Brand Marketing Manager, Lord Hobo Brewing Company
How did you get into beer?
The beer industry is one that I hadn’t thought too much about before I was working for Lord Hobo Brewing Co. My background is in marketing, primarily lifestyle marking and connecting brands to their communities in authentic ways. I had my own marking consultancy from 2014-2017 called Booger Money. A good friend of mine, Leah, introduced me to the GM of Lord Hobo Bar and they became one of my clients. That's where I was initially introduced to the Lord Hobo culture. I ended up bringing in a few DJs for an event that I curated at the bar, and one of the DJs happened to be the Director of Sales for the brewery. Once I connected with him, I started including Lord Hobo Brewing Co. as an exclusive beer partner for events that my company was producing – it was the perfect brand alignment demographic and vibe wise.
After a few events, people started associating me and my brand with Boomsauce. From there, I kept the conversation rolling about what the brewery was looking to achieve on the marketing side and how I might fit there. Initially I offered to consult for them, but it became very clear that this needed to be my full time gig and I had an opportunity to build my role from scratch. I couldn’t be working with a more passionate team and brilliant CEO.
Do you remember the first beer you ever had?
Haha, tough question, I really don’t. It was probably something like a Heineken.
What was the first beer that turned you on to craft beer?
I spent some time living in LA when I finished college. The beer culture out there was very different from where I was coming from being from Western MA, and going to college in Rhode Island. I do remember having a Racer 5 at a bar in Los Feliz and loving how strong it was.
What has your experience been like as a woman of color in the craft beer industry?
It’s interesting...Being a woman of color isn’t really something I would typically wake up every day and look in the mirror and say, “oh hey, woman of color, you’re going to crush it today!” I'm aware that the craft beer industry is dominated by white males which honestly gives me a strong competitive advantage over other places that aren't focused on building a diverse team. My role a is a huge opportunity for me to spread a unique perspective to our fans and keep it real.
Since I manage the strategy for all of our social channels, events, partnerships and sponsorships, having my finger on the send button when it comes to social media gives me the opportunity to spread awareness about the people you don’t typically think of when you think of craft beer. It is essential that our voice is versatile, diverse and relatable. I plan to convey that in different ways, whether it’s on our social media or our marketing campaigns – you’ll see, as we continue to build different elements of our business for example our merchandise, some pieces will have an upscale streetwear edge to them, they'll look and feel like royalty.
I’m always down to find ways to get more women of color and all people of color involved. It is an industry that could really use our insight and fresh perspectives. (Message from Drea: If anyone wants to connect, feel free to hit me up: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Are there other ways that misogyny and racism have shown up for you?
I haven’t really had any direct experience with misogyny and racism at our brewery. There are probably times where I go to an event that’s very upscale and I’m pouring beers (which I don't mind doing because it gives me direct insight into our consumer interactions) and people likely think I’m a hired third party brand ambassador or something, but I haven’t dealt with anything direct. At Lord Hobo Brewing Co. we have no tolerance for any of that fuckery.
There are so few women of color in the industry. I wonder if you get tired of people like me asking you about what it’s like to be a women of color in such a white, male-dominated space?
It’s pretty awesome actually. When I’m having these conversations, it’s important to me to answers these questions honestly. If I did feel like there was racism or misogyny because I’m a woman of color, I’d straight up have to tell you. When we don’t talk about the negative things that are going on, there are unspoken issues that other people can’t address.
I will battle my entire life as a strong minded woman of color in a world run by white males but that doesn't phase me. At work, I don’t feel like I'm responsible for having to crush any stereotypes, I just feel like I need to stay true to myself.
When I first heard the name Lord Hobo, I was like, “that’s kinda messed up.” But then I was reading about how the intention was to bridge the class divide, that the upper echelon and the hoi polloi should all have access to great brews. So then I was like, “hm, okay, I guess I see what you are trying to do.” The branding is very clean and a little irreverent. Is it intentional that you don’t include images on your cans?
