WINKS – A platform for people to learn about women and non-binary people in the drinks industry, and the issues they face
Phoebe Hoey and Ella Rodriguez-Dunn, two young women working in the drinks industry in the North of England, have launched a new social platform called WINKS, for women and non-binary people within the drinks industry.
WINKS aims to include all sectors of the industry, from beer to cocktails, to coffee, and become a place where people can learn women in the drinks industry, the roles they fulfill and issues they face. The platform will also become a place to share career development stories and advice for those making their way in the industry. Centered around Instagram at the moment, Phoebe Hoey and Ella Rodriguez-Dunn plan to grow the community and then begin holding in-person networking events.
Phoebe Hoey describes how WINKS came about: “Ella and I have been friends for years, we went to school together. I worked as Taproom staff at Farm Yard Brew Co on my gap year and Ella got a job for Oxfam, asking people for donations on the street. Towards the end of my gap year, I got a job as a Brand Ambassador for an RTD Cocktail brand. I immediately fell in love with the drinks industry. Ella was unhappy with her Oxfam job so I said to her I’d try and get her a job. I said ‘if you can do the Oxfam job, you’d make a fab drinks rep’ and I was right. Ella started her job as a drinks rep for a non-alc beer, then going on to represent three spirit brands. I am still a rep for the RTD cocktails as well as a social media manager for one of the Spirits Ella represents. We both agreed there were so many men in the industry and we discussed that there was no platform or community for women in the industry…
As two young women starting fresh careers in drinks – with no contacts, no platform and no clue, we soon realised how hard the industry was to navigate alone and especially how male-dominated it was. Working as brand reps, we realised it takes 10x longer to get your brand into a bar compared to if you knew the GM or even the name of them. It really is a ‘not what you know but who you know situation’ sometimes. If we hadn’t have networked and practically forced people to get to know us, our brands would not have been as successful. Networking can be hard for some people – we wanted to make it easier. The industry is also incredibly male-dominated which can be frustrating for women first starting out in the industry. We were lucky to meet many experienced women in the industry and they became mentors to us however not everyone has this.”
Phoebe encourages everyone to get involved and help grow the community: “We want to hear stories from everyone – be it men or women. We just want to hear as many people’s experiences in drinks as possible and share them on our platform. We hope this will inspire people to seek a career in drinks or further their bar job to a higher position such as GM or even a sales position.”