Drake said we're "drinking every night because we drink to my accomplishments," and in 2021 why not do it with a Black-owned beer, wine or liquor of your choice, especially when the brand is also founded by women? Finding Black-owned liquor and wine can already be a challenge, but add woman-owned to that and the options dwindle even further. For context, less than 1% of all U.S. wineries are Black-owned, but Black people make up more than 10% of American wine consumption. The math here ain't mathing, and it's time to change that.
While I enjoy meeting up with friends at a bar to have a fancy cocktail and catch up, my half-year in quarantine had me appreciating stocking my bar cart and enjoying my sips at home. Personally, I'm a wine and whiskey kind of gal, but I still love to experiment with new brands that pique my interest. More recently I've been on a mission to support more Black-owned alcohol brands, and if a Black woman is behind it? Even better!
Check out some of these alcohol brands owned by Black women that you can bring to the next game night or have at home by yourself:
Founder: Abisola Abidemi
Tell us about Abisola Whiskey and why more women should be drinking whiskey.
Abisola: Our [whiskey] is a non-traditional, young whiskey that's here to celebrate the modern-day whiskey drinker. The typical whiskey drinker has changed and evolved; they've gotten younger, more women are drinking whiskey. I mean, there's this whole evolution of whiskey that has been happening for the past twenty years. I wanted to create a brand that celebrated this and celebrated people's every day achievements, all while creating a legacy for my generation.
"More women should be drinking whiskey because it tastes amazing! There's so much versatility with whiskey and you can see that by all the whiskies that are out there."
Take it straight, take a shot of it, make an amazing cocktail with it; whiskey can do it all. And so can women. Women can do it all, women are versatile and strong; honestly, it's a perfect match!
What has it been like entering the spirits industry as a Black woman? What have been some challenges?
It's been quite a whirlwind of rejection, of excitement, of meeting different people and being inspired. It's been overall amazing, even the rejections, even the negative feedback. I just launched in May of this year and have learned so much being in this industry. In terms of challenges, I will say that the largest one has been that sometimes I don't get taken seriously. I mean, you have a young girl with a young whiskey that tastes nothing like what's out there right now? So, there's a lot of doubt about whether or not this can even be good or how can people be interested in this?
I just nod my head and take it on the chin, you know? Because I believe in this, I believe in the taste, the brand, the celebration, all of it.
Founder: Marvina Robinson
Tell us about B. Stuyvesant Champagne.
Marvina: It's a boutique brand champagne that publicly launched in February 2020. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. —Bedford Stuyvesant—which is what the brand is named after. Being in the wine industry is very new for me, as I've worked on Wall Street for 20 years. I went to Norfolk State University for undergraduate and studied Biology, received my M.A. in statistics from Columbia University. I'm a lover of champagne and the original goal was to open a champagne bar. I wanted a private label for the bar. COVID forced me to pivot as it was not the best time to sign a new lease, and I was asked to put the bottles on shelves for retail. I was nervous because that was not my original plan, but it was the best decision I made.
How would you describe your journey into the champagne industry? What have been some challenges?
I am far from mainstream, I wish I could be mainstream but the brand is not a norm. I let it grow and branch out organically. I am not backed by any investors, celebrity names, or venture capitalist funding so I am doing everything on my own. I do not mind it at all because this is the best way to learn and it is a woman-made brand from the ground up.
I would say it has been interesting, some good and some bad. I always get asked, "Is this real champagne?" It can only be called champagne if it comes from the Champagne region [of France]. The bad is that I am questioned about the authenticity. The good is that the brand has been embraced by many and growing daily.
What are some goals for the brand going forward?
I would love to have the brand be global, as well as be the go-to brand for the hospitality industry. It's a lot of work for me but I am looking forward to doing the work in order for me to reach this goal!
Founder: Alisa Mercado
What has it been like entering the beer industry as a Black woman? What have been some challenges?
Alisa: It's been inspiring entering the beer industry as a Black woman as it allowed me to identify the lack of representation and to build and strive to change that. I was the first African-American, woman-owned beer brand in the state of Connecticut (fourth in the country). Challenges have included getting the brand out there like those that have been nationally distributed and around for decades. Our products can be found in locations such as Whole Foods, Total Wine, Trader Joe's, Big Y, and ShopRite, just to name a few.
What makes your beer stand out from others currently on the market?
