Where are the women in the alcohol industry? It seems every advertisement for beer or liquor contains a hyper-masculine gentleman seductively sipping a sleek drink at the bar or a cowboy balancing on a bucking bull with beer in hand. We never get to see the women who drink – and make – the beverages we love so much. ELYSIAN is here to change that. We spoke with Chanel Turner, founder and CEO of FOU-DRÉ, a luxury vodka brand taking liquor stores by storm, about the joys and hardships of being a woman in the alcohol industry.
Alcohol: Historically Feminine
Fermented beverages (alcohol) have been around since Before the Common Era – 7000 BCE to be precise – and it is believed that up until the 20th century, women were the predominant driving force behind the industry. In fact, in 2700 BCE, the Babylonians worshipped Ashnan, the goddess of grain and wine, and during prohibition, women were the most successful bootleggers.
Then why is the alcohol industry so male-centric? “It’s important to have women in the alcohol industry because let’s face it- females were made to lead” explains Chanel Turner, owner of FOU-DRÉ. “Women bring diverse perspectives to industries often jaded by the dominance of male ownership. The US alcohol industry is extremely antiquated and was monolithic up until recently. Women are great communicators, strategists, and innovators – all traits that are needed in the alcohol industry.”
Dunk, Distill, Repeat
So Turner took it upon herself to bring these traits to the proverbial table, explaining “I have always been one to take a challenge head on and knew since I was a child that wanted to own my own business…. I got a taste of entrepreneurship as a young girl and never looked back.” Later in life, Turner began to play sports, a decision she looks back on as the catalyst for her bold and intrepid outlook on business and life: “In middle school I found my passion for basketball and started to get serious about becoming an athlete. The perseverance and resilience that I learned on the court prepared me for the ebbs and flows of being an entrepreneur. I had to overcome being constantly told that I was too short to play basketball and in a way, this prepared me for the many rejections I would get as a female alcohol brand owner.”
Black Women in Business
As a Black female entrepreneur, Chanel Turner has worked incredibly hard to bring diversity and equity into the alcohol industry. While her experiences as a Black woman in the business have been “overall rewarding,” Turner notes that it has not been perfect. In fact, a big part of why Turner chose to enter the industry was due to the lack of representation; “When doing initial research I realized that there were few female owners particularly African-American female owners…. Looking back to when I first started, there were little to no people who looked like me present at conferences, trade shows, industry events etc…. My options for networking with peers who shared similar experiences were limited.”
Yet, as her career has evolved, Turner has found that “times have most certainly changed.” She notes “the fact that I am frequently contacted by other Black women who are just starting out or wish for mentorship is proof of how much things have changed. Sure, we still have a ways to go in terms of full inclusion and equity, however I am most optimistic and hopeful about the future.”
A Venerable Vodka
Turner’s vodka is just as unique as her journey into the alcohol industry. There are countless aspects of FOU-DRÉ that make it the best vodka around from its sleek lightning bolt bottle design to its distinct flavor profile. Turner explains that FOU-DRÉ “offers the full package of what a great spirit should be. It can be enjoyed neat or as the perfect base spirit in a craft cocktail.” The “infused exotic ingredients” give the vodka “a floral aroma and a tantalizing taste experience. It contains no artificial sweeteners or preservatives and is gluten free and a kosher product. We’re considered to be the ‘better choice spirit’ because consumers can enjoy this vodka and feel good knowing they’re drinking a high quality spirit.”
When asked about choosing the flavor profile, Turner notes “I actually tried 87 different flavor formulas before selecting the formula that is found in a FOU-DRÉ bottle today. I wanted a flavor that was unique using fruits that were atypical for alcohol infusion. The lychee and pomegranate offer sweetness, the lime balances the sweetness, the kiwi is surprisingly refreshing and the ginger adds an unexpected kick at the end.” Additionally, the vodka goes through a patented post-distillation process called the TerrePure process which makes it delicious even without a mixer.
As for the bottle, Turner says it “was inspired by my quest for individuality and freedom of expression. FOU-DRÉ is actually a play on the French word for lightning bolt, hence the bottle design. I have always been fascinated by the power associated with lightning so it seemed fitting to name my brand after it.”
Over Ice With a Twist
With FOU-DRÉ, Chanel Turner has certainly achieved individuality and freedom, in addition to building up the community of Black female business owners in America. “[Black women] have proven to be the most influential in the American consumer market so it only makes sense that we lead in business as well. [We] have been the backbone of this country yet are continuously unacknowledged and under-represented.” While these challenges are daunting, they haven’t slowed Turner down: “It’s an exhilarating time to be a Black woman in business.”
Stay tuned for more fun tips and tricks about creating your own exclusive cocktails for the holiday season using FOU-DRÉ. I, for one, can’t wait to settle down on the couch after work with a frosty glass of this delicious vodka. As for Turner, her favorite way to drink FOU-DRÉ is “over ice with a twist of lime. Nothing more, nothing less!”
Be sure to keep your eyes on ELYSIAN’s social media accounts for an exciting opportunity to win your own bottle of FOU-DRÉ for the holidays!
Written by Abby Coté