Taylor Foxman is the Founder and CEO of The Industry Collective, a leading Beverage Alcohol Consulting Firm, and the Vice President of Communications and Media at Parallel, one of the largest privately-held cannabis companies in the United States. She has experience working with Pernod Ricard — she helped launch their Jameson Black Barrel — and 70 global-wide spirit brands.
Taylor graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication, Public Relations, and Art History. She is an official member of the Rolling Stone Culture Council and a board member of Vin Social.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Taylor Foxman shares how the community-driven alcohol industry drew her in
- The three-tiered distribution system — and how Taylor scaled her work
- What resources are available for a small entrepreneur to build their brand?
- How Taylor’s fluid model guides brands to grow and scale
- Where do you find true authenticity for your brand?
- The reason Taylor took the leap to cannabis, and the crossover between alcohol and cannabis
- Why exploration and education can lead a brand forward to success
- What is on the horizon for Taylor, and who she admires in the industry
In this episode with Taylor Foxman
Allocation of time and money is often overlooked — but crucial — for a craft brand. Luckily, by using strategic marketing tools, you can engage and create budget-friendly storytelling communications to be a leader in the industry.
Taylor Foxman knows how to effectively build a brand without costing you too much — but still providing you with an added benefit. She is a pioneer in combining the cannabis and alcohol industries. Taylor understands the mindset of an entrepreneur and is taking the horse by the reins to build and scale businesses by portraying the authenticity of your brand.
In the episode of Legends Behind the Craft, Drew Thomas Hendricks has a conversation with Taylor Foxman, Founder and CEO of The Industry Collective, a leading Beverage Alcohol Consulting Firm, and the Vice President of Communications and Media at Parallel. Together they discuss the collaboration between the alcohol and cannabis industry, the resources a small brand needs to grow, and the uniqueness of marketing cannabis. Stay tuned!
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Barrels Ahead
- Drew Thomas Hendricks on LinkedIn
- Taylor Foxman on LinkedIn
- Taylor Foxman on Instagram
- The Industry Collective
- Ashton Barry on LinkedIn
- Pernod Ricard
- Lagunitas Brewing Company
- Constellation Brands
- Bob Paulinski, MW on Legends Behind the Craft
- Paul Salcedo on Legends Behind the Craft
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.
Barrels Ahead is a wine and craft marketing agency that propels organic growth by using a powerful combination of content development, Search Engine Optimization, and paid search.
At Barrels Ahead, we know that your business is unique. That’s why we work with you to create a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy that highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and makes your business stand out from your competitors.
Our team at Barrels Ahead helps you leverage your knowledge so you can enjoy the results and revenue your business deserves.
So, what are you waiting for? Unlock your results today!
To learn more, visit barrelsahead.com or email us at email@example.com to schedule a strategy call.
Welcome to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where we feature top leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry, with your host to Drew Thomas Hendricks. Now let’s get started with the show.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 0:20
Drew Thomas Hendricks here. I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry, from technologists like Paul Salcedo, whose innovations allow wine brands to go beyond what is written on the wine label. Today’s guest Taylor Foxman, who leads one of the United States largest beverage Think Tank consulting firms. Today’s episode is sponsored by Barrels Ahead and Barrels Ahead we work with you to implement a one of a kind marketing strategy. One that highlights your authenticity, tells your story and connects you with your ideal customers. In short, if you’re a business looking to retain a winery or craft beverage producers a client Barrels Ahead we’ll figure out a plan to make it happen. Good a barrelsahead.com today to learn more. Now before I introduce today’s guests, I want to give a big thank you to last week’s guest, Master of Wine Bob Paulinski. on last week’s show, Bob shared his journey from wine store owner to passing one of the toughest tests in any field to his current role is brand consultant. Check out that episode Bob gives some great insights on the importance of creating an emotional connection with the consumer. I’m super excited to talk with Taylor Foxman. Taylor is in a very unique position of being at the intersection between two of the fastest growing industries, craft beverages and cannabis. Taylor’s the founder and CEO of The Industry Collective, a leading beverage Think Tank consulting firm that helps to grow and scale some of the fastest growing beverage alcohol companies in the US. And she’s also the Vice President of communication for Parallel, which is one of the largest vertically integrated multi state cannabis operators states. Welcome to the show. Taylor.
Taylor Foxman 1:56
Thanks so much for having me.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 1:58
Oh, thank you so much for being on. Definitely want to dive into the Industry Collective and Parallel and all your insights there but starting out how did you get started in the alcohol industry?
