I was a co-founder in the creation of one of the liquor industry's most successful brands in the 21st century. The brand was built on my passion for innovation and raising bourbon to a higher art form and transforming its "good ol' boy" culture to one that was all inclusive.
I did not grow up with ready access to art; therefore the Sunday New York Times was my local MOMA. I used to collect the full page ads from the New York Times as a kid and I often pulled the Absolut™ ads for my files. When my father began discussing selling a bourbon he began with a generic name (Thoroughbred) I urged him to use our last name instead. I pitched the idea of a bourbon that was "as cool and innovative as the Absolut™ vodka campaign." I discussed with him at length what I felt that would entail: a modern label with a different color palette, an old made new easily held bottle, and a marketing campaign that went beyond typical Kentucky imagery. I was a sophomore in high school at the time.
From that point on I was pivotal in the shaping of the brand and I worked for our first marketing agency that came up with the original labels. I was involved in all of our secondary partnerships after. Indeed, I was the first and only employee of the Bulleit Distilling Company prior to it being acquired by Seagrams. My input changed the direction of the brand through numerous strategy meetings within and without of the family home and various corporate partners.
I attended universities and obtained the necessary degrees to help hone my natural born art skills and intelligence to be applied to what is known today as Bulleit bourbon. I graduated with a BA from Smith College with an Art major and Women Studies minor and later I obtained an MA from New York University with a 4.0 average.
I was the girl who wasn't afraid to get dirty - the one who washed over 2,500 glasses prior to whiskeyfest. I never had a secretary, or a travel agent: I managed myself and created the Hollis Bulleit™ brand with only the help of my wife (and the encouragement of mixologists nationally and internationally). I served as infrastructure to the family business and to the companies that owned the brand.
I was the woman who dressed up in elaborate homemade costumes and was never a diva because I believed in the credo that it was my place to be in service of my customers. And in my business everyone was an important client. I was a very real part of the story of the conception of the brand that rarely gets told. My inclusion in the brand and its growth spanning over a 25 year period has been minimized at times.