I actually don’t work too closely with the graphic design as far as our cans go but I love our cans. I know that our CEO loves all things beautiful, so when it comes down to creating a premium product that people are proud to drink, I imagine that’s what went into the thought process when it comes to can design. It feels good to bring gorgeous cans to a party and to be drinking from a piece of art. Our cans are accessories in my opinion. The beer is for everyone to enjoy - Lords and Hobos alike, we all deserve to drink like royalty.
When I ask folks about ways they think the beer industry can be more inclusive, a lot of people will say events, like who you are reaching and which communities you show up for. As someone who runs events, do you think that’s true, and how do you not take the path of least resistance by just reaching more millennial white men?
Curating events is extremely important - they're a large portion of what we do as a brand and one of the ways that we are going to differentiate ourselves in the market. With that being said, the partners we select, the events that we choose to produce ourselves or agree to be a part of, really depend on what the event is focused on achieving.
We are always thinking ahead to where the people that may not be introduced to our beer otherwise would be and making sure that we’re there. It's also essential that when we are there we look good doing what we do. We have to be very particular about the partners that we choose and that they accurately reflect the ethos of our brand.
Do you ever get tired of the word “boom?”
I love the word boom! I have it in my email signature. Sometimes when I’m pouring at festivals, I say “BOOM” when I hand fans their filled taster class. Very often when I’m pouring at an event, someone comes up and they meekly say, “Um, I, Um, want to try the Boomsauce...” my reply is “say it like you mean it,” and they say, “I want to try the BOOMSAUCE!” I love it and I don’t get tired of it. It’s pretty much music to all of our ears.
What style of beer do you think is most overrated right now?
Basic beer. I mean, put a little pep in your step. Try something different. Wake your palate up. Something that doesn’t taste like water.
What do you mean by basic beer? Like PBR?
No, PBR is okay. I like PBR. I mean beer that doesn’t have a distinct flavor profile. I can’t think of a distinct style that’s getting too much hype. Personally I love sours and someone else might say they are overrated, but I'm into them.
What was the last beer you drank?
I had a meeting that went a little late today and I got to taste what will end up being a couple of our new beers that will be released in 2018.
Wow! Are you hyped about 2018?
I am so hyped! Our portfolio as it exists is amazing, and it’s great to be a part of growing a raving fan culture. When we start to release new beers, it will help us reach even more fans but we will never sacrifice quality for quantity. We'd much rather have a few world class beers than a ton of so-so beers.
What’s in your fridge right now?
I definitely have Glorious in there, some Exhibit ‘A’, Allagash Curieaux and some Hobo Life. I usually keep a four pack of Boomsauce just in case because you never know.
If you were in a pinch and had to swing by a mainstream grocery store or a 7-11 for beer, what would you get?
No way. You have Boomsauce at your 7-11?
Yeah we do! Boomsauce is everywhere!
There is no Boomsauce at my 7-11. Okay, well what would you get if there wasn’t any craft beer?
If there’s no craft beer?
Yeah, what would you get if craft beer wasn’t available?
Does it have to be alcoholic? Okay, if it’s not alcoholic, I’d get sugar free Red Bull. If that won’t do, I’d get a big bottle of cheap wine, it's 7'11 so it's not like I can grab an awesome bottle of an Argentinian Malbec.
Cheap wine! You have craft beer standards but no wine standards?
I have wine standards! I like nice wine, but I’m at a 7-11 with no craft beer and they don’t have whiskey, so a big bottle of cheap wine would do.
Is there anything else you want to share?
We are a beer and a brand for everyone, so there are no barriers when it comes to beer for us. We want to be the beer that you love and that you're proud to drink.
Lastly, I think that I’ll be able to make moves in the industry as a woman of color by finding other women in the community who also want to see change and having conversations like these. That'd likely be the most instrumental part of taking action.
Yes! The power of a critical mass is no joke.