After being formally introduced to the Detroit market through the Taste of Black Spirits showcase in May, Motu Viget Spirits is bringing the same event – and no less than 20 Black-owned brands – to their home base of Grand Rapids, MI.
Set for Nov. 13, Taste of Black Spirits – Grand Rapids will position emerging brands like Motu Viget and Red Hazel Spiced Whiskey alongside more established and buzzworthy brands like Uncle Nearest and LS Liqueur for during a fully curated tasting event. This will give attendees the opportunity to get just as familiar with the different spirits as they are with different brands.
The event was conceptualized by Lazar Favors, owner of Black Spirits Legacy and a market development liaison for Uncle Nearest. Motu Viget co-founder Willie “The Kid” Jackson tells BLACK ENTERPRISE that the inspiration behind the event is a simple one: to “create awareness about African American founded spirits brands with the intentions of expanding distribution opportunities.”
“As an entrepreneur myself who represents minority ownership in the craft spirits industry, it is not enough to only participate and have individualistic success in the market,” he adds. “We have a fiduciary responsibility to empower the ecosystem of Black spirits companies as a whole and help other brands gain access to larger retailers, all while helping the community familiarize itself with diverse founders and ownership.”
Launched in 2020, Motu Viget is already realizing some of the success the company hopes to see become a standard for Black-owned craft spirits brands. The company, which launched with a signature Brut, has now expanded to include Eye Candy Rose wine and Avani Supreme Vodka. The three sub-brands are currently available in 300 retailers in Michigan, including 70 Meijer Super Center grocery stores. The Motu Viget brut is also available online.
By bringing Taste of Black Spirits to Grand Rapids, and possibly other markets, Jackson and his partner Jonathan Jelks hope to begin cultivating an audience that will seek out these brands by name, thus creating the type of demand that will inspire confidence in distributors.
“In 2021, it’s vital for community stakeholders to not just discuss diversity in a vaccum,” says Jelks. “but to also lead by constructively creating opportunities and pipelines that will help entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities grow.”