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A Nashville black business owner, who worked his way from the ground up, is offering a helping hand

[Aug. 17, 2020: Joseph Shavit]

Guidance Whiskey owner, Jason Ridgel, feels there is a lack of diversity when it comes to the ownership of whiskey companies.

“Why are we not in this space. For as much as we consume, why are we not represented as suppliers in that industry? So, I decided to give it a try,” Ridgel said.

The Tennessee State University alum launched Guidance Whiskey in 2018 and is one of a handful of black-owned whiskey brands headquartered in Tennessee.

Starting his own spirit line wasn’t easy, even with guidance from a friend. “It took a while to find a distillery that would actually work with us and let us design the taste profile that we wanted,” Ridgel said. “So that path to entry, that roadblock to entry, I wanted to lower it for everyone coming behind us.”

“We’ve been getting overwhelming emails and calls and businesses, people that want to start their own brand,” Ridgel said. “I’m like look, we are here to help. So now that has become a mantra. It’s almost become like my life’s work and I wasn’t even expecting it.”

“Local distro is one of the first places we were able to do tasting for our brand,” Ridgel said. “Being able to support them, they support us its being full circle.”

Ridgel really wants to finish this year helping about 7 other brands launch including a special whiskey tea in partnership with another local business.


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What can we learn?

There is a saying in business that "the rising tide floats all boats". By finding ways to help others, businesses are finding that the market and awareness of their own products and services are expanded. For example, Apple's app store is primarily the success and financial engine it is because of the quality and success of the apps it provides distribution for. Business is a symbiotic relationship between suppliers, retailers, producers, manufacturers and consumers.



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