When Chanel Turner was browsing the web for roundups of Black-owned spirit brands, she was pleasantly surprised to find there were at least 20 listed within the article she clicked.
As one of the very few Black woman founders of a vodka brand, this was welcome information and inspired her to do something big with it.
“I had no idea there were at least 20 of us out there,” Turner shared. “And although I’m happy to know they exist, I’d never seen any of the founders at the trade shows or spirits events I normally attended, so I wanted to change that.”
Thus the idea for BOWS Fest comes about. The Black-Owned Wines and Spirits Festival was launched in 2015 with the mission of showcasing, connecting, and celebrating Black liquor brand founders. Turner said she wished there was a similar event around when she was in the beginning stages of launching her vodka brand Fou-Dre at just 25-years-old in 2009.
The fully immersive wine and spirits festival dedicated to the elevation and awareness of Black-owned brands will make its return to Washington D.C. on September 10th, 2022 at the Cambria Hotel Capital Riverfront.
This year, the event will return bigger and better.
Featured vendors joining the 2022 festival include: Uncle Nearest Whiskey, TCapri Tequila, Equiano Rum, Sorrel, FOU-DRE Vodka and Greenwood Whiskey.
“There was nobody out there doing what I was doing that looked like me, but I really believed in the brand so I kept pushing on,” she said. “I understood what recession proof really meant, and the liquor industry proved to be resilient regardless of what’s happening economically.”
Her observation was spot on.
Data shows that liquor sales soared in the early months of the pandemic — by as much as 20-40% despite massive layoffs and income losses throughout the country.
Despite this uptick, as of 2021 only 1% of all U.S. wineries are Black-owned despite Black people making up more than 10% of American wine consumption.
Turner hopes the festival will encourage prospective Black spirits entrepreneurs to take the plunge into the industry.
Since its inception, the Black Owned Wine And Spirits Festival has worked to redirect consumer spend from mainstream brands to craft Black-owned wine and spirits brands, considering growth ownership in an industry that has capitalized off the labor and intellect of African Americans for centuries. The festival itself has helped generate more than $200,0000 for the Black-owned spirits community in 2021.
“We have so many mainstream liquor brands that do nothing for the Black community despite their large consumership among that group,” she pointed out. “I’d love to see us represented more in that space, and supporting each other along the way.