Women-Owned Spirits Brands Launch Cocktail Collective
Ten women-owned spirits brands have launched a business initiative to cross-promote their brands and raise money for good causes at the same time. This week, the Women’s Cocktail Collective launched to bring their brands together at bars and restaurants.
The idea behind the collective came from bars and restaurants themselves. Nicola Nice, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Pomp & Whimsy gin liqueur, says she and other women who own spirits brands often have been asked what are other spirits brands that are owned by women, and they were often asked this question in advance of Women’s History Month. “The demand is coming from consumers,” she says, as oftentimes, distributors themselves didn’t know which brands were women-owned.
“This has never been done before,” Nice says. “Collectively, we can open doors for all of us. If you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t need conferences, you need opportunities to do more business, and through this collective, we can support each other’s endeavors. This is not about people writing checks (for awareness), this is about actual collaboration.”
At more than a dozen different bars in New York, California, Washington, D.C., and Nevada, any cocktails that contain at least two products from members of the collective that are sold throughout March are going to have a portion of the proceeds benefit the National Women’s History Museum and Outsmart NYC (Outsmart is an industry organization that does trainings in bars and restaurants for staff to recognize and prevent sexual assault and harassment.).
This fundraiser is the first event that the Collective has launched, and it’s only a start. “It goes beyond just business,” says Allison Evanow, founder of Square One Organic Vodka. “Having a sounding board with other women in the industry is invaluable, especially now it is so nice to not feel like I am fighting alone. My company is one of the oldest ones in the Collective, and I was literally waiting o the day when there would be enough of us to actually do this!”
Lizzie Asher, president of Macchu Pisco, says the Collective challenges the ongoing stereotype that women can’t work well together. “There is such a diverse background of women involved, and every single one has been cheering on the success of each other,” Asher says. “That is incredibly heartening because no matter how supportive friends nad family might try to be, none of them can fully understand the challenges of each stride we take to succeed in one of the few male-dominated businesses still around today.”
Women-owned brands within the spirits industry number only 50 or so – the exact number is hard to determine – of the 1,000-plus craft distilleries within the United States. To make sure their voices are heard, as well as the voices of diverse bartenders and consumers, WCC member brands tap into shared resources, funding streams, sales and marketing teams, and growth opportunities to promote and sell their spirits and the cocktails created for them. “As a woman who started her company in 2004 and launched her first product in 2006, I’ve been wanting to do this for so long there was no way I was going to be left out of this group,” Evanow says.
The Collective is made up of female entrepreneurs who range from veteran brand owners with more than a decade in the spirits business to those introducing their spirits as recently as three years ago.Besides these three brands, the others joining the Collective are: pür•spirits,Yola Mezcal, Republic Restoratives, SIA, Pura Vida, Catskill Provisions, and Le Grand Courtâge.
By collaborating, members can share resources that makes marketing and sales more cost-effective than just working as a standalone brand, Evanow says. “I also hope to be able to gather insights from others who are in different parts of the country with different types of products, leads and information in other areas such as design firms, marketing support companies, logistics and more,” she says.
The cocktails, to raise funds, must contain products from Collective members, and at the end of the month, the Collective will determine how many cocktails were sold, based on the sales of overall bottles of product from each of the participating bars. That way, bartenders, who are busy, don’t have to calculate exact numbers. The Collective will announce the funds raised at the end of Women’s History Month.
“We are so proud to support these organizations,” Asher says. “Safe women can prosper. Hurt women are lost contributors to our society. And if not for the Women’s History Museum, what other physical space could we have where women are championed?”
Nice says that the ten women and their collaborating brands is only the start. They would like to have other women-directed brands join their voices, and they would like to extend their collaborations beyond the end of Women’s History Month. “We’d like to create this rising tide together,” Nice says.