Taylor Foxman 2:08
Yes, so I am tell people I started in this space before I was technically legally able to drink in the industry. So I I interned through college for Svedka Vodka, and worked for a PR agency in Boston while at Boston University and didn’t even realize that I could have a client that was in the alcohol space. So I ended up working for Svedka and got paid in flavored liquor bottles, which made me pretty popular when I was in my sorority years in my life. And then from there, just really enjoyed doing that work. After graduating from college, I actually got into University of Southern California School Annenberg School of Communication. So I thought I wanted to get a master’s in communications, primarily because I knew I didn’t want to always be on the PR side of things. I know how exhausting it is. So I thought I could get a master’s degree and then teach at a college level down the road. So picked out my classes, found my roommate got the Trojan sweatshirt, because nothing’s official until you have fat or have this sweatshirt from the school and got a call actually from a company, an agency that represented Pernod Ricard and I was at 21 given the opportunity to help launch Jameson Black Barrel and work across Pernod Ricard, whole brown spirit portfolio, so Jameson, Redbreast, Powers, Patti, Chivas, Regal, and then it kind of went from there. And I didn’t look back and I still to date think it was the right decision because over the course of the last 12 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to professionally worked for about 70 Global wide beard spirit brands. Right? Yeah, ranging from Jaeger Meister, to Boston beer company to edrington, Americas to greubel Campari. And then most recently, I was head of corporate communications for Pernod Ricard in house before transitioning over to cannabis. So I kind of stuck in my lane. And I think we could talk about it or maybe not, but I think there is some strategy to knowing what you like and knowing what you’re good at. And really honing in on that and really becoming someone that people know in the space and turn to as a resource. So
Drew Thomas Hendricks 4:35
I really love that stay in your lane. Focus on something you really like. What What is it that you like about the industry? What excites you?
Taylor Foxman 4:44
Everything? I mean, the community I think the people in this industry are, you know, unlike no other I think that there is this real true sense of community that I don’t see in many other industries. I think it stems across wider how hospitality. To be honest, I don’t think it’s just specifically and beverage alcohol. I think the wider hospitality industry, to me is just so deep rooted. And you saw over the last year and a half, how their people are for one another. And I think that’s a big facet of it. And I just think the continual evolution of the business, we will talk about it in a little bit. But, you know, there’s just there’s so much change happening all the time, whether it’s from, you know, an r&d and innovation perspective, to the way in which you know, alcohol, wine or beer is distributed, to who’s leading this space. There’s just so much happening all the time that it really never gets old. And the other facet of it too, is just, you’re always going to have an audience. Because Because, you know, drinking, in moderation, I always have to put on my desk is sad, but, you know, drinking, drinking in moderation makes people happy. It brings people together. It’s a convivial moment in time. And that part of it too, when I sit down and have a glass of wine, or I’m sitting outside under the stars and drinking whiskey, there’s not much that makes me happier than that.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 6:09
I completely agree. I love I love that you brought up that sense of community. And we thought we thought so much over the last year with everybody’s banding together. And just sharing and I that’s what drew me into the wine industry like Pete winemakers share, they share their ideas, they share their thoughts. They want to just see that they just want to see great wine being made or great beverages being made. And you don’t you don’t see that in a lot of other industries. It’s everything keeps a very close to the vest. And Yep, what a lot of secrets but you don’t see that and that it actually comes out in the product, as you say like the conviviality in that community. That alcohol brings in in moderation.
Taylor Foxman 6:46
In moderation. Yeah, no, I 100% agree. I think that that is a big that is a big facet of this space. And I think it does differentiate our industry from from many others.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 6:57
Yeah, so that brings into the collective. So where did the idea of this Industry Collective come about?
Taylor Foxman 7:03
So the idea came about at a time that was not quite opportune, which like, you know, like everyone else, when when is anything ever convenient? Right? So I started the business last year, during COVID. A, I have a full time job. So my is I still have a full time job in cannabis. So I had a full time job in cannabis, which is an industry which we’ll get into that’s extremely nascent, and very volatile. And, you know, there’s just so many moving parts all at the same time. So that’s one. My mom is fortunately, free of cancer now, but was diagnosed with cancer, right when COVID started, and my husband was supposed to move to the United States after we’ve been doing long distance for four years and got the green card, and then the world virtually ended. So the same week, that Time Square shut down that COVID really ramped up in the US was when my husband got his green card, and he needed to stay there longer, because he couldn’t really come here. And my mom was sick. He was in Germany, so super close to Manhattan. Yeah. We had done. We Yes, we did to it. We did a little under two years long distance New York City to Ithaca, which he got his MBA from Cornell. And that’s when we met. And for anyone who’s like, well, isn’t it the cut in the state of New York, where you are? Correct. Most people in New York don’t have cars, and I don’t anymore, and it is six hours, one foot, whatever, five, six hours to get to Africa. So it’s a whole different world than man here it is long distance through and through, and then the the abbreviated story there, and I’ll get back to how the collective is started. But the previous story was that he there he was offered a role. And then the role, unfortunately, was no longer and then he moved back to Europe for a few years. And so we, we did long distance while being a married couple, for year and a half, almost two years. So anyway.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 9:09
How do you maintain a long term relationship? overseas?
