From the Editor / Women in Business

Meet Woman in Business Vanessa Braxton, CEO of Black Momma Vodka

"Vanessa Braxton PresidentCEO Black Momma Vodka"Meet Vanessa Braxton President/CEO Black Momma Vodka – This Woman Means Business!

Tell us about your business.

I’m the president and CEO of the brand Black Momma Vodka. It’s a handcrafted, gluten-free vodka, distilled 5 times and filtered 5 times from corn. I target woman – independent, professional, woman about empowerment – cause that is who I am. I’m black , I’m a mother and it’s my vodka!

Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?

Being a business owner to me means freedom, independence, joyfulness and strength. I’m enjoying what I do and like to challenge myself as well as provide resources and outlets to other small business owners. I love to do what people think is impossible.

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why? 

My greatest influences were my mom, dad and grandparents – both were business owners. My grandmother owned real estate and a bakery. My grandfather was an architect and builder in South America for 38 years.  They taught me at a very young age to believe that I can do anything no matter my gender or race. In addition, it doesn’t matter how crazy of a product or idea it is – there’s always a buyer and a market. So never allow opportunities to leave your grasp.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

Starting this alcohol company is my greatest accomplishment to date, although I studied Construction Management/Civil Engineering and had a 20 year professional career in the field within the government sector. It has led me to this journey of creating a successful brand and business. It was my years of experience of working in government and sitting on non-profit boards which have given me the love of doing something extraordinary. Considering I’m the first African-American woman with a nationally distributed vodka in 32 States. I’m embarking on a territory only known to man – now a woman is barking up that tree!

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

The best advice I received was to listen to my inner spirit. If your gut is telling you to do it, then do it. Believe me, everything will fall into place if it’s right and mean’t to be.

What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?

Tastings and social media – it’s a new generation and platform. Social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, phone apps and YouTube made an impact with Black Momma Vodka. Tastings at specific events and co-branding with other brands that mix well with Black Momma Vodka. For example, Rumchatta and Black Momma Chai Tea Vodka make a great cocktail created by Mixologist and Barchix owner Trina Braxton, from Braxton Family Values on WE-TV, and it’s called Apple Jaq’s (she is my cousin).

What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?

Never procrastinate, act while you have the opportunity. I try to accomplish what I can within that moment and don’t allow things to linger. It prepares me for an opportunity or if there’s a setback I can always think quickly on my next move without second guessing.

Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business? If yes, please describe (and include links if available).

Yes, most businesses don’t ever think about doing business with the government. The government will always have a need for services and products. They support small, minority, women and veteran-owned businesses. The best place to start is to register your business with SAMS.gov. This will help you get registered with Federal Government Contracts.

Also check out OSDBU.gov. This gives a list of federal agencies and their small business specialist for any business.

The government was Black Momma Vodka’s first client. I started in the control states like Virginia. The state of Virginia is the largest supporter of small, women and veteran-owned businesses and federal government. U.S. Embassies in different markets. The embassies purchase from U.S. small businesses in order to give exposure to American brands and businesses. Always start with the government first – they will always give you a chance if no one else will. SBA.gov provides great resources for small businesses.

Do you have any new projects coming up?

Yes, I’m in the process of designing and building my own distillery in Long Island, NY. I’m a retired Civil/Structural Engineer/Construction Manager who has overseen 350 million in government contracts for 20 years. I am designing and building a $1.8 million state-of-the-art distillery with a tasting room to attract tourists…hopefully it will be a piece of cake!

What do you do for fun/relaxation?

For fun and relaxation I enjoy boating, playing golf, spending time with my family, mixing drinks and having parties!

What is the Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?

My number one business goal is to hire more sales people and complete my rollout into thirty two States. Right now I’m licensed and carried in 19 states and Hong Kong. I’ve written a book on diversifying your business (the 4 quadrants to sustainable cash flow in any economy). It’s the steps for sustaining cash flow for any small business of which I’ve created a formula for. I am hoping to release it at the end of the year after the edits are complete.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Drink responsibly when enjoying Black Momma Vodka. It’s all natural, gluten free, and has no preservatives. You can request it at your local restaurants and package stores.

What’s the best way for our readers to connect with you?

The best way to connect with us is to check out these websites:

www.blackmommavodka.com

https://www.facebook.com/BlackMommaVodka

https://twitter.com/BlackMommaVodka

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