Turning Rum into Sustainability, Purpose and Leadership
Karen Hoskin of Montanya Rum Gives Us the Highlights of Her 13-year Business Leadership Journey
In This Episode
The B Corp community is full of businesses who are industry leaders while putting the idea of doing business with a purpose at the forefront of their culture. Our guest today Karen Hoskin, is a B Corp leader who, over the last 13 years, has overcome the barrier of a rum distillery not being something people expect to find in the mountains of the USA, the gender bias that comes along with being a woman in a predominantly male-dominated industry and being seen the outlier when pushing to be as sustainable as possible in all aspects of her business and life. Karen shares her story of growing a business, her views on doing business with a purpose and the wonderful feeling when finding her people in the B Corp community. Giving back to the B Corp community and mentoring other female entrepreneurs in the rum industry who are just starting on their journeys are a few different ways that Karen is taking actions that make a massive impact.
Speaking of impact, she may have also inspired Greg to figure out a plan to bootleg some of her company @Montanya Rum rum back to Atlantic Canada in a true Maritimer tradition. Dave Veale was unable to be there for this episode, but he’s already setting aside the bail money.
First 10 Minutes
We are interested in another B Corp entrepreneur doing amazing things, Karen Hoskin. Greg and Karen share their shared love of the mountains and skiing. Karen tells us the story of growing her business, Montanya Distillers and her love of rum. Karen founded the company in 2008 after years of working as a design/marketing professional for other entrepreneurs and wanted to switch careers and keep something for herself. Karen explained how she was inspired by Kim Jordan, a B Corp leader who founded New Belgium Brewing Company. Greg asks Karen about women rocking it in the alcohol craft brewing space traditionally run by men. Greg asks what barriers she had to overcome. Karen mentions how 13 years ago, she would walk into a conference with her and 800 men who wouldn’t take her seriously. She explains that she still deals with gender bias in her work these days. She said beyond just being a woman in the industry when she started, there wasn’t a huge rum industry in the US, especially in the mountain regions. She talks about how much the rum has grown over the last 13 years.
10 Minutes – 20 Minutes
Greg highlights how working through those barriers now makes her a well established and experienced, first-in entrepreneur in the space. Karen shares how she’s been able to mentor others in the space, and it’s been a joy to be able to pass along her knowledge. Karen talks about how she can relate to the stories she hears from other entrepreneurs starting out, and Greg agrees and shares his story about starting Hemmings House. Greg asks Karen about how much storytelling is involved in growing her brand. Karen explains how storytelling is a vital part of her experience, especially how the industry has grown. Karen describes how they did a brand-building exercise in like year three, and he said the vibe he gets is sexy librarian. Karen agreed that it might be right because 13 years ago, the mass market events in her industry from large suppliers were mainly with women serving in revealing outfits. She and her first employee weren’t dressing like that or acting in those roles but owning and leading her company. Greg asks about Karen’s B Corps journey. Karen admits that she was a skeptic when she heard B Corps and becoming a B Corp. She explains how she noticed that her approach to sustainability compared to other businesses was very different. Their approach put them in the top 10% worldwide when they certified as a B Corp. Karen explains how she now tells people about how getting certified is like walking into a room full of people who are your people who are looking at sustainability in the same way.
20 Minutes – 30 Minutes
Karen explains how she felt like she had walked through a wardrobe into B Corp Narnia with so many opportunities. Karen and Greg talk about what the B Corp community brings you and how it can impact their lives. Greg asks how we can get her rum into Atlantic Canada. Karen explains that Canada is a challenge to get into because of regulations. Greg jokes that maybe his next B Corp might be bootlegging her rum into Atlantic Canada.
Founder and Owner, Montanya Distillers
When Karen started Montanya Distillers in 2008, few people knew there was a strong American rum tradition or a mountain tradition. She has helped change that perception, steering the company to double-digit annual growth over more than a decade. Karen is directly involved in every aspect of the company from creating the company’s five rum expressions to operations, safety, sales, and operations at our on-site rum bar/restaurant. Karen continues to inspire the US market to respect and love American Rum, perceive the importance of premium rum and craft cocktails, and understand the high mountain rum tradition. She is a respected speaker and industry leader on all aspects of distilling science, distilling business, mixology, bar and restaurant business, sustainability, and beyond. Learn more at karenhoskin.com.
About Montanya Distillers
Montanya Distillers is a Colorado craft distiller of award-winning rum, founded in 2008. The company moved its headquarters from Silverton, CO to Crested Butte, CO in May 2011. American Craft Distillery of the Year from The American Distilling Institute. Best Aprés Adventure Bar in Outside Magazine World Travel Awards. 18 Gold and Silver Medals for our rums.