It easy to think of big name brands when it comes to the spirits industry, but in all actuality, the industry is full of innovative entrepreneurs ready to disrupt the market and gain consumers’ loyalty. Tiffany Hall, the owner of Empower Cocktails, is one of them and she’s here to make her mark with her first cocktail offering, the Empower Cosmopolitan Martini.
Hall, who comes from a career of law, sat with us to discuss how she took a career detour to start a company that empowers women and makes a bold statement in a bottle.
What inspired you to work in the spirits industry and how did you know it was the industry for you? Tell us how you got started.
I started my career in marketing and while in marketing, I worked in a variety of industries from the ad agency world, to music and even fine arts. What I tend to be attracted to were industries that reached out to consumers when they’re in their relaxation mode and at their happiest, and that’s really what attracted me to it at first.
I had never met anyone who worked in wine and spirits before but what I have learned about it by nature is just the global presence and its impact on economics. Particularly as a lawyer, as you can imagine, there’s a lot of fun that goes into it, but there’s a significant amount of rules and laws that go into ensuring that people are drinking responsibly and thoughtfully.
How long were you a lawyer at Pernod Richard before you started Empower Cocktails? When did you get your AHA moment?
I was Pernod Richard for about five years, working specifically in their legal group and looking at marketing and advertising issues specifically. Everything from sponsorships, to events and general programming for various products.
Even though I started this venture in the last few years, I have always wanted to do something entrepreneurial. You end up taking stock of the different experiences you’ve had and where you think there’s an opportunity to be able to launch a business. I left to work in a different industry, but while I was there, I always felt the wine and spirits industry was still very intriguing.
It’s an industry where people are always looking for new product and people are open to them. So that’s one dominant reason why I wanted to take a plunge in the spirits industry and start a product like mine.
It’s almost as if the industry was calling you back. How did you achieve seeing your vision for Empower come to pass?
What’s very interesting about this is that I certainly had experience and alliances in my previous work, but there was a lot of it that I did not know anything about. From manufacturing to production distribution, there was a lot of areas where I had to get up to speed on. So what I would say has contributed to the ability to manifest the vision was one, determination and focus on the goal and secondly, really leveraging the network that I have built throughout my career.
To me, I’m still surprised when I go into the store and see it just because it took a lot to get there. I launched in New York City and Connecticut and quickly grew to five states and also available online so what I enjoy doing is a lot of tastings in stores and going to events where the product is featured. I find that a lot of people are receptive of the product because of its taste and the unique factor: the sweet potato vodka which a lot of people haven’t had, but I also find that a lot of people identify with me and my story.
What you find is that there are a lot of people who want to start their own business and they have ideas but they’re not quite sure where to start so when they find out it’s my company, and I’m pouring the product at the tasting or event, that conversation always takes place. There’s always a surprise of, “Oh my God, it’s yours?”
Let’s discuss the production of the product. Why did you decide to make a sweet potato vodka?
My initial goal was to do a potato vodka just because there are a few brands out that have it but when I was looking in the United States, there was limited supply. In the process, someone mentioned to me that there was a sweet potato farm in Northern California and that it might be really interesting. I had never tried sweet potato vodka before but I took my recipe to the distiller in California and the sweet potato vodka worked out really well. It really came about by chance and I was lucky enough to find an incredible team that was based here in the U.S.
How does the logo play a role in your mission for Empower? What significance does it have?
The basis of Empower Cocktails was really to create a brand that targeted to women, and one that is celebrating women. You hear that word so often but luckily, I was able to get the trademark for that and I want to take it a step further and let women know that I really made the product for them. So I took the W out of Empower to really feature it above as a call out to women and let them know they’re celebrated.
What can we expect next from Empower Cocktails?
Of course, we’re looking to expand to more store and more states. For spirits, there’s no national distributor, you literally have to go state by state so looking to expand in the states we’re currently in. Long term, looking to be known as a national and international brand and in the process of that, growing our capital. I really have been trying to expand the knowledge of the cosmopolitan and once that’s achieved, I’ll be moving on to more products.
Empower Cocktails is available online but be sure to visit one of their 30+ locations in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts to try it first-hand. For recipes, more on Hall and where to buy, visit http://www.empowercocktails.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.