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Women’s Work – What the Story of a 17th Century Brewer Can Teach Us About Brewery Ownership in the 21st Century – Good Beer Hunting

Ask Sarah Perez, brewer at Maui Brewing Co. in Kihei, Hawaii. Despite decades of experience in the brewing industry, Perez says financial obstacles have so far prevented her from opening her own brewery.

“Of course, I really wanted to own a brewery or even a brewpub,” says Perez. “But you can’t bring your influence and ‘people who know you’ to the bank for a loan.” Perez says her identity as a divorced black woman raised by poor white parents is a big part of her worry when it comes to interacting with banks and lenders. She worries that they are less willing to lend to her, or lend to her on less favorable terms, because of these factors. Many black entrepreneurs share his sentiment: 2020 research from the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina found that black entrepreneurs are about three times more likely not to apply for credit out of fear of a refusal of credit.

“I never asked for credit cards because it’s just not something poor people do. Stretching out beyond your means and having no money in your bank account, you don’t do that,” she says. “I would be incredibly scared to go to the bank and apply for a loan on top of just ticking the box that said ‘Black and female’.”

Perez says a real estate agent even told her she should be careful about the mortgage lenders she works with and look for “banks that want to make sure their numbers are up.” [racially] balance. Her apprehension about applying for funding for the brewery as a woman is well founded. A 2021 Fundera/NerdWallet analysis of financing women entrepreneurs concluded that “there is a consistent and systemic disparity in how men and women entrepreneurs can finance their small businesses. Women receive fewer and smaller loans for higher interest rates, which undoubtedly contributes to their disproportionate influence on the national economy. According to the PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor, wholly women-owned businesses have received about 2% of all venture capital funding in the United States over the past decade. Even among Small Business Administration loans, intended to help new small businesses, women receive 2.5 times less money than men, according to the Fundera/NerdWallet report.

“I have the drive and the urge to do business, but I don’t know what makes me say no,” says Perez.

Michelle Foik, co-owner of ERIS Brewery and Cider House in Chicago, Illinois, joined the owner side of the process. She owns ERIS with her business partner Katy Pizza, whose husband, Nunzino, introduced the two women. Foik grew up in a family that owned a hotel and restaurant in Wisconsin, and she started working in the family business as a dishwasher and waitress at age 13. She hasn’t left the hospitality industry since, working in bars, restaurants and breweries from TGI Friday’s to Goose Island Beer Co. to Revolution Brewing over the following decades.

All that experience, Foik says, has given some investors confidence in his ability to handle ERIS. But her co-founder’s husband, who has no operational role in ERIS but previously owned a hop farm, was also responsible for bringing in investors. Even though ERIS is co-owned by two women, one of their husbands still played a vital role in establishing the business. “We got some of the money thanks to Nunzino. …I decided to be with someone who is also known in the industry for making financial decisions for investors very well,” says Foik. “But I think a lot of the Revolution investors involved in ERIS came because of me.”

It’s impossible for Perez, Foik or anyone else to know exactly how their journey to opening a brewery would be different if they were of one gender, race or class. different. Yet there are times when gender explicitly comes to the fore: Foik says the woman who ran the bank department that ERIS worked with said she was enthusiastic about their business precisely because she belonged to a woman. we need. We need more of that. ‘…She was behind us 100%,’ Foik says.

But Foik also describes a negative experience with a city official who she says was condescending to her and Pizza because they were women; after meeting with them to tour their facilities, this official later apologized for underestimating their business plan. At times like this, Foik says she was grateful to have other brewery owners, men and women, she could talk to and ask if they had had similar experiences.

“I wanted to know: is it typical or is it just because it’s us? Foik said.