beer taps

Client Name: Kristin Bastille
Business Name:
Defiant Records & Craft Beer

Business Website:


 Laconia, NH

SBDC Advisor's Name: 
Rita Toth

Have you ever watched a movie or TV show and thought, “that’d be fun.” Now, “don’t’ try this at home” things aside, can you say that you ever actually did it? Kristin Bastille of Defiant Records and Craft Beer in Laconia can.

At Defiant, the message is simple: “Tap Out and Tune In.” Defiant is records and beer; a welcoming, fun, and friendly place where you can try craft beer from all over New England while you thumb through (and purchase if you want) records that have been “rescued” from basements, garages, attics and the like.

Kristin opened Defiant Records and Craft Beer in August 2021 with Mike Testa, her partner in life and in business. Defiant is essentially a perfect “marriage” of passions: Kristin’s love of craft beer, Mike’s love of collecting albums, and their combined love of music.  

But the idea really began with one of those “wouldn’t it be cool if…” conversations about Kristin and Mike’s favorite movies.  Kristin loves the 90’s flick Empire Records about the young employees who work at a record store. And, with a common theme, Mike has always been a big fan of the John Cusack film High Fidelity, where a record store owner recounts his top five breakups.

Kristin says, “We always talked about, wouldn’t it be cool just to have like a little dusty record store just for fun and then we just kind of merged the two ideas together and thought we should try craft beer and records.”  Still, the idea would not come to fruition until years later. 

Mike owns the local State Farm Insurance Agency in Laconia and Kristin was an employee.  They worked together for 15 years, and Kristin was ready for something different.  She was burnt out and knew insurance was not something she wanted to do forever. She had wanted to get out of insurance for a long time, but not certain what she did want to do, she could never bring herself to make the move.


But, in October 2020, when Kristin had a preventative double mastectomy, she was out of work for a long time and had plenty of time to think about what she wanted to do next. She soon figured out that she wanted to work for herself and in asking herself “what do I love that really makes me happy,” she found her answer. That’s when she made the bold decision to take advantage of the equity she had in a rental home she owned and invested it into opening a business she would love and be passionate about. 

Getting Defiant up and running wasn’t easy. “The build out was the killer,” states Kristin.  She signed the lease for the space in the spring of 2021 and was hoping to be open as soon as summer hit. But, as luck would have it, it seemed that every construction issue that could delay the process did. They ended up opening the last week of August 2021, missing the entire summer, which was, as Kristin describes it, “a bummer.”

But, the good news is, they started out strong. “We get new customers all the time and tons of regulars, which is awesome. We have so many people that come in and are so supportive.”

That support also came in the form of help from SBDC behind the scenes, from the beginning of Defiant’s journey to opening. Kristin connected with SBDC Business Advisor, Rita Toth after Belknap EDC Executive Director Justin Slattery suggested it – and before Kristin signed the lease on Defiant’s space in downtown Laconia. Belknap EDC is the landlord and wanted to help give Kristin the support she may need moving forward in her business.

“Rita was awesome. She’s a huge help.  She’s knowledgeable at every level,” says Kristin.

Rita gave her guidance on everything business from A to Z and quickly became a valuable resource for Kristin, always ready with contacts, ideas, resources, and more. “She walked me through every process I needed help in,” says Kristin. SBDC has been a great resource for Defiant Records and Craft Beer. Kristin adds

“Rita seemed to know everything about everything and if she didn’t, she would find out. I would 100 percent recommend SBDC.”

Kristin believes that people can be intimidated to start a business because they just don’t know where to start and pointed out that, “For guidance on where to start and what steps to take to open a business, Rita helped tremendously.”

Today, Defiant Records and Craft Beer is quickly becoming a local place where people form friendships. Even through the slower time of winter, Kristin and her team continue to meet the challenge, welcoming in customers with weekly open mic nights for comedy, live music on Friday nights, and every couple of months or so, Yogamosa Sunday.

“I love everything about owning this business,” states Kristin.  “The people that come in are amazing.  It’s so fun. Even if it’s a slow day, I’m happy to go to work and happy to come home from work.”