Three Black-owned spirits companies are sipping on success.
New York-based business incubator Pronghorn aims to help the next generation of Black entrepreneurs thrive, while expanding their brand’s investments. The Diageo-backed company has announced investments in three Black-owned spirits companies. Pronghorn’s capital investment in the three brands, Den of Thieves, Ego Tequila, and Tequila with Friends, will be supplemented with access to the company’s supercharging program.
Industry experts within the Pronghorn team will provide various consulting services to help accelerate the brands’ growth long term, as detailed on the company’s website.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to add these leaders and their brands to the Pronghorn family,” portfolio director Connor McKenna said in a press release.
“They are exactly the kind of visionary entrepreneurs we look for, individuals who will lead the way as together we build a more diverse and equitable spirits industry.”
Tequila with Friends (TWF) is a spirits brand launched by four entrepreneurs and long-time friends, Brandon Scott, Curnelius Arnick, Roddrick West, and Devin Woodson. In 2018, TWF launched after beginning as a blog for Tequila lovers. The company’s brand, rooted in friendship and fun, has grown to secure in-store listings in more than 150 locations across the U.S. during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Their retail footprint exists in Texas, California, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.
As for the bourbon brand Den of Thieves, it was founded by Jason Armstrong and created to “honor the spirit of old prohibition moonshiners’ ingenuity and camaraderie.” The company’s portfolio includes four core products that are distributed to six markets across the U.S and available online. Those core products are Straight Bourbon, 8-Year Barrel Select Bourbon, Ginger Vanilla Flavored Bourbon, and Chocolate Flavored Bourbon.
Ego Tequila, founded in 2019 by Rikki Kelly, claims to be the first Black woman-owned tequila in Texas and the third in the country. The self-taught 23-year-old launched the brand’s Blanco and Reposado flavors in 2021 with minimal experience in the category. The products are now distributed in Texas with 50 off-premises locations and sold online.
While Black Americans represent 12% of alcohol consumers across categories, they only make up 7.8% of the sector’s labor force and 2% of executives in the industry, according to research conducted by Pronghorn.
They add that there also have been zero acquisitions of Black-owned spirits brands.
As a response to address these disparities, Pronghorn’s mission is to generate $2.4 billion in economic value, fill 1,800 industry roles, and commit to 57 Black-owned brand investments by 2032.