Our beer is unique and stands out because we specialize in classic traditional beer, which are lagers. But we only identify with brands like Bud, Heineken, Coors and Corona. Our products are unfiltered which means there is a health benefit. We want to make sure that we drink in moderation but we also don't pump bad stuff into our bodies or our communities.
Founder: Nayana Ferguson
Would you describe your path as more mainstream or indie in regards to getting your brand out there?
Nayana: I think we are definitely leaning toward the indie path rather than mainstream [in order to get] the Anteel brand out there. When we started, we did not have the large budgets to follow a mainstream path that major brands can. We used social media consistently to grow our brand and my husband, who knows quite a bit about social media marketing, used some tactics to not only grow visibility for the brand, but to create a strong, dedicated following.
When we first launched in our home state, we visited over 150 retailers in three months, by ourselves, seeking product placement. We also conducted all the in-store tastings, handled all the marketing internally, and did the majority of our own PR outreach. Doing everything ourselves taught us a lot and kept us focused on turning Anteel Tequila into a well-known tequila brand around the country.
What has it been like entering the spirits industry as a Black woman?
As a Black woman owner, entering the spirits industry has had its challenges, but I have overcome them by focusing on my goals and by adapting when necessary. I am extremely grateful to be able to create a path for others to follow, where we can create brands that speak to our ingenuity, culture and vision.
It is extremely important to me to make sure that I am helping to inspire women to create and execute whatever vision they have for their lives and to bring diversity in the areas they choose to be a part of.
Women have to be fearless when creating the businesses that they are passionate about and not let obstacles deter them. I look forward to continuing to move forward on this path and bringing other women with me, so that we all can create our legacies.
What is your favorite cocktail to make with your tequila?
I have several favorite cocktails that we make with Anteel Tequila and it truly depends on the season. However, I would have to say that my favorite cocktail to make is the Coconut Lime Margarita. It is a very simple cocktail consisting of only three ingredients. It is a one-of-a-kind cocktail, since it is made with the world's only Coconut Lime Blanco Tequila and it is a cocktail that I can drink in any season.
Founder: Chrishon Lampley
Tell us about Love Cork Screw.
Chrishon: It's the wine and lifestyle brand you bring to a game night with friends, the brand you introduce to board members at an annual gala, and the brand you experience for the first time at a couples' paint-and-sip event. We know that we are not your traditional wine but because of our deep commitment to providing quality, we are sure to quickly become one of your favorites!
What does it mean to you to be one of only a small percentage of Black women in this industry and what have been some challenges?
Not being taken seriously as an African-American woman negociant (a wine trader or merchant), which did not give me the ability to build genuine relationships with wine decision-makers to reach the masses. Another challenge would be not receiving financial support from grants due to the industry.
Being one of only a small number of Black women in wine means a lot to me, and now I have more room to break glass ceilings till there's no more to be broken!
Image courtesy of Redd Rose
Founder: Taylor Jackson
Tell us about Redd Rose and the "why" behind starting your own brand.
It's a flavored vodka brand that is named after my grandmother Rose Redd, who was the first African-American woman to own a recycling business in Ohio. The brand is #BEcauseofHER. She was a first-class woman who defied the odds in creating a business that she worked and gave other people the opportunity to showcase their items to sell. She was strong, resilient, and outspoken. What better way [to honor her] than to create a brand in a male-dominated industry.
Would you describe your path as more mainstream or indie in regards to getting your brand out there?
Mainstream. When Redd Rose hit the market, I told her story first and my "why" per se. This is the most important, as Redd Rose is not the next vodka brand to just sit on the shelves, but the next Vodka brand to sit on your shelf. Something I realized is that people purchase what they like because they like it. There is no story or real person behind the majority of the marketplace, but Redd Rose has a story with a real personal behind it.
What makes your vodka stand out from the other brands?
Redd Rose can be sipped over ice, no mixer, no chaser. It's just that simple. It's a brand that is made for the hardworking, resilient, strong and confident women.
For more job search tips, career advice and profiles, check out the xoNecole Workin Girl section here.
