NEW YORK, NY (July 15, 2021) – AVEC, a line of better-for-you cocktail mixers founded by WOC Denetrias ‘Dee’ Charlemagne and UK native Alex Doman, has been named a finalist in Pharrell William’s Black Ambition program. Recognized by Fast Company as the winner of the 2021 World Changing Idea for impact investing, Black Ambition provides mentorship and access to capital for high-growth startups founded by Black and Latinx entrepreneurs.
As a recipient of one of the top three awards (which ranged from $100,000 to $1 million), AVEC is honored to be recognized by the organization in its inaugural year, which Pharrell Williams founded to focus on closing the opportunity and wealth gap through entrepreneurship. The goal is to improve the concerning current statistics, which show that only about 3% of VC-backed companies are Black or Latinx founded. The financial award is complemented by ongoing mentorships.
“As a native New Yorker and woman of color, I am honored at the recognition from Black Ambition. With founders of diverse backgrounds, customers with a wide range of viewpoints, and flavors from the world, diversity is central to what we do at AVEC. Closing the wealth gap is what inspired me to become a founder and we hope to make this community proud,” says Charlemagne.
Having just celebrated its first birthday since launching mid-pandemic in June 2020, AVEC has:
- sold over 100k cans with 4x sell out
- Expanded distribution beyond the greater NYC area to across the east coast, and continued growing its DTC online business nationally
- Been featured in Food & Wine, The New York Times, Gear Patrol, BestProducts, VinePair podcast and more
- Hosted a series of virtual & in-person events with pioneers like Fawn Weaver of Uncle Nearest--the first African American woman to found & run a major spirits company--that explore topics like the persistent gender & cultural biases in the spirits industry, and how AVEC stands for a new way to mix cocktails as well as in a social capacity
- Charlemagne has also been named a:
- SoGal grantee - an organization on a mission to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship and investing globally
- Digital Undivided Fellow - an organization leading the global shift toward inclusive innovation & entrepreneurship
Notes Charlemagne, “At AVEC, not only are we out to improve a world of bland vodka sodas and sugar-packed whiskey gingers, we’re on a deeper mission to create a brand that is part of culture. For one, we’ve committed to working with diverse creatives and operators, and 90% of our team have been women, POC and/or LGBTQ+ to broaden perspectives and improve outcomes. As Pharrell noted, this opportunity gives brands like ours a chance to be ‘part of the American pie chart’ in the systemically challenged entrepreneurial landscape.”
AVEC is joined by Dosso Beauty and Livegistics as one of three Black Ambition Prize finalists. Winners were celebrated at a virtual event on July 13th that featured remarks from Pharrell, a special performance by Tobe Nwigwe and founder stories.