BOTL’D is a black LGBTQ+ owned ready to drink cocktail company. The firm was co-founded by boyfriends Stephan and Greg during the height of the pandemic in January 2021. BOTL’D’s artisanal, handcrafted cocktails are made from top-shelf spirits. The products contain natural sweeteners, without preservatives.
I had the honor to catch up with a representative from BOTL’D; via email, we discuss Stephan and Greg’s amazing story to bring this product to life, plans for expansion and more.
PrideIndex (PI): Share your journey to bring BOTL’D to the marketplace.
BOTL’D REP (BR): It all started at the dinner table in the middle of the pandemic.
While eating dinner and getting to know each other (as new couples do nine months into a relationship during a pandemic), Greg told Stephan his dream of owning a booze truck called “Tafya”.
Tafya — meaning alcohol in Haitian creole — would pay homage to his Haitian roots, incorporate Greg’s love of making cocktails, and would specialize in making Haitian-inspired drinks for pickup or delivery. Stephan loved the idea and encouraged Greg to pursue it. However, after some initial research into buying a truck and starting Tafya, Greg’s dream seemed unreachable.
Stephan did not let Greg’s dream die and helped revitalize it into what it is now. Using his innate creativity, Stephan came up with the trendy name, logo, and tagline, and the rest is history. Within a month of inception, BOTL’D formally launched with its Season 1 Tastes in January 2021.
PI: What obstacles did you face, and how did you overcome them?
BR: The first obstacle BOTL’D faced was buying a truck. It was something we weren’t financially in a position to acquire, but it didn’t stop us. We just returned to the drawing board and edited the vision down to something less expensive and easier to execute with a car instead…hence our local delivery.
Other obstacles faced were:
- coming out of our own pockets to fund every purchase,
- conflict regarding differences (creative and otherwise), and
- prioritizing our relationship while juggling our full-time jobs and other responsibilities.
To overcome the aforementioned (and it’s still a work in progress), we realized that if BOTL’D is to become our legacy, we will have to be patient with each other, communicate effectively, and respect our differences. Compromises and sacrifices would have to be made, but not at the expense of our relationship. If we are good, then BOTL’D is good.
PI: Who came up with the concept and name for the product?
BR: The concept was initially envisioned by Greg, but Stephan came up with the name, tagline, and logo of BOTL’D.
PI: Talk about the principals and their experience. Does this experience include work in the hospitality or food and beverage industries?
BR: Greg has experience in the hospitality industry, working for Marriott Hotels in Atlanta and DC. He also worked at the One Hill South apartment building in DC. His interest in mixology started before his experiences in hospitality; however, those experiences invigorated his interest in mixology.
Stephan has eight years of experience with non-profit organizations, which lends a hand in the communication and marketing of BOTL’D. He is the creative director of BOTL’D.
PI: BOTL’D is available in the DMV area, are there plans to expand elsewhere?
BR: We currently ship nationally, but our vision to expand BOTL’D from an online retailer to brick-and-mortar locations.
PI: BOTL’D is branded as an LGBTQ+ company. Are there any concerns about limiting yourselves as a niche product?
BR: We do not have any concerns about limiting ourselves as a niche product. Our community has supported us, but so have our cishet friends, family, and customers. BOTL’D is for any and every one that loves a deliciously BOLD cocktail.
PI: Talk about the marketing experience. When and where has this product been promoted?
BR: We have been fortunate enough to market and promote BOTL’D in the following ways:
- A signature drink curated for the 2021 Howard University Pharmacy Alumni Association (HUPAA) virtual fundraiser.
- An appearance on IG live show The Outtakes: Live with Ryan and Bowie.
- An appearance on He Said, He Said, He Said, an NNPA Black Press webshow.
- An appearance on Team Rayceen Productions‘ YouTube Live.
- A highlight in Voyage Baltimore and an upcoming highlight in Voyage ATL.
- Upcoming product placement in Risk: The Series.
- A Black History Month virtual happy hour with Under Armour.
- A current partnership with queer non-profit, Black, Gay, Stuck at Home.
PI: What does the future hold for BOTL’D?
BR: It is our hope that BOTL’D continues to grow organically and exponentially so we can quit our 9-to-5’s and focus on it full time. We envision BOTL’D becoming a standout in the ready-to-drink (RTD) market and a household name/product. Beyonce knowing who we are would be cool too. The possibilities are endless, but we’re excited to be on this journey.