Accountants by training, entrepreneurs by choosing, and mixologists by vocation - meet Shane Masters, CPA and Marie-Pier Racine, CPA!
Not many accountants can say they started their careers in the culinary industry, but that’s exactly where Shane’s unexpected career began.
“My passion for the culinary arts is deep-rooted, but I wanted a career that was more stable,” explains Shane, who worked for several progressive restaurants during his six-year tenure in the culinary field. “Having grown up in an accounting household, I naturally gravitated toward the profession.”
Today, Shane is the Manager of Financial Reporting with the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) of Manitoba, where he oversees a department of five employees covering grant accounting, payroll, reconciliations, investments and more. He also volunteers his time as a member of WCB Manitoba’s United Way Committee.
Marie-Pier, however, followed a conventional career path starting off as a staff accountant at KPMG and working her way to Controller with Old Dutch Foods. In her role, Marie-Pier manages a team of approximately 30 and does everything from route accounting for the company’s distribution, to accounts payable, accounts receivable, monthly and annual financial statements.
“Knowing the ins and outs of financial statements, accounts payable and receivable, and accounting processes are a no-brainer advantage when starting a business venture,” she says, attributing her love for math and numbers to her father, a retired high-school math teacher.
Accountants and entrepreneurs alike, Shane and Marie-Pier, friends, and classmates from the University of Winnipeg, married their passions and skills to shake up a new venture.
The finance professionals ran the numbers and assessed the market potential for a cocktail beverage concept. Convinced they could make it work, in 2020 they co-founded and launched Angel’s Share Cocktail Co., from the ground, growing it into a successful libations business focused on creating preservative-free mixes using locally sourced ingredients and vendors.
According to Shane, a big part of their success today can be attributed to their CPA designation. By providing a foundation of business, accounting, and finance knowledge — a skill set Marie-Pier and Shane were able to apply directly to their own business — they were able to have an understanding of “more than just the numbers”, but how the numbers are driving and impacting the results and the goals the business is trying to achieve.
“There's business, and there's art and passion,” adds Marie-Pier, who admits Shane inspired her zest for cocktail culture. “With art and passion, you play in the world of the artist, and on the other side, you play in the world of numbers. We understand both games.”
Never did they imagine that they could build a startup that successfully competes with monolithic companies in the beverage industry.
“It’s akin to winning the lottery!” exclaims Shane, describing how several of their cocktails have been judged by world-renowned bartenders and have earned double gold awards and best in class on the global stage. “The fact that a two-person team from Winnipeg could compete on a world scale with global brands showcases how unique and high-quality our product is.”
Key to their success, they think, is recognizing each other’s skills and talents, and trusting one another. The result is a collection of 65 unique cocktail flavour combinations any beverage connoisseur would love. From the popular Never Skip a Beet that mixes with gin and combines beet juice, lemon and Nigerian Hibiscus to the delicate Bee’s Knees that pairs with gin and combines honey, lemon and lavender, they are stirring up unexpected and unique cocktails.
“Our financial savviness, resourcefulness, entrepreneurial spirit and focus on featuring various fruits and vegetables that are bursting with flavour is what gives us our unique edge,” explains Shane. “It just goes to show: pushing the boundaries of creativity is not only fun, it also can be good for your business!”
Over the years, Shane and Marie-Pier have learned how to curate a product that brings the cocktail bar experience into the home, how to craft cocktails for consumers, and have become smitten with the artistry of mixology, calling it “art in a glass.”
“I hope that our story will inspire other CPAs to really break out of that box accountants are often put in,” they say with a smile. “Yes, the CPA program is built to equip you with the capabilities you need to grow your career, but it’s your ambition that will define your success in turning ideas from concept to reality.”
Above all, their advice for others is to be open to trying new things.
“Don’t be scared to get uncomfortable because sometimes the most incredible things come from the most unexpected places,” asserts Marie-Pier, a registered student at the Chartered Business Valuators Institute (CBV Institute).
“A lot of people think the path is linear, but there are so many diverse opportunities within the profession. There is so much learning and growth that you can have outside of just the conventional path.”
For summer cocktail and mocktail recipe ideas, check out Angel's Share Cocktail Co. on Instagram.
Shane's photo credit: St.Norbert Farmers' Market