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LeeAnn Maxwell and Carrie King
Partners, Owners and Founders, Vixen Vodka
Alpharetta, GA

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“Real Women Inspire Us. That's why we're doing what we're doing. We’re all about being real, owning who you are, no matter your shape size or body type.”

LeeAnn Maxwell and Carrie King, are the partners, owners and founders of Vixen Vodka. Each of them took the leap from corporate America (Carrie in the cable television world, LeeAnn in finance), where they were both very comfortable. Now, they are in the very disruptive and male-dominated world of spirits!

What inspires you? Real Women Inspire Us. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing. We’re all about being real, owning who you are, no matter your shape size or body type. It’s about finding your inner Vixen. Even the legs on our bottle are real. She’s our friend, she has great legs doesn’t she?

Do you have a favorite quote? A Dream without action is merely a fantasy.

What are the most pressing issues facing women today? The narcissistic culture we live in today annoys us. The fear of not being perfect, not just looks, but the perfect mom, the perfect career woman, the perfect wife. When in reality it’s your flaws that make you unique. We feel that young women need real women role models.

What are the biggest keys to your success? Our persistence and our personalities. When we go to a distributor, a liquor store owner, etc., it’s very hard to say no to these two sassy blondes! We take “nos” as “not yets.”

What are the biggest keys to the advancement or success of women? We are more empathetic leaders, we are more passionate, we are more hands on. We play to these strengths every day. We’re certainly not man haters; we’re both married and love our husbands very much. But we also know how to speak to women, what language to use and how to use it and when.

Where did the inspiration for your business come from?
We’re girls who went on a girls weekend beach trip, drank a few too many martinis around the pool and came up with an idea of a vodka made by women for women. Not a skinny, not a flavor, not a ready to drink, just a pure spirit that women could identify with and stock their bar with. We realized that men ordered by brand (“I’ll take a Ketel and soda,” “I’ll take a Goose and tonic”) and we order by drink (“we’ll take a cosmo,” “we’ll take a lemon drop”), and we wondered why don’t we order by brand? We realized that there wasn’t a brand out there for us, so we decided to make one!

Where is your product sold (if applicable)? We are currently distributed throughout the states of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, West Virginia, Minnesota, and Colorado. Texas, Kentucky, Illinois and Louisiana are lined up for the remainder of 2014. If you don’t see us on the shelf or behind the bar, ask for us! You can always buy us online at one of our favorite retailers, Aces Spirits. We also have an online store for Vixen “stuff.”

What advice do you have for a woman who is considering starting a business? Our best advice to anyone who is thinking of taking the leap is know what you don’t know. Be very smart about what you know, but be even smarter about what you don’t & surround yourselves with people who do. We didn’t know much about vodka, except we liked to drink it! So we did a lot of research (& a lot of Googling). We went with our instincts a lot. Be passionate & persistent. No one is going to love it like you do. But it all comes down to people and relationships. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – ultimately people want to see you succeed.

What are the biggest hurdles you’ve faced in starting or growing your business? How did you overcome these? When the Vixens sat down with a business consultant to review their initial plan, he closed the document, told them how well written it was and then said, “You’ll never make it”. When asked why, he replied, “Because it’s the liquor industry, it’s all men, and they will eat you up and spit you out.” LeeAnn and Carrie looked right back at him and said in their sweet Southern syrupy way, “Sugar, this could be a pair of pantyhose or a tube of lipstick, we’re creating a brand and we know what women want.” This is an ongoing hurdle that we face every day and we’ve tailored our marketing to approach women where they are, in salons, spas, boutiques, book clubs, tennis and golf tournaments, etc. And it propels us every day to do things differently.

Now, to the most important question. What is your favorite Cocktail?
LeeAnn: VaVaVixen (and you kinda have to shimmy as you say it!) Vixen Vodka, White Strawberry Cranberry Juice and a splash of elderflower liqueur.
Carrie: The Island Vixen (inspired by St. Simons Island where Vixen was conceived) Vixen Vodka, Ginger Ale, Pineapple Juice and Pink Raspberry Lemonade.

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