More Than a Label Maker at Springfield Brewing Company
Cat Wellever is the server turned brand manager behind Springfield Brewing Company’s unique beer labels. However, it’s more than just labels that she’s in charge of.
“I’m like a one-man department,” Wellever says. “I probably do like five people’s jobs.”
Wellever designs the labels for bottles, six packs, cans, tap handles and promotional items. Her beer labels can be seen displayed as special chalk art all around SBC’s bar and restaurant on South Market Street.
Wellever is a Missouri State University alumna who says she wanted to make sure her graphic design degree was applicable in the business world. The St. Louis native started working at SBC as a server in 2004.
“The ownership at the time knew that I was going to art school so I did a lot of band posters and starting doing menu sets and some chalkboard stuff,” Wellever says.
In 2011 when SBC changed ownership, Wellever was asked to be more than a server. At the time, Wellever had just had her first son with her husband, whom also works at SBC.
“I was just being a mom, and it was a great experience,” Wellever says. “They were like well we want to use you as our brand manager basically. So that was a really awesome opportunity to stay at home… and do beer art.”
The creative process starts with deciding on the name for the new beer.
“We’ll have a group of about eight people brainstorm the name,” Wellever says. “Then from there, I pretty much have 100 percent creative freedom.”
Most recently, Wellever says she named SBC’s Day Pack, a session India Pale Ale.
“That’s always kind of fun,” Wellever says. “It’s like naming your child. Some come easier than others. Some definitely are harder.”
After the name is set, Wellever begins to sketch and emails out her work for feedback.
“Then I’ll refine it again, and most beers start with a custom chalkboard,” Wellever says. “If it’s a beer we want to put on the market, we’ll kind of more define it. I’ll digitalize it. So I’ll draw it basically back over on the computer.”
Wellever is able to taste the beer to aid her in design, and she says they are trying to be consistent and local with their beers.
“Kind of what our main theme is almost this ‘field and stream theme,’” Wellever says. “The Ozarks is just so cool. I think people just don’t appreciate all the rivers and the lakes. So a lot of our beers will have a scene of that season, just a snapshot. [It’s] kind of those beers that complement the season.”
One of Wellever’s first complete packaged beer designs was for the Hop Lobster, a red ale. Her design started with a cartoon lobster, which she says was almost like Sebastian from the movie “The Little Mermaid.” However, the beer team wanted something edgier.
“So I was sitting in a meeting, and I’m like what if he was like a pirate guy. And he was kind of like this surly dude that lived in the sea and hoarded hops and hop minions or something,” Wellever says.
She continues, “So I came up with this sort of rough around the edges hop-dude, and it was actually our first real beer that wasn’t a flagship beer that we put on the market. It just took off.”
Wellever says it was a humbling experience to see her sketch go from just a sketch, onto the product and then placed on store shelves.
“Right now I feel like I’ve landed quite the dream job,” Wellever says.
Springfield Brewing Company has recently expanded its service to include Joplin and northern Arkansas, and its beers can be found on tap at many Springfield bars and restaurants. For more information on SBC, see their website http://www.springfieldbrewingco.com/.