Thriving businesses and the women behind them

Bringing in three trillion dollars and providing more than twenty three million jobs, the eight million businesses run by women nationwide have set a standard that cannot be ignored: female owned businesses make a huge economic impact. The women owned businesses in The District are no exception; these businesses are large contributors to the successful growth and fiscal health of the economy. DC takes the title for the state with the highest percentage of women owned businesses relative to men-owned and equally-owned, effectively making it a mecca for female generated startups (Women Owned Businesses, NWBC). While it is often difficult to see the positive effects these businesses have when speaking from a national standpoint, three local businesses are highlighting the power that female business owners place in their businesses; Craft Kombucha and BYOC (Bring Your Own Cocktail) are prime examples of prospering female owned businesses.

Records show that DC sees women running and operating restaurants, distilleries, and breweries today more than ever before. As we travel deeper into The District, into a part of town that is rich in community and entrepreneurs, we meet the women behind the businesses that are transforming their neighborhoods and local economies.

Local DC chef, Amy Brandwein, says “the best way to perpetuate the revolution of women in the food and beverage industries is to keep talking about the women who are succeeding” and opening doors for everyone involved. Fueled by her friends and her dog, Guinness, the owner of Craft Kombucha, Antonia Loucks, turned something that was new and refreshing into a neighborhood favorite.

Her kombucha journey began when she realized that she could make fermented tea; once she mastered the process, she began making it for her friends and family every once in awhile, but days turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, and before she knew it, she had been making kombucha for decades.Her hobby became a profession when she accidently brewed more kombucha than any single person could drink. In order to get rid of it, she started handing it out to the friends she had acquired from walks with her dog, Guinness; word spread quickly that someone in Mount Pleasant was making Kombucha and a need began to form because of it, so as a direct response, her business venture into the kombucha realm began. She began selling her kombucha at farmer’s markets while brewing in the famous Heller’s Kitchen. Quickly expanding, she has been able to have a presence at five farmer’s markets, partner with 6 restaurants and operate out of a commercial kitchen space in Union Market. Loucks realized the impact her drinks had on the community when she showed up to the farmer’s market in the pouring rain and all of her customers were there waiting and ready to stock up for the week. Her business has become something community members look forward to. In doing so, she has created a lasting contribution to the revolution of women in the food and beverage industries.

BYOC co-owners, Shayla Hamlin and Amanda Sussex put their careers in health policy in the rear view to focus on creating fun in a bottle; bottling up your favorite cocktail, they created a way to keep cocktails as mobile as your location. BYOC, also known as Bring Your Own Cocktail, is a  signature craft cocktail company that packages pre-made cocktails made from fresh pressed juices. Each bottle is in a plastic container so you can take it anywhere. With the option to choose from five delicious flavors, you don’t have to worry about the fun running out, as each bottle is the equivalent of two cocktails.

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Despite the fact that they’ve only been open a short while, BYOC can be found in 17 stores and they have plans to expand to neighborhoods and college campuses alike. Hamlin and Sussex are taking the alcohol industry by storm with their ability to not be easily deterred by challenges, roadblocks, and others who may want to alter their vision - traits that are especially helpful to the young women who are watching their hard work pay off. Hamlin and Sussex are a beacon of light for young women who dream of opening their own business one day. These ladies have turned their dreams into a reality while simultaneously touching lives and leaving their legacy on their community by emphasizing commitment to your dreams and creating a business that answers and caters to the needs of the community.

The women behind these local businesses and so many others are touching the lives of community members and raising the economic bar for their neighborhoods. Hamlin, Sussex, and Loucks, along with many others, are strong, savvy, and capable of showcasing the power of female owned businesses. District Bridges is proud to support them!

Sources:

Nania, Rachel. "D.C. Sees More Women Running Restaurants, Breweries, Distilleries." WTOP. WTOP, 04 Apr. 2017. Web. 23 June 2017.

National Women's Business Council, comp. "Women-Owned Businesses (WOBs)." National Women's Business Council (n.d.): n. pag. 2012. Web.

Written by District Bridges summer intern Megan Jordan and edited by Ariana Martin.

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