Pushing Progress: The Taste of Black Spirits is Back

MHW recently announced that we are an official back-office service provider and supply chain management partner to Pronghorn. Pronghorn is a stand-alone business dedicated to cultivating the next generation of diverse founders, executive leaders and entrepreneurs. They aim to invest financial, individual, and network capital to grow and support black-owned business. Being involved with Pronghorn, we were introduced to and also became partners of Taste of Black Spirits, which hosts events to effectively and strategically generate equity by recognizing and contributing to the efforts of African-American owned spirit brand companies.

Taste of Black Spirits launched in May 2021, as the first event of its kind in Michigan and the surrounding states featuring all black-owned beer, wine & spirit brands from across the USA. It focuses on generating equity by contributing to the marketing and success of African-American owned spirit brands. The event also prides itself on the education it provides attendees about the history and viability of African Americans in the industry. This year, the fifth edition of the event took place on September 30th in Detroit, and MHW was proud to be an exhibitor and partner.

After the event, we spoke with Lazar Favors, Chief Executive Curator of Black Spirits Legacy, Llc and Co-founder of Taste of Black Spirits, about the story and legacy of the event. When asked for a brief brand story, he told us, “Creating more awareness and access is important to us. Being intentional about where we spend our money and creating generational wealth in Black communities is important to us. Supporting black entrepreneurs drives us. Legacy drives us, past, present and future. We are developing relationships that give Black Spirit brands access to capital, representation and distribution.” The mission of Taste of Black Spirits is inspiring and has made a difference in countless African-American owned brands, but especially the 90 brands that have been featured in its five years.

One of these brands, Duke & Dame, exhibited alongside us at this fall’s Taste of Black Spirits event. We asked Amani Macaulay, Founder, a few questions about his perception of the industry and his brand’s journey:

  • What is one misconception you feel the industry has had with black Spirits brands?

Building a new spirits brand requires a lot of work to sell your product and get it on the retail shelf. It also requires a significant amount of capital to invest in marketing and promotional activities to build awareness and drive consumers to pull your product off of the shelf. Distributors and liquor store, restaurant, and bar owners understand this. As such, they are often reluctant to distribute your product, or carry your product in their stores or bars, if they know that you don’t have the marketing budget required to promote it. Most new brands, and especially black-owned new brands, will likely not have the access to the capital needed to fully promote and market their products. As such, there is an assumption in the industry that these brands will not succeed, which presents a big challenge that new black-owned brands (and any new independent brands) will have to overcome.

  • How do you feel your brand will break industry barriers?

We can’t help but feel some responsibility to do well, and represent well, as one of the few black-owned spirit brands in the industry. We know that demonstrating that we can succeed can help open doors for other black spirit entrepreneurs. Also, just being present and visible in the market can provide future entrepreneurs who look like us an example to follow, and the confidence that they too can build a successful spirits business.

  • What is a piece of advice you have for the next generation of spirits creators?

Confidence in your ideas and abilities is great (and necessary). But don’t be so confident that you avoid testing your ideas, plans and assumptions with folks who have done it before. Be open to being challenged – it will help you to develop a stronger plan and increase your chances for success. Also, poor cash flow is one of the primary reasons that small business fail. So, make sure that you understand the cash needs of your business and that you have sufficient cash to keep you afloat. Additionally, have a plan in place for how you might address funding needs in the future.

Amani shared with us how important it is for black-owned brands to have support and resources, which is exactly what Taste of Black Spirits provides. Lazar Favors also spoke positively of where the industry is moving and all of the opportunity to come. He said “I think one misconception the industry has had with black Spirits is “Longevity ” similar to the music business had with Hip-hop when it was first introduced (50 years and trillions of dollars later Hip-hop influences everything)! Because of companies like Pronghorn, Black Spirits Legacy, Sipping Black Only and others that are fueling African American Spirits ecosystem we are able to position brands for Capital investment, distribution and national chain retail opportunities, this ultimately generates growth and sustainability”.

We were proud to support such an influential initiative and to be a part of each event itself. Hearing the stories of so many brands and learning what we can do to help as well has made participating in Taste of Black Spirits events such a great experience.