Black female spirit owner refuses to surrender to pandemic

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IT New Wire

As businesses close and brands disappear from shelves, this Jefferson Park native refuses to let yet another setback keep her from bringing her product to the masses

According to an August 2020 release from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the number of active business owners fell 22% between February to April, and Black businesses experienced the most acute decline with a 41% drop. The pandemic has crippled many small businesses, but let’s not pretend that the playing field was even for minority, female entrepreneurs prior to that.

When Dee Tutt began making her rum concoction for parties and gatherings over 35 years ago, the former hairstylist never dreamed that her crowd-pleasing cocktail would evolve from hand-mixed pitchers to the production line. This spirits industry trailblazer and female brand owner formulated her homegrown taste of the islands—Savîle Tropical Rum Cocktail—from feedback from friendly and friends, not in a lab.

“This product was born from people. I would make it to enjoy with family and friends and it has evolved based on their feedback and encouragement. It was made from good times with those I love and care about and I think you can taste that,” said Tutt.

Tutt was adamant about crafting Savîle to be all natural, gluten free, non-GMO and vegan friendly. Tutt refused to cut corners and spared no expense to use the best of ingredients which received criticism from some of her industry counterparts.

“There are always naysayers and those that will cause you to second-guess yourself and your mission, as well as encourage you to risk the integrity of your product, or just plain quit,” said Tutt. “As a minority female in this industry, these types of setbacks have been in large supply, not to mention the financial challenges that the majority of small business owners face. The important thing is not to submit, and move forward. We can break through some of these gender and racial barriers by not giving up.”

Tutt has established distribution with 88 Spirits out of Ontario, CA and continues to seek additional distribution partnerships in order to bring her 15% ABV ready-to-drink tropical rum cocktail to more retailers across the country. With no intention of slowing down, Tutt intends to continue to be a driving force in her industry and hopes to expand her line of offerings.

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