“We honor our legacy and we honor our history for Black History but I’m really focused on making sure that we are getting acknowledgment for the work we’re doing now and that people recognize that Black history is Black living history…”—Samara B. Davis
An Atlanta-based group that unites the spirits industry with Black bourbon enthusiasts recently gathered to celebrate legacy building leaders.
Black Bourbon Society, the membership-based organization open to everyone who enjoys premium spirits and is interested in gaining a deeper appreciation for America’s Native Spirit, held its Salon 7 Legacy Awards on Feb. 6 at The James Room.
The soiree served as an awards ceremony highlighting business leaders, creatives, and entrepreneurs who break barriers in the local community. The honorees dished on their work in their respective fields during a panel discussion while enjoying passed plates and Jack Daniel’s cocktails courtesy of Jack Daniel’s partnership with BBS.
This year’s honorees were Justin Triplett, Camaran Burke, Keyatta Mincey Parker, Ryan Wilson, Robert Butts, Melissa A. Mitchell, Bettina Benson, and Deborah Vantrece.
Ahead of the awards, Samara B. Davis, Founder of Black Bourbon Society, chatted with BOSSIP about the awards and BBS’ dedication to honoring Black History as it’s continuously created right before our eyes.
Tell us about Black Bourbon Society.
Black Bourbon Society is twofold. We have a membership, so we are society-based and we have an audience of over two 25,000 members across the country, and we do lots of educational opportunities, tastings, virtual content, and we also work with the brands who produce these, direct consumer events for them. We partner with lots of brands, and that’s we are able to do these activations. General membership is essentially just being part our private Facebook community, so of course, it’s free. And we provide this beautiful community of African American drinkers all over the country, and we do the educational piece.
We also have a society membership that gets more of an exclusive look behind the scenes and is a more intimate membership. So those members get discounts on our store swag, they get first dibs on all of our barrel picks that we do, they get a chance to go on trips with us when we go to Louisville, we’re also going to California later on in the year to look at facilities. So it’s a smaller group and they just have this deeper engagement. And they’re the ones that are super invested. And when we produce events in other cities, they buy plane tickets, they’re trying to go out and meet other folks. They’ve bonded and formed real relationships with the members from across the country. So that’s what our paid membership is.
Now, the other half of Black Bourbon Society, and what we’re really pushing forward, especially with this partnership with Jack Daniel’s, is that we work as an agency. So we work as a multicultural agency that advises brands on how to genuinely engage with consumers of color. And we work with them, we consult with them on how to build that strong connection with minority communities. But then also we have full service production. So we produce the events, we have social media campaigns about it, we do in-person events, virtual, digital content. We create whatever campaigns the brands are looking for in order to get in front of a black audience. But then we have that full-service ability, like logistics, PR, digital content creation, graphic design, the whole nine. So, yeah, so that’s what BBS is. It’s kind a beast of a brand now.
Tell us more about the Salon 7 Legacy Awards and how you picked the honorees.
Salon 7 is something that we created with our partners, Jack Daniel’s, during Black History Month and it’s really built around the theme of legacies and honoring Nearest Green, who is, of course, their first black master distiller, and the first master distiller, period. We all know the story kind of how Nearest Green actually taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey, taught Jack Daniel how to make his world-famous Jack Number Seven whiskey. And so we wanted to honor Nearest Green’s legacy by creating a legacy awards ceremony. Salon is something that comes straight out of the Harlem Renaissance, it’s when you used to have Zora Neale Hurston and Duke Ellington and some of the other jazz greats and some of the painters and artists at that time kind of all in a room, in the living room. They would be eating, there would be food there, and they would just be having a conversation about whatever was going on during that time period. So it wasn’t like a stiff panel discussion or like a Ted Talk but it was more like a living room conversation amongst greats. So that’s where the name Salon 7 comes from.
And so we’ve tied that together with Jack Daniel’s and this whole idea of what it means to have this Uncle Nearest Green legacy. And so we’ve selected these seven people, four are business folks or civic leaders in our community and I look at legacy as being twofold. You can either be carrying on the legacy like you have a family-generational legacy that you’re continuing to carry on, or you could be building a legacy for your future and for your future generations to take on and to continue to pass the torch.
And so we’ve found especially with our business people, our great legacy leaders, I’m going to call them that.
Melissa A. Mitchell is a wearable art designer.
She’s done collaborations with Spanx, with Nike, with Coach, with all the different labels and they’re all including her unique style of art. Very pop color, almost like an African print, but very fluid and just reformed thinking and bold. Her desire to go into this business and do wearable art, it really came from her father and watching her father hustle and her father be an entrepreneur his entire life. And he passed away when she was in college. But everything that she does is with the spirit of making her father proud and so she’s carrying that legacy on.
Another one of our out featured guests is Bettina Benson, who has a clothing line called Chloe Kristyn.
She’s a clothing designer and she’s got this whole business built off of working moms and moms who want to have affordable luxury and just be their best selves. At one point, her business employed other moms who were making the clothes based on the designs. So it was very much getting the mothers an income to be able to support their families. But she built that business, Chloe Kristyn, very much in mind to pass down to her daughter, Chloe. And so she’s passing her legacy forward. So those are just two of the seven that we are supporting.
And we are also honoring a nonprofit organization. The significance of the bottle that we’re doing here in Atlanta is that the proceeds from that bottle support a local nonprofit called A Sip of Paradise. And that was started by Keyatta Mincey, who is a Black woman, bartender, film producer, all the above.
But she started this community garden to support the bartenders and they use the garden as a flavor lab for their cocktails, but they also help to engage the community as well. So she’s getting all the proceeds. We’re not even getting paid off the bottle. She gets all the proceeds from the bottle to support her nonprofit organization. And our nonprofit, Diversity Distilled, is matching that donation.
Congrats to the honorees!
Black Bourbon Society will hold another Salon 7 Awards ceremony next month in New York.
For more information visit @BlackBourbonSociety, Blackbourbonsociety.com.
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