When we first launched AVEC, with a mission to drink better, the dream was to throw events that got people not only to drink together but to have conversations that were healthy, rich with debate, diversity, laughter and all the emotions. Sure drinks are great for moments of pure fun, but conversations where we learn and grow are equally perfect for a cocktail.
So welcome to the first of hopefully many conversations.
Though women are now an integral part of the historically male-dominated beverage alcohol industry, there's still more work to be done to bring greater gender equity and inclusion to the drinks space.
We got four amazing women-owned spirits brands + their inspiring female leaders in conversation with Emily Saladino of Wine Enthusiast, to explore the role of gender in drinking culture and business, biases and misconceptions about female drinks professionals and consumers, the politics of representation, and more.
Plus we had a pretty fun happy hour/cocktail making tutorial by Kitty Amann, Author of Drink Like Ladies and Cocktail expert. She taught us how to make 4 cocktails over on IGTV.
Kat Hantas, Co-Founder & CEO, 21Seeds
Bridgette Taylor, Founder, Harridan Vodka
Shay Wood, President & CEO of HH Bespoke Spirits
Sherrie Moore, Director of Whiskey Operations, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey
Dee Charlemagne, Co-Founder of AVEC, premium better-for-you mixers
Emily and our audience asked amazing questions -- How do we feel to heralded as female leaders as opposed to just leaders? What has been the experience in getting investors? How did Jack Daniels get popular amongst bikers? (ps it wasn’t intentional!)
A few quotables:
On the female consumer not being monolithic.
There is no “this is what the female consumer likes.” We can have many different sides. I actually like the color pink and I really enjoy flowers, but I also really like to wear the color black and I enjoy drinking an Uncle Nearest neat. That is another side of me. So in addition to there being many different types of female consumers, the single female consumer also has many different sides of her. - Bridgette
On being a black woman
If we can add black women-owned, they are even a smaller percentage of women. So when you guys walk into a room, I walk into a narrower closet because black owned and women owned representation needs to be increased. - Shay
On getting into the industry
Distilled spirits is an expensive business to get into. It is very capital intensive. Very few people who know the business start a company and I love just watching people who have this passion and don't know enough to be afraid. -Sherrie
On shopping with a cause and connecting with your consumer
There are people out there who want to shop based on a cause — something that the brand stands for, or who it was founded by, or where it donates to. What should happen is that all of that stuff should be on the main page. A lot of sites out there give it lip service but not actionable items. Don't make people have to go somewhere else to find the female founded, to find supplier diversity, to find black-owned. Have that stuff on the main page, let it be an icon. So when people want to shop that way it is easy. -Kat
On go to market/launching
It takes like 16 cocktails to sell 1 bottle in on premise (bars/restaurants). For 21Seeds, we were not from the spirits industry….So we said to ourselves [the bar] is not where women discover brands in 2020. Oftentimes, they don't really talk to the bartender.. We went to “outer premise” online and digital media. You can find your core user online now and you can do that relatively inexpensively. Think about what are they not buying to buy [your product]? Get to know everything about that core user — what else do they love? Figure out what that third affinity is and go after that as its. -Kat
On getting national scale
If you want to become a big brand you need the national pipes. So what does that look like when you are not that distributor prototype? My background is in advertising and I used to work with big brands who are super proud in briefing to say they are launching an all female product with an all female team. And then you come back [with ideas] that speaks to that consumer and then they say …but the distributor is a 50 year old white man. What have you done for that person? -Dee
Cheers to more women-owned brands getting the distribution not only nationally, but globally!