1350 Distilling is made up for four individuals; two couples that met through the wives who worked together at Douglass Valley Elementary School on the Air Force Academy. Each partner is unique and contributes special talents and personality for our business. This is the second of four biographies of our partners. We hope you get to know each of us.
My name is Kandis Bragg.
I was born and raised in Fresno, California. Oddly enough, I lived in the same city and the same house until I moved out to attend Fresno State University.
My parents, Larry and Donna Allen, raised my brother and me in a white corner house until they divorced. My brother and I lived with my mother and stayed with my dad on weekends. We were fortunate that both sets of grandparents lived in Fresno and we could see them every weekend.
Hard work, compassion and integrity is what I learned from my family. Before meeting my mother, my father served as a Sgt in the Army for 4 years. He then went on to the police academy followed by barber school. I grew up knowing him as the funniest barber in town. My mom worked different manager jobs until she found her niche in social work. The most difficult yet rewarding job for them was raising my developmentally disabled brother, Gary. Only 16 months younger than me, his mental age will never be above eight years old. As a baby, he was in and out of hospitals. My parents challenged social, school, and medical systems to get him to where he is today. He now talks an ear off, works with Fresno Vocational Programs, and dances like Elvis. After my mom passed away, he moved in with my dad and stepmom.
I grew up with compassion and much empathy for others. I knew in high school that I would help others in my future but first...I met Phill. We began dating at 16, and at 17 he announced that he was joining the United States Marine Corps. He would be going to boot camp right after high school. My thoughts: “Ok, we’ll see what happens, if anything happens.” Into the first semester at Fresno State, I ran into him on campus. He bought me a hot dog and the rest was history.
We were married right after college and moved to Virginia where he would begin his career as a Marine officer. As we moved around for three years, I picked up jobs at daycare centers. When we were stationed in North Carolina, I worked as a Child Protective Service investigator. While Phill spent six months on ship, I was making long-term military friends whom I still call “family.” We had my oldest daughter in North Carolina, my second in California. We continued to move from state to state, making new friends and reminiscing with old. We moved a total of 14 times. As much as I missed my family in Fresno, I would always have my USMC family. “Semper Fidelis” — forever faithful.
Phill was stationed in Colorado Springs in 2014. We truly thought this was going to be just another three year duty station. What we found was a sense of “home.” I met Abbie in 2014 while working at Douglass Valley Elementary school. I loved my job and all my new teacher friends. Phill and I were happy here and discussed retiring.
I never, in my wildest dreams, thought about distilleries let alone opening our own. My experience with alcohol was limited to Phill and his brother brewing some beer in our kitchen and going to some wineries for fun. I rarely drank liquor until Phill’s second deployment and even then it was a simple rum and coke. It wasn’t until we were stationed in Colorado Springs that Phill told me he had always wanted to figure out how to make spirits. This didn’t surprise me as he loved numbers, science and most of all, a good challenge. The more he researched, the more serious he was about opening a business. This idea led to including Abbie and Jake.