Best Advice from the Babes of Bourbon + Beyond
The BWH team is gearing up for another weekend of traveling, dancing, and exploring the Bourbon and Beyond festival in Louisville, KY. To honor our excitement, we compiled a list of the best advice from all the babes we met at last year’s festival. Read on and grab tickets to the fest while they’re still on sale!
Be strong and lean on other women in the industry; they will be your greatest allies and source of inspiration. Always be willing to work harder and longer than the boys — just make sure you’re being paid for it!
—Alex Thomopoulos, Chef + Comedian
Sometimes, even the things that seem horrible are actually good things — they help you get to where you’re going. I saw back then, in the 80s, 90s and even early 2000s, we weren’t talking to women — not only in the industry, but also consumers. We were only talking to men, because bourbon was viewed as a masculine drink. That inspired me to start Bourbon Women. First off, being a woman helps me be a better master taster because women have better olfactory tasting. It’s anatomically proven. So I personally felt that sometimes I did a better job at articulating my senses versus my male counterparts. That eventually led me to being the first female master bourbon taster in the world. I didn’t know that at the time, though. They sent out a press release about it before even telling me, and it hit 120 newspapers on the AP. I had no idea. Basically, being a woman helped me stand out.
—Peggy Noe Stevens, Founder, Bourbon Women Association
People always feel that women are catty towards each other and we all push each other away—and I know that does happen, sometimes—but, I gotta say, with my friends and the women I’ve worked with, we’re really supportive of each other. We’re not catty, and I think we really have to change that [stigma] of people thinking that. We do have to be great to each other as women, but so many times in a tour situation or festival like this, they’ll think, Oh, we got a woman on the bill—OK, cool, check, we’re done; we’ve got diversity now. For many years, I’ve played at jazz festivals. There aren’t that many women in blues or rock, but go to the jazz world? Even fewer. There are a couple of saxophonists who are women, and they never put us on the same bill—but there will be 17 guys on the same bill. I always think we’ve got to change the way people see diversity. I definitely think we as women—we hold each other up, so that’s not what I see as the problem at all.
—Mindi Abair, Saxophonist, Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers
Work really hard and only compete with yourself; don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, you don’t have to be in the same place as another person. Think about where you need to grow and learn. Put yourself in situations where you have room to grow and push yourself; you might be a little uncomfortable and feel like you’re not ready to take on the challenge, but that’s where you grow the most…. You have to be strong and have stamina for sure—but don’t forget to take care of yourself first.
—Annie Pettry, Executive Chef & Owner, Decca
I think people in the workforce regularly underestimate what I’m capable of because I am a woman—and honestly, I love being underestimated. It’s like a challenge card has been thrown down, and I’m too stubborn to lose. The reality is that I work in a “man’s world” where there aren’t as many women at the top as there should be. The times are changing, though, and so is the ratio. I’m proud to currently work at a company that has a lot of strong women running things.
—Lindsey Medina, Head of Marketing, Danny Wimmer Presents