NEW YORK (PIX11) — Before creating Tipsy Lady cocktails, New York City native Toni Gilliard worked as an immigration attorney for 17 years.
“In Barbados when I had gone in 2019 for the holidays, I was walking on the beach and I was like I need to do something else,” Gilliard said. “The second day in Barbados I went to the rum factory … and it was as transparent to me as if someone walked up to me and said this is what you are supposed to be doing.”
Gilliard wanted to start a business that was legacy driven and that honored her Caribbean heritage, which is perfect considering rum was first created in Barbados in 1650. She now markets three different flavors of canned cocktails in 38 markets online and on the ground in South Carolina.
“It’s manufactured in Saratoga Springs, New York, and it’s selling online, shipping direct to consumers in 38+ markets. When I started it, alcohol being in the mail was not a thing until COVID happened.”
Gilliard was raised in New York City in public housing. As a woman of color, her decision to call her company “Tipsy Lady” was not just about the alcohol content.
“All of the products that I am making are 12% ABV, so tipsy. But it’s about tipping the scales in the alcohol industry as it relates to women of color and ownership,” Gilliard said.
It’s not just the name of the company that is significant. Gilliard made sure to build an initiative that is all about giving back.
“The goal for me is to give back to other small businesses and youth entrepreneur programs that support entrepreneurship endeavors,” Gilliard said.
A portion of all Tipsy Lady proceeds go toward supporting youth with entrepreneurship initiatives.