Our BlackHer Shero of the Week is Tiffany Hall, attorney, entrepreneur, and founder of Empower Cocktails.
Thank you for talking to BlackHer! You are a practicing attorney and the owner of Empower Cocktails. Can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you’ve achieved?
I moved to New York City after attending college at Duke University and started a career in marketing on the business side. I was working on products in advertising, music, and fine arts. Marketing was fun and it allowed me to make a living while exploring my creative side, but I always planned to be a lawyer. After a couple of years in marketing, I went to Fordham Law. After law school, I worked for the largest wine and spirits company in the world, Pernod Ricard. That sparked my interest in the spirits business.
The truth is that while I was working for others, I also had an interest in pursuing something entrepreneurial. I enjoyed the corporate environment, but I also wanted to have an impact on the Black community and serve as an inspiration for others. I thought that I could do that as a business owner in a way that I couldn’t as a professional services provider. My thought was that I could own a business, provide jobs to folks, and maybe inspire them to pursue their own paths.
How did you settle on the spirit business? The hard liquor industry seems like a business that is dominated by men.
You are right. There actually aren’t a lot of women, especially Black women, in the wine or spirits business.
Personally, I spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of business I could pursue. When I started working in the wine and spirits world at Pernod, I saw an opportunity. It’s a business that is always looking for a new product because consumers want something new to drink. At bars, people always ask their bartenders “What do you think is good?” because they want variety.
I also thought that this business had great potential for women. In the spirits business, the product is typically focused on men and their experience of drinking – i.e. how drinking makes men feel. I felt that women should also have a breadth of choices when it comes to drinking and that we could enjoy it in new ways.
The name of my brand is Empower Cocktails and the first beverage that we are selling is the Empower Cosmopolitan Martini, which features a sweet potato vodka, triple sec, white cranberry, and lime. It’s my way of celebrating my female customers. I want women to be bold, confident, and celebrate life in some of the same ways that men do. We should be able to enjoy a drink and feel strong when we order.
“I’ll have an Empower Cosmopolitan Martini.” That sounds and feels great! Where can we find Empower Cocktails?
I started Empower in 2015 in New York City and Connecticut. Today, Empower is available in stores in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island as well as online.
We are becoming better known and that’s exciting. Empower was featured in the December 2018 issue of Essence Magazine’s Gift Guide. The cocktail was also selected for the MTV Video Music Awards gift bag for nominees, presenters, and performers. Empower was also the official cocktail in the backstage celebrity retreat at the NAACP Image Awards.
That’s all fantastic. Awards help build the brand. But my goal is for people to go into the store or go online and become repeat customers.
How can BlackHer readers and subscribers help with your business?
Folks can help by going to the store and picking up Empower Cocktails and sharing the spirit and the story. Our website identifies stores where Empower is sold. You can also buy Empower Cocktails for yourself or a friend online.
You might also share my story with your friends. When I attend tastings people often ask, “Who do you work for?” and I say, “This is my brand.” Once they get over the surprise, folks are excited for me. They connect to my story and share their own dreams of starting a business.
Is entrepreneurship a path to personal economic empowerment?
Yes. It can be for both an individual and the community. A successful product can give you economic power by generating revenue for you and others. Money matters since we all need it to live and support ourselves.
Also, Empower Cocktails engages other entrepreneurs. We work with a number of consultants and agencies on the ground on marketing, tastings, and public relations. What’s been exciting is that I have been able to hire a number of female entrepreneurs for this work. I work with some great women who are doing some fantastic things.
With a business, you can also serve the community in other ways in, which is a form of power. We’ve contracted with other business owners and partnered with several nonprofits that champion women’s initiatives, including Dress for Success Boston, and foundations like the Voss Foundation and the Metro-Manhattan Community Foundation.
What’s your best advice for Black women who want to achieve as you have?
Whatever your goal or dream, whether it is working for someone else or starting a business, write it down. Then your unwavering focus should be on moving toward that goal. Read books and articles and network in ways that relate to your interest. Put yourself into arenas that can make it possible. Tell people what you want to do, and don’t be afraid to share. People want to be helpful to you. They want you to thrive. They will help you if they see determination and a willingness to work hard.
Let me ask you the miracle questions. You wake up tomorrow and it is September 2020, and the miracle has occurred for Black women. What happened?
We are consistently connected with, positive toward and helping each other. As a result, it is possible for us to obtain any goal – be it personal, charitable or professional.