Taylor Foxman 9:14
Yeah, right. Trust. And, you know, that’s really it. I mean, there was nothing else I never did video time, people always asked if I facetimed him every day. I’m like, he knows what I look like. I don’t, I don’t need to FaceTime him. No, I mean, that part of things is very interesting. Because, you know, if you build a relationship from the beginning, where you’re not together, and you don’t have the same resources and access that couples have or they need, they live in the same city, they move in together, they get an apartment, they get married, get a house, buy dog, our life was our life was postponed a bit. You know, we had to live in this holding pattern for a few years and it was hard. But the nice thing is, is that now we’re four years into being together almost five and you You know, the things that people sometimes take for granted, like waking up together in the same city or having breakfast together or getting a joint bank account, all of these things we’re just starting to do as a married couple, many years into being together. So we kind of feel fortunate that now we get to start a life, we’ve already had so many great memories together over the years. So it’s, it’s an interesting kind of moment in time.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 10:23
That’s what a great story, I have a friend that, um, he just got married and his wife moved to Sweden, and he was supposed to move to Sweden, right wing COVID hit, and it took him. He’s finally with his, his wife was pregnant when she moved, finally got to meet his new new child, and he’s now in Sweden happy but very similar type of story in dealing with his challenges over the last year. Anyhow, I digress. So how
Taylor Foxman 10:49
did you hear now? That’s great to hear. Oh, great to hear. Yeah, no, um, don’t worry, my story, can my story can always wait for good stories like that. No, no. That’s great. No, that’s a lovely, that’s great. I’m glad to hear they’re together. And that’s you, those are the types of feel good things through that. Oh, yeah. And make us make that make the world go round. Um, so yeah, because The Collective. I mentioned all that in the context of how the company was started. But I had seen over the last, like 1011 years working for, as I mentioned, all of these brands, on the big supplier side, that there were, there were some kind of notable voids that were missing and resources are missing that I thought maybe we could help fill on the on the big supplier side, as well as the big distributor side, how it works is you have all of these big suppliers that whether it’s a, let’s say, a diazo, or constellation or printer card, that distributed their products through traditional distribution routes, and in our industry, a lot of it goes through the three tiered distribution system. So meaning that you as a bob’s bourbon and Burlington, Vermont, up until now really didn’t have the ability to sell directly to your consumer, your own consumer, you have to go through a distributor. And where I saw problems that kind of across the board, was just the fact that you have so many people coming into this space across wine, beer and spirits, that first and foremost, don’t come from the sector. Most of them are entrepreneurs that found their way into this space versus people like myself, and like you that are very, very ingrained in the industry that have good understanding of not only the terminology, the nuances, but just general ways of working as to how to make brands how to sell brands, how to get brands to market. And there is a huge runway for resources for these companies that are not under the larger suppliers that don’t necessarily have access to some of the bigger distributors. And I found this sweet spot where I realized that a lot of these companies came in with an idea. And how do you go from having an idea around starting a bourbon starting whiskey wanting to do a mezcal, to even getting it to shelves is one. And then sometimes it would already, you have companies that are already out there. And maybe they’ve been in business for a few years, maybe for just a year or two, but really don’t know necessarily where to go from there. And that was kind of the genesis of the company is you have this huge runway of independent companies that don’t have these resources. And that was the genesis of the concept was to create the collective, which is comprised of, you know, third party experts that can help these craft brands grow and scale to a degree that I don’t think would be available to most independent, you know, independent suppliers. And so that was the initial idea was to create a cost effective, you know, way to help advise these brands grow and scale, and it’s really gone from there.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 14:06
That’s what a fantastic resource. How did you how did you go about building this like group of, you know, the best of the best, the help the help the small, small entrepreneurs that just got the idea in their head, I’m gonna make a whiskey.