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Robin D. Thomas is a brunch loving, Brooklyn born and raised Licensed Social Worker currently working in the Bronx. When she's not writing about all things wellness, entertainment and love, you can find her eating her way through different cities and tending to her plants. Connect with her on IG and Twitter at @_MissRobin or on her Instagram wellness page @thisnoirethat.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Something that I honestly don’t mind doing, for the most part, is aging. Even though I absolutely know that genetics play a huge part in what I’m about to say, as time keeps on moving, I really do get that the more intentional I am about my health, the more I can be a poster child for what looking damn near magnificent at my age can truly be. If anything, the only thing that kind of gets on my nerves (just a lil’ bit) is that I have to proactively stay on top of things that I never had to consider before my 40s decided to show up. One of those things is how sensitive my vagina and vulva seem to be getting.
“Sensitive” in the sense that I can’t just eat whatever and not feel the repercussions down there on some level (check out “Here’s What Your Vagina Wishes You Would Eat LESS Of”). Also, it’s weird, but certain types of underwear seem to make “her” roll her eyes at me, too; I think it’s because, as estrogen levels shift as we get older, vaginal walls and vulvar skin tends to become thinner and more fragile.
Factoring all of this in is why, not only do I get new pairs of panties every six months or so, but I also am a bit more particular about the kinds that I buy — these days, cute is still a priority; it’s just that they’ve gotta look good and have some of the specific qualities that I’m about to share with you now. And you know what? Ever since I’ve been more intentional and hypervigilant when it comes to my panty shopping list, my vagina really has been that much happier. She really has.
Now for my top 10 suggestions as far as panty shopping goes, please look for the following.
1. Natural Fibers
For the sake of time and space, I’m going to use “vagina” for both the inner tube that connects your cervix to your vaginal opening (which is actually your vagina) and the outside of your vagina (which is your vulva) quite a bit. Just thought that should go on record to avoid any potential confusion.
That said, something that your vagina needs to do is breathe. That’s why, when it comes to the types of fabric that you should go with when it comes to your vagina, cotton needs to always top the list — well, that or bamboo, which is steadily becoming a fan favorite. That’s because it’s hypoallergenic, sustainable, contains antibacterial and antifungal, and (get this) it doesn’t shrink after several washes.
Another nice option is silk. It feels really soft on your skin, is pretty moisture-wicking (more on that in a sec), and, if you want panties that look and feel a bit more “high-end,” silk can get that done for you without irritating your skin like lace might. As far as synthetic fibers like nylon, polyester, and rayon? Eh, not for everyday wear. Satin is okay, but it really is best for lounging around in or for lingerie (same goes for lace).
As far as actual panty styles go, briefs (any cut), hipsters, bikinis, boy shorts, and mid-rise are wise options. They fit well and give your vagina and butt the space that it needs.
As far as the whole moisture-wicking thing goes, when it comes to your undies and your workout wear, look for items that say that on the package and/or labels. Moisture-wicking simply means that the material is made in such a way that it draws moisture away from your body and onto the outer layer of whatever it is that you have on; as a result, it helps the moisture to dry faster. Your vagina benefits from this because it’s already naturally lubricated and warm down there — so when there is too much moisture, that can make it a breeding ground for vaginal infections if you’re not careful.
If you’re wondering which underwear brands are best as far as moisture-wicking is concerned, Women’s Health can hook you up. Check out their article, “18 Best Moisture-Wicking Underwear, Per Gynecologists And Reviews”.
3. Built-In Gussets
You know that little pocket of fabric that’s on the inside of panties? It wasn’t until I saw a TikTok that featured a woman putting some dollar bills into it (you can get some context here) that I gave it much thought. Well, it’s called a gusset, and what it does is 1) make your panties stronger and 2) help to absorb moisture, so definitely get panties that include them (many thongs don’t, by the way).
Oh, and as far as that lil’ hack that I just mentioned? I’m not sure how you can discreetly get your moola out that way. Plus, money is dirtier than a toilet (which is why some restaurants have shifted to a card-only policy ever since COVID), so…there’s that. If you wanna test the hack out anyway, please wrap the money in a tiny plastic baggie first; just to be on the safe side.
4. Proper Fit
If you’ve ever heard that 80 percent of women wear the wrong size bra,HuffPost recently ran a piece that claims that this finding is still true (get professionally fitted, y’all…it makes all the difference in the world!). And if that many of us aren’t wearing the right size up top, I’m pretty sure that plenty aren’t down below either. One way to know is if the band around your waist or thighs feels too snug. Another is if you can see your panty lines through your clothing.
