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Thursday, Sep 21, 2023

Fierce & Kind Joins Growing Local Spirits Industry

BEVERAGES: San Diego Region a Hotspot for Distillers

Fierce & Kind is quickly joining the ranks of San Diego’s successful burgeoning distilled spirits companies.

Within four months of its launch in January, Fierce & Kind whiskey, bourbon and vodka found shelf space at BevMo! and Total Wine & More stores, and at liquor stores throughout San Diego County – a quick rise that is “unheard of for non-celebrity (backed) brands,” says co-founder and CEO Basem Harb.

Basem Harb
Founder & CEO
Fierce & Kind Spirits

“I think it’s just one of those amazing ascendance stories – the ascension of a spirits company in a very crowded space in a short period of time,” he said, noting that the company has been experiencing sales growth in the high double digits since inception.

Fierce & Kind spirits are served at Mister A’s and at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, myriad sites throughout Southern California and future plans to expand across the country.

Harb and co-founder Cyndi Smith bootstrapped the company early on and recently began an equity crowdfunding campaign in part to create a community of consumer-owners “one in which every consumer/investor effectively becomes a brand ambassador,” Harb said.

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Fierce & Kind has also begun its outreach to traditional investors and expects to complete its first major raise by the end of 2023.

“We wanted to be able to approach investors with a good proposition,” Harb said. “We didn’t want to come with an idea, we wanted to come with what is already a successful business model, a product that is proven in the marketplace and is showing not just viability but extreme traction.”

The company earlier this month has already brought in “six figures” from its first investor on its way to a $1.1 million planned raise, Harb said.

Regional Success in Growing Spirits Space

The spirits space is growing in the United States because of a greater demand for premium products. According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, consumers are drinking less but consuming better and more premium drinks and that the U.S. spirits market size is expected to grow from $75 billion in 2023 to $96 billion by 2028. The Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. said that in 2022, spirits gained market share for the 13th consecutive year with supplier sales of 42.1%, squeaking by beer’s 41.9% market share.

Distilled beverages are a growing market locally as well, and San Diego has steadily been building a name for itself in the space.

According to the San Diego Distillers Guild there are now 18 local distilleries and include small-batch producers like Vista-based 117° West Spirits to large producers like Cutwater Spirits, the largest distillery in San Diego, crafting spirits, mixers, freezer pops and award-winning canned cocktails.

Earlier this year, San Diego’s Skrewball Whiskey – which had become an almost overnight national success because of its unique peanut butter flavor – drew focus on the region’s growing spirits industry when Pernod Ricard, the No. 2 producer of wines and spirits in the U.S., bought a majority stake in the company.

Bottled and Blended Locally

Fierce & Kind straight bourbon whiskey, American vodka and a special limited release single barrel cask strength – nearly 113 proof – bourbon have drawn accolades, including a double platinum award and a gold award at the Ascot Awards by the American Spirits Council of Tasters.

Distilled and crafted in North Carolina, where Harb says the environment is ideal for the creation of these types of alcohol, the products are bottled and blended in Spring Valley and self-distributed. The company will also produce a reposado tequila next year.

Fierce & Kind allocates 25% of its profits to its Fierce & Kind Equity Foundation, which Harb says funnels energy, action and capital into “historically excluded spaces,” allowing those in need to build generational equity while combating social injustices. The company’s name is taken from a quote by Maya Angelou.

Co-founder Smith said that a lot of people have asked her and Harb how they have had so much success so quickly.

“The restaurants, bars and bottle shops we’ve reached out to have been very supportive and take the first meeting with us because we’re local and they like our mission,” she said. “That gets us in the door. Then they taste our spirits and they’re like, ‘Wow, that’s really good!’ That inks the deal.”

Fierce & Kind Ltd.

CEO: Basem Harb
BUSINESS: Food & Beverage/Alcohol
FUNDING: More than $1 million
WEBSITE: fiercenkind.com
CONTACT: hello@fiercenkind.com
SOCIAL IMPACT: Business’s Fierce & Kind Equity Foundation gets 25% of the company’s profits to fund economic opportunities and entrepreneurship in historically underserved communities.
NOTABLE: Fierce & Kind was named the official spirits brand at the 2023 Cymbiotika San Diego Open women’s tennis tournament presented by ResMed running through Sept. 16.


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