Taylor Foxman 14:20
We’ve been we’ve been very fortunate so far across the board. The experts are primarily people that all of them are independent. So all of them have their own autonomous lifestyle. They all work, you know, for themselves for the most part. So the goal was to bring in, you know, expert contractors, primarily that can help with the business and plug and play the right experts based on the needs of these businesses. So you’re kind of taking a little bit of a gamble, right? Where I brought in all these experts without necessarily knowing exactly what is needed. So you know, over time i’ve i’ve refined the model a little bit which we can get into based on just what People are in need versus what I thought they would want. And so the development of the expert side do we have about 40 experts all over the world. And the experts kind of came to be through people in my network that I’ve respected and admired. So this ranges from, you know, small as brew masters writers, copywriters, producers, trade advocates, sustainability experts, these are all people that I’ve had in my community, we talked about community for for since I was 21. And I thought, Wow, there was no one really connecting the dots between all of these experts, and these brands. And there still isn’t until now. So now there’s a resource for these brands to now work directly with these experts. in kind of a manner, I guess you could say, of like a talent agency on that front, right. So they’re, they’re there they work, and then they get brought on usually for projects, and stuff like that. On on the brand side. And in terms of the clients, we’ve, we’ve been very lucky with this, because so far, we have not really proactively done any new business pitching at all. And the business that has come in officially since we started in September of last year has been through recommendations has been through referrals, we have not really gone after any business. And I think that speaks very highly to the fact that there’s a need for this, right? There’s a need for this support. And that’s why we’ve been fortunate enough to just open up shop without having to really do, we haven’t done any marketing, any public relations, any advertising and through word of mouth, you know, people are understanding what we do and have come to us to help them. So we were grateful for that.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 16:52
That’s phenomenal. I mean, that you’ve just hit on a huge unmet need. What do you see some of the common challenges that all these people are coming to you face other than not having the resources,
Taylor Foxman 17:02
really just kind of better allocation of their time and their money, when you’re when you’re a craft brand? Every dollar matters? And I think that’s sometimes overlooked with big vendors. To be honest, I think big vendors look at independent companies, entrepreneurs, like they would a big brand. And I think it’s a totally different market. Well, the traditional ways of working like, you know, a big agency, you can insert any type of agency really a lot of where they make their money, and I’m not knocking agencies, I come from the agency side, and I still drink the Kool Aid. But a lot of the traditional, you know, a lot of where the money comes from on the agency side is through a bill, hourly billing, right. So let’s say you’re working on a project, and let’s say I have a scope of work that says I’m going to, I’m going to pay, you know, Bob’s whatever social media company, you know, a $2,000 a month to help me with developing social media plan, where a lot of companies make their money’s actually through time outside of that billable amount per month. So they have like $2,000, which is how much they’re technically charging me. But then there’s a lot of overtime, then there’s time that they spend on phone calls, and then maybe there’s out of pocket expenses, like they go to the printer, they need to go use an Uber. So those things add up pretty quick, pretty quickly. And you’re in a position where it started at $2,000, which is in your budget as an entrepreneur, you’re getting billed for $8,000. And just trying to understand the mind frame of an entrepreneur is I think, a very different way of looking at things, which is, how can I help you, but do it in a way that is not going to cost you too much, but still provide you with added benefit. And that’s really I think is a big facet of that with the big difference in my mind is a lot of these independent people are more strategic in terms of who they’re looking to target, with advertising, with social media with influencer relations with sampling with partnerships. They just don’t have the resources to do the mass kind of mass sampling and mass marketing, I guess, right that that big companies have. So I think those are the two biggest things is one is that they’re more strategic with how they engage and communicate with their target audiences because they have, they just have to be more strategic with it. And two is I think, the more than mindfulness of their spends.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 19:33
Yeah. And they also don’t want to just, they would just fall subject to a plug and play approach. Like this is their alcohol social media plan, jump into it. They need more of a custom approach.
Taylor Foxman 19:44
They need a custom approach. And I think it just really hasn’t worked well because there’s another facet of it that I can explain to you that I do that may be helpful to your listeners as well if they’re on the entrepreneurial side, but I keep all contracts on a rolling basis. And I do that, because I feel having started a business as an entrepreneur working with entrepreneurs during a global pandemic, how can I not blame them? That’s very interesting. Right? So how does that say, let’s say a typical contract. So would be, let’s go back to the social media example, in in traditional days, and with traditional types of companies, we would have to sign on a dotted line for a certain amount of time, whereas you would pay me, I would pay you if you’re my social media agency of record, typically, at least for six months, that would be a minimum to a year, a year is pretty much the I’ve, you know, I’ve worked with vendors on the professional side for like the last decade, I don’t see many vendors that will let me you know, sign a contract that’s less than a year. So I didn’t want to go that approach for a few reasons. How we work is we become integrated into these businesses, I have email addresses, all the companies I work with, I’m part of happy virtual happy hours. Oh, good. I
Drew Thomas Hendricks 21:11
mean, I manage other email addresses. But that’s another story.
