Years in the Industry
Karla Jean or KJ
Where did you grow up, and what was it like there?
I grew up in America's Heartland: Wisconsin. People think I'm crazy when I tell them I love it there. Everything you think you know about Wisconsin and its natives are probably true. Cold winters, beer, cheese, beer cheese, and the love of long vowels. Aside from the stereotypes, though, Wisconsin is absolutely beautiful despite its temperamental weather. Wisconsin means "grassy place" in Chippewa, and in the spring and summer it certainly is. I'm grateful to have grown up just outside the suburbs. From my house, a quarter mile in either direction could be a bowling alley or a cornfield or cowpasture.
Favorite childhood memory?
Hill rolling, sledding, camping, summer bonfires... not one memory really, more like a montage of what made my childhood fun.
Where do you work & what do you there?
Beverage Director and Bar Chef at Fork and Barrel, Louisville.
What is the most rewarding part of your career?
I thrive in educational settings, so I don't mind patting myself on the back for being able to learn and comprehend something related to the industry, maintain that knowledge and apply it effectively.
What is your favorite bartending moment?
I don't have a moment per se... but I really had a blast bartending motorcycle rallies in Daytona and Sturgis.
What do you do to relax outside of work?
Relaxing is something I'm not good at. If I'm not at work I'm either at the gym, training for some type of athletic race or competition, or in school. I do enjoy indulging in a few TV series like The Walking Dead or Ancient Aliens with my fur children and boyfriend. And if I can't sleep when I get home I find myself watching murder mysteries on Discovery ID.
Tell us about your dream vacation.
My dream vacation, hey? For several years I had envisioned myself traveling to Mexico and watching the sun set while drinking copious amounts of tequila with a strangely alluring tall, dark and handsome man. But then last May I wound up in Mexico through USBG's Academia Patron where I did, in fact, drink an absurd amount of tequila with a bunch of really awesome people. I also met a tall, dark and handsome man (who now happens to be my boyfriend) and the reason I ended up in Louisville to begin with. So now I have to come up with a new dream vacation... minus the lover, of course.
"Don't threaten me with a good time!"
Advice you could offer to others:
Always strive to be a better version of yourself.
Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself that we might not know.
When I was 20, I drove to Florida on a whim with only a couple hundred dollars to my name. I stayed with my aunt on the beach until I ran out of cash. I decided I wanted to live there, so I did... For 12 years.
What does the future hold for you?
We plan, God laughs... I just hope to wake up on this side of the dirt each day.
What's your favorite part of usbg.org?
I've been a member of three chapters, and I'd say the Kentucky Chapter, by far, has had the most educational and networking opportunities. (Kind of unfair to other chapters, considering bourbon's a'flowin' in these parts).
What turns you on?
Intelligence and laughter!
What other profession would you like to attempt?
I'd love to be a financially successful author/photographer/photojournalist, but the little kid inside of me wants to be an action-hero actress/stunt double/American Gladiator/ Fly Girl from In Living Color hybrid.
What other profession would you never try?
What personal attribute of yours do you most appreciate?
I'm an overthinker. Some might consider that a character flaw, but as I get older, instead of trying to change that I accept it to be a part of who I am.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
"Lemme show ya how to turn that water into wine!"