And here’s the thing — when panties are too snug, they also trap in moisture, which can trigger an infection (if not immediately, eventually). Not only that, but they can irritate your vulva “thanks” (which is really, no thanks) to the friction that tight drawers can create. Sometimes, finding the right panties can be a bit of trial and error. That’s okay. It’s worth it to find the ones that fit you like a glove. I know this firsthand.
5. Ones That Stay Out of Your Butt Crack (No, Seriously)
Thongs can be sexy. I get that. Personally, I can’t see comfortably keeping them on for more than a few minutes, which is why I think they’re a good foreplay option, and that’s about it (#Elmoshrug). Not only that, but they aren’t the most hygienic things in the world. You’ve got this thin piece of fabric that moves in and out of your butt crack, and that makes it easier for fecal matter to shift from your backside to your vagina (no joke). I mean, we’re taught to wipe from front to back, right? Thongs don’t care about that rule. And since there is reportedly one-tenth of a gram of crap in each pair of underwear already…yeah, wear things sparingly. Your vagina is begging you.
We all have “period drawers.” Still, if you’re someone who wears tampons or menstrual cups instead of pads, you really shouldn’t keep those around for more than 3-4 months tops. Although washing them (effectively) should get rid of the bacteria that come from the blood, there’s always a chance that it won’t. So, just to be on the safe side, don’t keep period panties forever simply because you only wear them once a month. Oh, and if you’ve always wondered about if period panties are safe — eh. Many do contain per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are potentially harmful. You can read more about all of that here, here, and here so that you can come to a decision that is truly best for you.
7. Super Dry
There’s nothing wrong with carrying a couple of extra panties along with you, just in case. Personally, I think the move is brilliant because if it’s a really hot day (for instance) and your panties are damp, putting on a fresh and dry pair will significantly reduce the chances of your vagina getting itchy and/or irritated. Yeah, if there’s one top rule for panties that your vagina absolutely adores, DRY ONES are what I’m sure she’s yelling from the very top of her lungs.
8. Not At Night
Any part of your body being covered up for 24 hours at a time, seven days a week, nonstop, is going to cause some problems at some point (which is why some women opt to not wear panties, pretty much…ever; check out “10 Women Told Me Why They Stopped Wearing Panties (And They Don't Regret It)”). This is the reason why it really is a good idea to sleep naked (or at least with no panties on) as often as possible. It gives your vagina some time to literally chill out before it has to go through another, what, at least 12-16 hours of being cooped up on a pair of drawers again.
While we’re here, make sure that your sheets are made out of cotton, bamboo, silk, or some other type of breathable fiber. It’s pretty counterproductive to have no panties on, and yet you’re still sweating because your sheets aren’t moisture-wicking. Feel me?
9. Annual Swap Outs
Listen, if there’s one thing that social media has taught me, it’s that some people have the strangest cleanliness (or lack thereof) habits on the entire planet. That’s why I take certain suggestions, by certain “folks”, with a grain of salt. For instance, even though some people think that panties don’t need an expiration date, I go with others who believe that they absolutely do (for instance, due to what I said about the whole thong thing).
I mean, if changing them a couple of times a day is a good move, why would I want to hold on to discharge, pubic hair and bacteria holders for longer than a year or so? Yeah, treat your vagina and yourself to no less than an annual new panty-shopping excursion. See it as self-maintenance self-love…because it is.
10. Hand-Washed Is Preferred. Because…
If you’ve been on the fence about getting your own washer and dryer, Google articles on how nasty a washing machine (especially) can be — especially one at a public laundromat; it’s literally a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria. I’ve even read before that one dirty item will easily spread to 90 percent of everything else in the washer. Lawd. That’s why, if you do have your own washing machine, you should clean it every month (some use bleach; I prefer white vinegar). And when it comes to your panties, you may want to go with handwashing them.
Not only will that help to keep the “gunk” in your washer away from your delicates, but you can also keep harsher detergents from irritating your vagina too (if you want to take a stab at making some of your own, a cool recipe is here). By the way, if you’re like me and you’ve got a ton of undies, a salad spinner (that’s solely devoted to cleaning your panties) can save you some time. You can read more about it here.
Now that you know what kind of panties your vagina is actually into, if it’s time to get some new ones, budget for that. Underwear is certainly not a luxury. As you can see, a good quality pair is a necessity for all kinds of different reasons.
Your vagina does so much for you — take good care of her. Get some new (and vaginally responsible) drawers, chile. SOON.
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