Taylor Foxman 21:16
I answer is I do and I don’t write. So I, the whole goal is to really become an extension of these companies. And as we said, help grow and scale them. And that’s really to become an anti vendor record. Virtually, I am not a vendor, in their eyes, I am a facet of their business. And the collective is there to help on a rolling kind of continual basis, grow their business. And by by default, that means that I really don’t want to put myself in a position where I sign on the dotted line for a year to only help and advise on one particular type of service or project. And I also feel during COVID times, and working with entrepreneurs, things change every day, for these people every day, they’re going to have to pivot in terms of where they’re prioritizing their time and their money. So we like to be an organic kind of extension of these businesses, but understanding of their need to have to reprioritize all the time. So it doesn’t mean that every week someone’s gonna come back to me saying Taylor can’t pay you. That’s not how it works. But what it means is that for the business that I have, for example, half of the clients, we only started this business September this past year, we have 13 brands on board as of today that we work with. And I have four employees, we have people all over the world. You know, why I also didn’t want to kind of shackle myself to that notion of like, here’s a year long contract, and here’s exactly what we’re going to do is because half a year into a lot of these business, you know, partnerships, we’ve already expanded our work with most of these clients to say, hey, you’ve been advising us on this for the past six months, could we sit down and actually talk about it, because we’d love your help with this type of work as well. And that is the whole model. And that was what I intended to do. And that’s what we’re already doing. So it’s just, it’s a different way of working. And it’s not for everyone, I will say that if you have full time employees, that model is a bit difficult, I’ll be very transparent, because you are responsible for continually paying for these people and their livelihood and their benefits. So to do things where month to month, things may stay on board, things may not that may not work for you. My model is very fluid. I have people that work all over. They all have other projects they’re working on. They’re not solely necessarily dependent on this. So it works for us. But it may not work for every type of company.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 23:50
And that’s a great, that’s a great entrepreneurial model. And I really like what you said there understand the mindset of an entrepreneur, that may be the biggest distinction. And I love that phrase, I wrote it down, and then the anti, the anti vendor of record. That’s a great one. What advice from the craft alcohol? You were talking? We talked at the pre show a little bit about authenticity. In what what what advice could you give us a startup or an alcohol startup to really portray the authenticity behind their brand?
Taylor Foxman 24:20
Sure. So I have a pretty simple matrix. My, my mantra for everything is kind of this like I do this like cross like doing like a tea tea in my hands as I’m talking to you. But it’s the so what and the why now. And I truthfully think that if you get rid of everything else, why should people care about what you’re talking about? And why should people care about your brand. And I think if you keep going back to the so what think about everything that we’re talking about, let’s say it’s you’re launching a new whiskey. Well, we’re going to launch this whiskey because this is the best liquid in the whole wide world, and it’s made from the best master Cooper in the world. And it’s the Let’s keep going, you know, this whole thing could go on for 100 hours, maybe the finest water and the best River. Okay, that’s all. That’s all super well, good. That’s fabulous. But, but why should Why should a bartender washed? bartender care about that? Okay, well, then you think about it from his lens? Well, let me let me think about it. Okay. Okay, so so consumer, so that’s great that you guys have the finest liquid mate, you know, in the world. And that’s how you’re making your whiskey. But there’s a lot of whiskies out there that come from very fine water, fine rivers, fine barrels, fine Oaks. So why yours, if you keep if you keep digging, you’re going to get to something. And when you get to something, that’s that’s where you find the true authenticity in my mind, because there’s two things is one, it’s not going to be it may not be the same. Like, you know, finding that authenticity for your brand. The strategy may differ depending on who you’re looking to talk to. But that authenticity element of it is getting down to the core of like, why your brand really matters to these people. And I think that’s something that a lot of people don’t necessarily take time to do.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 26:14
They don’t and that’s such a great point. Such a great point in the wine industry. Always every winery starts with a story small family owned winery. Really not we we try to do is we try to help figure out how your story intersects with your consumers story. Because you have to build on the story that they want to have unfold for themselves. Similar to the you know, so what why now? What Why, why this whiskey at this place in this time?
Taylor Foxman 26:39
I think absolutely. And I think if you keep even if you keep going further, well, I want to sell this wine to a to a bartender, because it’s it’s a really, really good bottle of wine, I know that he’s gonna sell a lot, keep going. Okay, so he’s gonna sell a lot. So keep going. So what’s in it for that particular? Well, is he going to make more money from? Okay, okay, now we’re getting some you know what I’m saying? Like, it takes so many layers to get there. But
Drew Thomas Hendricks 27:04
his story unfolds with selling more wine, making more money making his customers happy. It just flies off the shelf.
