Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Black entrepreneurship (led by Black women) has increased in the United States. As a result of the increase in Black entrepreneurs and the continued surge in social awareness among Black consumers, there has been an increase in supporting Black-owned businesses in every industry, including the alcohol industry.
Drizly, an online ordering and delivery platform that delivers alcohol from local retailers, has reported that the share of Black-owned brands grew 60% from 2020 to 2021. On their website, there is a shelf of Black-owned alcohol brands you can order to be delivered right to you.
But among those Black-owned brands, two of them have stood out not only because of their quality but because of their stories and the unique way they interact with their consumers; the McBride Sisters and the Brough Brothers.
The McBride Sisters
Robin and Andréa McBride are the owners, co-founders and presidents of McBride Sisters Wine Co. and the makers of the popular line of wines labeled Black Girl Magic.
Around 2016, the sisters wanted to make a wine that was special to them and a way to pay homage to women in their family and other women who have inspired them.
“We wanted to pay homage to our father’s family who’s originally from Alabama and is a family full of amazing, powerful and inspiring matriarchs,” says Robin. “The term [Black Girl Magic] immediately came to us and we thought, ‘what else do we name it?’ This is definitely what it is and this is why we created this wine.”
Robin continued, “It’s a celebration of the big and small wins every day and the acknowledgment that we wanted to give to ourselves, the women in our family, our friends and our loved ones.”
From the moment you pick up a bottle, in a large bold font, it reads, “Black Girl Magic,” for everyone to see and read. People can immediately understand the brand they are promoting and know they are supporting Black women in the process of enjoying a good bottle of wine.
Robin and Andréa, who have been in the wine business for 17 years, make it a point to be welcoming to people newly introduced to their brand. If you just check their Instagram, it gives you the vibe of someone who is enjoying their wine just as much as you are.
Just like us at home, they are cooking dinner, listening to music and watching their favorite TV show all while enjoying a good glass of wine just like their customers would at home. It’s a family affair! Robin says it all started with their McBride Sisters Collection of wine.
“We really started to see more of us as part of the wines and how they’re presented out to the world,” says Robin. “It’s about who’s making them, how it’s being enjoyed, and who it’s being enjoyed with, but always with the two of us at the forefront.”
“At the end of the day, it’s about who you’re drinking it with, what that environment is and the emotive part of experiencing the wine itself,” says Robin.
They were very intentional to not make it about themselves. For any campaign they are doing on social media, they are using user-generated content. They are showcasing the women who drink, gift and share the wines on an everyday basis, whether that’s over a meal with family or a party with their girlfriends.
But, the McBride sisters don’t just sell wine. They also showcase the culinary arts in combination with the wine that they are selling.
“For us, food and wine are closely connected. We have relationships with innovative and creative regional chefs, all the way up to James Beard award-winning chefs,” says Robin. “Traditionally, food and wine pairings are boring. We wanted to bring forward new traditions.”
For Black History Month, they launched their Dine the Diaspora program where they have chefs from Africa, the Caribbeans and the United States showcase how wine is a part of the food culture. They have chefs pair their wines with incredible dishes and not the “normal” and “boring” pairings you can get at any other restaurant.
Along with bringing together food and wine, the McBride sisters are also bringing together wine and books. Launched in 2021, they started a book club with Simon & Schuster, a publishing company, where they allow members to purchase Black Girl Magic Wine paired with books authored by Black Women.
“As the books are being published, our book club members can get them before they’re available to the public,” says Robin.
They are creating the Black Girl Magic that their wine is named after every day by interacting and sharing the wine-drinking experience with their consumers on a day-to-day basis. Now that’s magical.
The Brough Brothers
It’s another family affair with the Brough Brothers.
Victor, Bryson and Chris Yarbrough are the CEO, COO and CMO respectively. All of the brothers play a vital role in making sure they represent and put out a quality brand and product.
This can be difficult considering, the small number of minority owners who own an alcohol brand, let alone a brand of bourbon.
“It’s a legacy industry,” says Victor. “As a result, there are not many minorities with their own (bourbon) brand.”
The Brough Brothers are the first Black-owned bourbon distillery in the state of Kentucky. Which is significant considering the rich history of bourbon in the state. But, it also made for a difficult entry point for the brothers to launch their brand.
Years before getting their feet wet in the bourbon game in the United States, Victor was bottling and selling bourbon in the United Kingdom for over 10 years.
But while away from home, he learned about the growth prospects of bourbon outside of the United States and it led him and his brothers to start their brand in October of 2018 in the United Kingdom.
Once they built the confidence to succeed overseas, they came back state-side and launched Brough Brothers bourbon in March of 2020 in Kentucky.
But to separate themselves, these brothers did not just want to be another brand that wants people to buy a drink, they want consumers to buy into who they are as people.
“Brough brothers is the brand, but we just happen to sell bourbon,” says Victor. “So when people are connecting, they’re connecting with us as the Brough brothers and connecting with three brothers who are self-made and came from humble beginnings who do good business, hard work, great work ethic and integrity. We just happen to have great bourbon that goes with it.”
Which is reflected in the bottle they sell to consumers. They designed their bottle to present the culture of Kentucky through art. Each of the unique drawings on the bottle represents a piece of Kentucky’s culture which includes, basketball, boxing, horse racing and obviously bourbon.
The brothers, who are from Louisville, during the social justice protests of 2020 were right in the middle of it because the Breonna Taylor shooting happened in the same city.
But for them, the raised social awareness did not only increase support from African-Americans in the community, but it also increased support from retailers.
“In particular, we saw a lot of support come from the retailers,” says Victor. “Retailers will look for how to do something on their end and help level the playing field.”
As a result, they saw their bourbon sit in more storefronts across the state and country for that matter.
Brough Brothers are fortunate to have major retail partners like Drizly, Walmart, Kroger and Meijer.
But despite all of their success, they have not been able live in the moment and appreciate their accomplishments.
Victor says, “We haven’t necessarily taken the opportunity to kind of breathe in and relish the feeling because we’re constantly working towards the next goal, the next brand and the next spirit.”