head Brewer, then moved to Oregon to work for Steelhead Brewing Company. During her tenure there, she won many awards for her creations.
After 19 years in brewing, she decided to take a road trip to visit other brewers, traveling to 73 breweries across the country. While meeting some of the women in the business, she realized there was no network for connection. Teri founded the Pink Boots Society in 2008. The organization has grown from 35 members to over 2,500 members today. As the organization grew, Teri began to make an (un)retirement plan for her next creative act in life.
Today Teri lives with her husband in Portland. She started Rain Dragon Studio to pursue her passion for pottery and also to meet other artists and travel to art festivals to expand her network. Teri continues making connections and expanding her world. " I'm working at what I want, when I want!"
Teri's advice for (Un) Retirement:
"It was important to me to have a plan in place before I (un)retired. Otherwise, I'd just be taking trips all the time."
"Listen to your intuition--it will steer you towards your best future."
"Keep yourself challenged, interested and excited!"
"It's important to find new friends and tribes. When you're working, you don't necessarily have time to develop friendships."
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” blog.