Taylor Foxman 27:11
And I think I think there’s also an interesting case study that I’m actually getting started on a project where, and I’ll mention why Alex claim, I think it’s, it’s relevant because they came to me and they said, hey, look, we know what you do, we actually want you to develop our product, from inception to execution, we have nothing, we don’t have liquid, we don’t have a bottling plant, we don’t have packaging, we don’t have pricing, what an opportunity. It is. And it’s even more interesting, because they’re fortunate enough to be a media conglomerate that has a following across their channels. They probably like the Gen Z kind of demographic. So like under under the age of 30. of, I don’t know, probably somewhere between five to 10 million people engaging with them already. And they’re now looking to kind of expand on that Empire. Right of, of, you know, we have this engaged audience. And now we want to hop on the train of developing alcohol to kind of complement what we already offer this group of people. And I’ve done many talks around my thoughts around audience back communication and strategy, which is very simply put, we all spin our wheels and spend so much time creating decks and programs and strategies, and, and theories. Just ask people just literally ask people to talk to your stakeholders, ask them what they want, ask them who they’re looking, like, what they’re looking for. Who’s doing it right, who’s not doing it, right. What are we doing? Well, what are we doing shitty? Just ask people. And I think there’s this huge hesitancy to get that feedback. But so my thought around all of this with this product, because they’re starting from square one, and they’re like, how do we create a brand? And then how do we create a brand that’s authentic to us? Well, our strategy is going to be we’re launching, we’re starting this whole project now is to crowdsource it. We’re gonna start from the beginning, and literally just crowdsource this alcohol, because they’re in such a unique position where why would they just start to develop something themselves in a silo, when they have a huge audience of people, like you said, that have a lot of thoughts around what they want to drink, how much they’re willing to spend, what are the occasions at which they’re drinking? What are they drinking right now? So why start from square one, and that’s the most authentic way to build a brand in my mind in this space is to leverage if you have an audience, get their feedback like brewdog has done this. There’s been other companies that have crowdsource things. I just don’t understand why more companies won’t tap into that pre existing, you know, network of, of customers, potential customers to create an even more rich authenticity. Why So what they’re doing,
Drew Thomas Hendricks 30:02
that’s great rather than building and they will come figure out what people want to be built. Yeah, that’s fantastic. So how does that translate to the work you’re doing over a Parallel, and maybe talk a little bit about that, which is amazing.
Taylor Foxman 30:18
Definitely not crowdsourcing cannabis. That is for sure. So I, I’ll give you a little bit background, how I got into the cannabis space, maybe just to give some context, if that works. And then I can go into a little bit more about the company. So I, I worked as one of the companies I worked for over the past 1011 years, I worked for someone who was the CMO at the time of Petrone. And he’s still a mentor and friend of mine, and we just hit it off, and we’ve become very close acquaintances. And I look up to him. And now he is the CMO of a private charter plane company called wheels up. But at the time, he he had, you know, taken on a leadership role within Parallel, which is the company I work for. And he Bo Wrigley, Wrigley Gum is the chairman and CEO. So of the Wrigley Gum air. They he so that was he is still currently the chairman and CEO. But anyway, so that’s when we came in. Lee is the person I was referring to. And it was an opportunity to kind of get in at a really interesting point in the cannabis space. And so I was at Pernod Ricard at the time. And he had reached out and asked if I would be interested in taking on a role as Vice President of PR communications for this company parallel, which is was at the time and still is one of the fastest growing privately owned cannabis companies in the US. And so it’s a multi state operator, as you had said at the front of the call. And I, I thought it was really interesting opportunity for me to really stretch myself, I know, we’re gonna get into the differences and similarities and differences between the spaces. But I did go into it thinking there would be a lot more similarities than then I’ve realized, however, my thought was, let me take a leap, and you never really get further in life without getting out of your comfort zone. And let me try something entirely new. And see what happens and see if I can implement and take some of the skills that I’ve learned in the alcohol communication sector and to transfer them over to cannabis. And on a personal level. I it’s on my it’s like I have it out there I have it on my Instagram. So it’s it’s technically out there in the world. So I don’t feel fine talking about it. But I had been prescribed since I was younger, you know, medication for anxiety, like 99 I’m kidding. But you know, a good majority of the country has been on and over the years, they just really did not like being on that medicine. I felt like a vegetable. I felt just very off taking a lot of that prescribed medications over the years. So I stopped taking it. And cannabis for me was interesting because I was in Northern California A few years ago, a friend of mine was living there. And he went to a dispensary and he said, Do you need anything? I said no. And the woman kind of started pitching me who worked at the dispensary and said, Well, what do you like to eat and drink? After like, you know, she’s like a salesman. And I said, I was kind of Right. Right, but right exactly some shoes that we call them like guides, I think at our you know, for parallel but you know, like a guide at a dispensary. And she said, you know, she kept kind of pitching me on things. And I kind of wanted to just have her self talk to me. I said well I like mitts like I love mint. Mint calms me down. I love mint. And she said, Well, you should try these mints. They’re have THC and CBD. And they changed my life. I I think there’s also this very addictive element of prescription medication, I also think that it really knocks you out. I just don’t like anything about it, to be honest, for most of it. And what I liked about cannabis, is that it wasn’t addictive, and I didn’t need to take it. But it was an option for me if I got anxious, you know, if I got anxious, I had an option. And having the option if you if you are anyone who’s listening in it has any type of anxiety, just knowing you have something so important. It’s so important, you don’t usually need it. But just knowing it’s there is really is really the primary factor. So I I kind of just you know, really had this 110 of minutes until I started this job. And that was on a personal level. A reason why I thought it would be interesting, both personally professionally now you got to get the whole picture as to why I was willing to take that. take that leap. Sure.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 34:48
Yeah. And now the minutes you’re talking about I definitely am a big fan and have done the prescription meds for anxiety myself and big proponent of Kim cannabis. For that, so as far as parallel, so you’re saying you entered here with the with the, with the assumption that there be a lot of transferable you know, marketing skills are transferable things between the two industries. What do you what did you find out once you jumped into the role?
