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Women Running The Liquor World: Edition Six

Mar 29, 2019

Chelsea Davis Contributor Dining & Drinking

Though the spirits industry is often characterized as one dominated by men, that isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of women who are currently at the helm of some of the world’s most notable liquor brands. From master distillers, brand ambassadors and owners to those at the forefront of marketing, innovation and every role in between, these women haven’t let stereotypical industry “norms” hold them back. Today they are leaders in their respective fields, shaking up the world of liquor, all while proving gender is irrelevant when it comes to crafting the perfect libation

As a part of an ongoing series, we chatted with the badass women running the liquor world to talk humble beginnings, career paths, “made it” moments, favorite cocktails and more. This is edition five of Women Running The Liquor World.

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Dr. Nicola Nice, Founder & CEO, Pomp & Whimsy

You’re a researcher, sociology PhD, brand consultant for Fortune 500 companies, and now distiller. How did you end up in the spirits world?

The common thread in my career has been in understanding the consumer perspective and using that to identify areas of unmet need. My training as a sociologist gave me the tools to analyze behaviors, while running an insights and brand strategy agency for the last 15 years equipped me with the expertise to translate those into opportunities for brands. In launching Pomp & Whimsy, it was a natural progression for me to move from consultant to brand owner in an industry that I love.

You’ve talked about the need to correct the stigma of female-oriented spirits brands. How do you hope to overcome this with a brand like Pomp & Whimsy?

I’ve said many times that women are treated as second-class consumers when it comes to spirits. The brand and marketing landscape of spirits has always been skewed towards men. While many brands have been making an effort to become more inclusive in their marketing, the truth is that women are rarely, if ever, at the heart of the brand DNA. In contrast, those brands that have attempted to speak to women directly are often accused of pandering. The aim with Pomp & Whimsy is not just to put women’s interests first, but to do this in a way that turns that entire paradigm on its head.

What are the specific needs of female consumers that you see have been ignored in the spirits world? When do you think this will change/ what needs to change?

I think in the past there has been an unwillingness to talk to women as women, and instead to either fall back on stereotypes or, more recently, to try to remove gender from the conversation entirely. Neither approach hits the mark in my opinion, because they ignore the great richness and diversity of the female experience. There is a lot of research to suggest that men and women have unique occasions and needs when it comes to spirits, and that our palates are distinct. So, brands that want to tap into the female experience need to come at it from a place of genuine authenticity, not simply because it seems like a fun campaign idea for Women’s History Month.

As one of only 3 certified women-owned spirits brands in the entire U.S. right now, what kind of advice do you have for women to do the same?

In addition to getting certified, we are heavily involved in a movement to bring female founders to the fore, help grow each other’s businesses and raise the voices of women in general in the industry. We know that as makers, women bring more and better innovation to the table. We also know that as consumers, women control most of the household spending on liquor. So, bringing the two together does not just make good social sense, it makes good business sense too. We started the Women’s Cocktail Collective as a pilot in February this year to do just that, and we’re excited to roll it out in the second half of the year.

What is your favorite cocktail and why?

I love simple gin cocktails like a Bee’s Knees or a French 75. But as a Brit, I also love to play around with the classic gin and tonic; it’s incredible how much variation you can create by simply switching up the three basic elements of gin, tonic and garnish!


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