The days of men being the face of the spirits industry are behind us as women are being ushered to the forefront and making their mark along the way.
Black women specifically have found a way to become trailblazers in this space as they’re not only the owners behind some of today’s most popular spirits brands, they’ve also managed to build successful businesses based on powerful origin stories.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month this year, we’re also honoring the Black women who are becoming leaders across the spirits industry and breaking barriers with their brands.
Check out the below spirit brands and the powerful Black women owners behind them:
AVEC Drinks was founded by Bronx native Dee Charlemagne and U.K. native Alex Doman and successfully launched on the market in June 2020 amid the pandemic. Within its first four months, AVEC managed to bring in roughly $100,000 in revenue, selling through its first batch of 40,000 cans.
AVEC is described as a new line of better-for-you cocktail mixers, rethinking how consumers mix their drinks with natural ingredients. Outside of being a spirits brand, co-founder Charlemagne was inspired to create AVEC as a premium business that’s connecting cultures and starting deeper, equitable conversations that can help solve issues around both sustainability and inclusion.
Robin and Andréa, the McBride Sisters, founded the brand on an interesting origin story. The two found their way to each other in California back in 2005 after being raised on opposite ends of the globe, growing up in two of the world’s most iconic wine-growing regions. Their background in wine that was instilled in them at a young age prompted them to then create the McBride Sisters Collection.
Most recently, they’ve become recognized as two forward-thinking women leaders in the spirits industry that have defied the odds of both race and gender. The sisters have not only built up the largest Black-owned wine company in the U.S., but also one of the most inclusive, accessible, socially aware, and sustainable brands on the market today. As a personal ode to Black women, Robin and Andrea created the Black Girl Magic collection, a wine that’s inspired by the magic and resilience of Black women.
CEO and founder Fawn Weaver debuted Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey — a brand that honors the world’s first known Black master distiller — back in 2017 and quickly expanded the brand to be sold across all 50 U.S. states as well as 12 countries around the world. Today, Weaver’s brand is recognized as the most award-winning American whiskey and best-selling Black-owned and founded spirit brand in history.
The brand accomplished its latest impressive feat right on the heels of International Women’s Day. According to CNBC, Weaver — as the first Black woman to lead a major spirits brand — attributes her company’s success to her all-women leadership team as well as the strong consumer base the brand has built — which is made up of about 50% women — by inviting customers to their table.
Award-winning and critically-acclaimed bespoke boutique Harlem Haberdashery is the family behind the HH Bespoke curated spirits collection. Run by Sharene — president and CEO of Harlem Haberdashery — and Guy Wood Sr., Harlem’s first family of fashion launched HH Bespoke Spirits as an extension of their boutique brand back in November of 2018 as a means to “celebrate life fashionably and be a part of celebratory and responsible lifestyle experiences for our consumers,” Sharene shared in a statement noting the launch.
The brand used inspiration from the cultural richness of the Harlem Renaissance to help form a spirits collection that honored its Harlem roots. In addition to leading the popular spirits brand, Sharene, Harlem Haberdashery, and #TakeCareOfHarlem — the philanthropic arm of the mainstay brand — recently partnered together to help alliviate the shortage of PPE amid the pandemic, the brand reports.
Anteel Tequila — founded by husband and wife duo Don and Nayana Ferguson — launched exclusively on the Michigan market back in 2018. AfroTech previously reported the brand was created out of Nayana and her husband’s mutual love for tequila alongside their shared passion to help educate consumers on the differences between quality, premium tequilas and other brands. Amid the brand’s launch, they discovered that co-founder and COO Nayana Ferguson is considered the first Black woman in the world to co-own a tequila company.
Anteel Tequila has maintained a popular reputation in its hometown that represents the couple’s Detroit roots through and through. The brand has been named Detroit Metro Times’ Best Michigan Tequila Brand by its readers twice and also received several awards at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition in March of last year.
When Pam Davis — founder of Hidden Spirits Cocktails and a self-proclaimed accidental bootlegger — started her brand, she set out on a mission to change the spirits industry, one ready-made cocktail at a time. Davis is not only the owner of her very own spirits line, she’s also among the few Black spirit owners who actually manufacture their own products.
According to Script Type, Davis was inspired to create her cocktail brand after giving birth to her two children. “Tequila was my drink of choice, but after two babies I couldn’t throw back the shots the way I used to,” she said.
In 2015, she came up with an idea to make mixed lemonade that mellowed out the strong taste of Tequila. Word of her mixed drinks quickly spread to friends and family, and she later set up operations in a 1,650-square-foot facility to produce her product. The brand has since launched two additional flavors following the success of its Lemonade launch.