Taylor Foxman 35:15
I think it’s like being in the wild wild west. You know, in some ways I think if you think about pre prohibition days in, in alcohol, virtually, I mean, things are changing so fast, I would say first and foremost, things change so fast, we’re an alcohol, you know, how long things take to change, you know, rules and regulations, what is just the speed as to which the industry is changing, I find it you have to be in the mind frame of wanting to work in an industry that moves as fast as cannabis, day by day things are changing. So that’s one is the speed two is on, you know, from a marketing communications side of things, you know, there are, you know, regulatory things that you need to keep in mind, you can’t just do everything, there are a lot of things you have to run by the Department of Health, and so on and so forth. So it’s, you know, you have to really, really work closely with compliance with legal with General Counsel, with everything that you’re pushing out externally, is a very big different point as well. And then, generally speaking, I think when it comes to brands, and this is an interesting conversation, I think there’s still a huge runway for more brand loyalty in this space and cannabis, in wine and wine. And I’m sure you could talk about this forever. I from what I’m not, I’m not a small a nor am I wine expert. But from what I’ve read, people like to drink under a certain price point versus always having a particular brand in mind, unless I’m wrong.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 36:52
Let’s talk about the exploration finding the new new best bottle, I mean, very, very, you don’t see the same sort of brand loyalty and wine. So you’re that’s kind of,
Taylor Foxman 37:01
yeah, so I mean, I think I think that there, people definitely have dispensary’s that because you you have to have if you have like a medical license, you have to have like a dispensary of record. So I think people have dispensaries that they go to that they trust, we have, you know, we have a global retail brand called Good Blend, which is available in Pennsylvania and in Texas. So we have, you know, global retail brands, we also have four or five brands under the parallel umbrella that are products across, you know, various states. But I would say outside of my own company, just a general like viewpoint I have around it is that people are very interested in and loyal to product formats, versus particular brands. I think that is changing. I do, I think that brands are becoming more prevalent, and people want to try certain brands versus others. But I do think that’s a big difference too in this space. Whereas with, especially beverage alcohol, people have brands that they they know my love.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 38:02
Sure, and a lot and a lot of the cannabis brands are so young, I mean, there’s always a new one popping up. And then just evolving and going. So every time you go into the dispensary, or online, you see it like seven new producers, or 710 different types of gummies that are just new. And it’s really hard to actually get brand loyalty except for the few that have just stayed the course of the last five, six years. I
Taylor Foxman 38:24
think on the I think on the cannabis beverage side, I do think that there are some brands that have already been out there that I think can is one of them that has been pretty prominently marketed over the last year, year and a half. There are a few other brands too. But I think on the cannabis beverage side, they are there is more brand awareness because the brand is the can, you know, like the brand is the beverage. So those would be the three biggest I think differences that I’ve seen having been in this space now for about two years.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 38:57
Very interesting. And you also see a lot of crossovers like login itis has their cannabis can and then there’s a lot of talk in the industry in the alcohol industry right now and how the two industries are going to work together because you know that cannabis is taking a market share from the alcohol industry. And there’s a lot of talk about that coming up in August 5 at the wine and weed symposium by the wine industry network. What do you think about that? How should the two industries kind of figure out how to coexist?
