We had the good fortune of connecting with Shannon Jackson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Shannon, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
Great Question! There are days I feel like giving up, but I am a strong believer in Jesus Christ, who gives me great strength every day to carry on. He has also blessed me with some pretty amazing people in my life. My husband and kids play a huge part, as they constantly encourage me and support me through all my craziness haha. I take a line from Shawn Mendes’ song “it isn’t in my blood to give up”, giving up isn’t an option. My one piece of advice for people is to have some great, positive people that encourage you, but also to have the mindset of positivity yourself, especially these days. This was a battle in my mind for years, I’m still working on it, but I also have a passion for my career and hope to positively impact the world in some capacity.

Please tell us more about your career. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?

What sets me apart from others? That’s a really hard question, I’m not really sure, so I had to do some research by asking my husband, who reminded me of my craziness and ambition. I don’t quit. When someone asks me what I do, I always respond with “what don’t I do?” But, I can’t quit because I absolutely love everything I do. How did I get here? Well, I believe my ambition to not give up in combo with my craziness to dive right into the madness. I never want to quit learning, I just keep going and I love it. It isn’t easy at all, but I overcome the challenges with strength from God, amazing people in my life who continue to encourage me and support me, my stubbornness to not give up, and striving to help and impact the world with my knowledge. I learn a lot and continue. A few things I learned along the journey include “knowledge is power”, the littlest thing can make the biggest impact on someone (so, don’t think you don’t have anything to offer, because everyone has something to offer to impact someone or something in the world), it doesn’t matter the level of education, race, level of money, or situation. Live life to the fullest, because you don’t know when you will go or when someone you know will. Show appreciation and kindness to everyone, that kindness or appreciation will make someone’s day. The thing I am most proud of is being able to share the knowledge and talent I have with others. I am most excited about continuing to learn and grow, personally and professionally, and getting to share that knowledge with others. A couple of specific things are teaching cocktails and the history of cocktails. Also, nutrition, because I just received my certification as a nutritionist, so I’m very excited to expand some classes. As far as my brand and what the world should know, first, Paragon Culinary School is a huge supporter of Veterans/Military and their families. We are a VA Approved School that accepts the GI Bill and Vocational Rehab. Second,we are supporters of mission work. We created RAM (Restaurant As Mission) which teaches and helps missionaries use food to improve communities around the world. Third, Black Bear Distillery, is a really big supporter of all kinds of charities, to name just a couple, Happy Cats Haven & Shield 616. There have been many more and we love them all. Our motto is “tradition and innovation”, meaning we make our products in a traditional, but innovative way and all products are grain to glass. As far as the Colorado Distillers Guild, we currently have about 74 distilleries as members. We also created the Colorado Spirits Trail 3 years ago, and it seems to get more popular every year. Unfortunately, COVID-19 put a halt on it, but the  Distillers Board Members and Spirits Trail committee are working hard to get new and exciting things rolling for 2021, so stay tuned.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
So, I am located in Manitou Springs, a town, barely west of Colorado Springs, so I am making the itinerary within the local area. First, we would head down to the Town of Manitou Springs, to explore all the local shops and then stop for a bite at Armadillo Ranch, some great local food. We would then have to go to The Briarhurst Manor, also where Paragon Culinary School is located, to take a tour of the restaurant and building, it has a lot of history and is a very beautiful building. The next day would be Pikes Peak, the town of Green Mountain Falls, where we would visit Black Bear Distillery for a tour and tasting and grab a bite at the Pantry. We would have to take a day to visit the Garden of Gods, Olympic Training Center and the new Olympic Museum, Cave of the Winds, And the Air Force Academy…we have so much in the Springs, so these are just a few. We would go hang out a little bit at Distillery 291 and Axe & the Oak, very cool guys with great products. As far as eating, we have a lot of great places to eat with great chefs, but a few musts are The Wobbly Olive, to check out the amazing food from Chef Justin Edgar, Uncle Sam’s Pancake House, Chef Bob’s Lobster Trap because Chef Nate Tims is just killing it, and Paravicini with Chef Franco. These are just a few, but there are so many great places to eat and hang out, and things to do here in the Springs.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
For Sure!!! First, Jesus Christ, because without his love, grace, mercy, and strength, I would not have the strength, people, or even the passion he gives me daily. Next, would have to be my awesome husband Bobby Jackson, he has been one of my biggest fans from the beginning. Bless his heart, because things can be a hot mess at times. My kids, for sure, just like my husband, they continue to support, encourage, and be my biggest fans. I can’t forget my life mentor and just an awesome human being, Chef Victor Matthews. He has done so much for me and my family, he has been a huge blessing from God. He continues to guide me along my journey, Thanks Chef V. Also, all of the other friends and family, I am blessed to have so many amazing people in my life, and without each one of them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Thank you to each one of you, you have made an impact on my life whether it’s personal or professional and I am truly thankful for you. Last but certainly not least are a couple of people who can’t be with me today, but did impact my life, My dad and Bobby’s Grandfather, Grandpa Joe, who I miss dearly.

Website: www.blackbeardistillery.com, www.pargaonculinaryschool.com, www.coloradospiritstrail.com
Facebook: @blackbeardistillery @Paragonculinaryschool @Coloradospiritstrail

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