Taylor Foxman 39:22
I think it’s just going to take you know, really understand each of the industry is to figure out the best way of working. I think that they are very distinct. But I think things like you’re talking about this symposium sounds really interesting, because I don’t know how many meetings of the minds there have been right. Like I think there have been so many. There have been a lot of brands like you just mentioned lagunitas You know, I think constellation was one of the first brands to roll out a CBD or THC product beverage a few years ago. I just don’t know how much overlap. There’s been so far in kind of a situation like that. Like you said, Where everyone has been working in silo a little bit right to kind of come up with products that overlap in certain ways. But I’m not really sure that there’s been a lot done so far as as kind of these two distinct, very distinct industries to come together to first better understand the industries from like a regulatory perspective, from a legislative perspective. You know, from a marketing perspective, education perspective, and then really figuring out based on when you get down to the core of it, like where can those can those synergies be found. And I think education is going to be a big one. I think education, education and exploration I think would be too I think exploration in both industries is is paramount. And I think education, you know, exploration and education, I think could be the two kind of bigger thematics that, again, what that looks like to be determined. But those those two I think people truly like you just alluded to Drew, I think people really love exploring new bottles of whiskey new bottles of gin, new wine bottles, trying cool, unique beers. I think it’s absolutely the same in cannabis, and education, you know, in alcohol, I think and in the sorry, in this kind of the beverage side of things. While I would say people have a better understanding than they do of cannabis, more broadly speaking, I, for example, I’m very apprehensive to talk about wine. Because as much as I know, the sector, I don’t pretend to know anything much about wine, and I work for wine, I work for a CEO, who are varchars, who started a really interesting, sustainable, sustainable can wine brand. And, you know, just learning from her and her team. I’m learning along the way, but even even someone who’s a seasoned person in the industry, I still think there’s a need for education. And I think brands that can lead with educating, versus leading with, like, their brand, going back to the sowhat element, I think across cannabis, and Bev ALK, I really do think are going to shine, because people are very hesitant. Why do you think people Google Search the shit out of their life? Because they don’t know what they’re doing? I mean, you know, there should be a whole series on like, what we all Google, no one would be up for signing up show their Google tabs. But you know, I think it’s it’s one of those things where there people would rather not know or not buy or not invest in things, because they just don’t have enough education.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 42:33
Sure. That’s so yeah. That’s that’s super, super important. The education, it’s so great to be on the ground floor of this just seeing it unfold. Like I feel like we’re back in like, just right out right after prohibition and how the alcohol industry unfolded over the next 40 years. We’re seeing that right now in cannabis.
Taylor Foxman 42:53
We are and we are going through we are intending to be a publicly see, like the like my public readiness there. I stopped myself, were intending to become a publicly traded company come this summer through a spec merger. And,
Drew Thomas Hendricks 43:11
you know, be God on your side.
Taylor Foxman 43:13
Yeah, being involved, you know, with a company, like you said, where we’re going through this massive transition from hopefully Oh, from intending to be a privately owned company, which we are now to public. That’s also just an experience, like you’ll never like what are the chances you get an opportunity to be involved in something like that from start to finish. So that too, is so interesting, not only being in cannabis, being in a company where we’ve done some very big landmark announcements around m&a deals and notable partnerships and new product launches, but also to be in the kind of the core tenets of people working on this merger deal is really, truly incredible. And I do think that, you know, being able to take all of these lessons as I continue to grow as a leader, like, there’s just there’s nothing like it.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 44:00
So that’s, that’s amazing. You know, it’s been so great talking to you. I’m such a big fan of gratitude. Who do you admire? Right most right now in the industry.
Taylor Foxman 44:10
I am a huge fan of Ashton Barry. Ashton is someone that I’ve admired and alongside many people in this industry have admired for quite some time. She you know, I’d talk to you a little bit you offline, but you know, there are so many people that you know, just talk and don’t really act and that only goes so far. And really Ashton has been and continues to be such an integral, thought leader in this space really standing for and besides so many important people and important topics, and I highly recommend that you all you know, find her on Instagram and social media and really listen to her and learn from her because we can all learn a lot from Ashton.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 44:52
I’ve written it down. I’m definitely that’s a great shout out. You know, today we’ve been talking with Taylor Foxman of the Industry Collective. So Taylor Where can people learn more about you?
Taylor Foxman 45:02
Sure. Well, if you want to learn about me, which is not as exciting as cannabis and cocktails, because I usually just post photos of pasta and beagles, I’m just at at Taylor Foxman on Instagram. That’s easy enough. And then for The Collective, you can find me on www.theindustrycollective.org for Parallel, it’s www.liveparallel.com.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 45:27
That sounds great. Yeah, I’m famous for my awkward closes here, by the way. Is there anything we haven’t talked about that you’d like to talk about?
Taylor Foxman 45:38
Now, I just want to thank you for the opportunity. I love. I love the whole theme of your podcast. And I think I can I am looking forward to continuing to listen in because this is this is a series that could go on forever, right? There are just so many people that have so many interesting stories to share. And I feel very fortunate that you gave me the opportunity to come and share my story. So thank you. Thank you for the space. Oh,
Drew Thomas Hendricks 46:01
Taylor. Thank you so much. So everyone, check out the industrycollective.org and listen to more episodes of Legends Behind the Craft. Bye, everyone.
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