Vanessa Braxton, the first Black woman founder of a distillery in the United States, has received five proclamations from the New York State government, Black News reports.
In 2015, she received one from Suffolk County Executive. She received another one from NY State Assembly Citation in 2016 and one more from the NY State Legislature, 16th District in 2018. Two were added from the town of Huntington, according to Black News.
For almost 10 years since she released Black Momma Vodka on the west coast with a co-distillery, Braxton has been a major force in the spirit industry in the United States. In 2013 when she introduced her ultra-premium vodka brand, she made history as the first African-American woman owner and operator of a nationally distributed vodka.
In 2016, she opened her own company in Wyandanch, New York called Gravesande Braxton Distillers, which is 100% Black-owned. Braxton is the only Black woman in the country to own her own distillery, manufacturing facility, and 15-acre farm grow house.
Her distillery now distills gin, liquors, and vermouth and is planning to release American Single Malt Whiskey 100% Barley. It also provides private labeling, contract distilling, blending, and bottling for people who want to procure their own craft spirit brand, as stated by Black News.
When the pandemic struck in 2020, Braxton ventured into the making of hand sanitizers for the Department of Homeland and health care facilities across the country.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Braxton, with a huge experience in the government and corporate industry, earned a bachelor of science degree in construction management and engineering from Pratt Institute in New York. She then went through the executive program in negotiation at Harvard Law School and consortium with MIT. Braxton subsequently started a career in corporate and government industries where she managed construction and engineering contracts worth over $350 million for the New York State government, reports said.
But while in college, Braxton was already selling drinks to her colleagues after having obtained a liquor license. This will push her to start Black Momma Vodka after retiring from her corporate and government work.
Black Momma Vodka is “distilled five times and filtered five times from corn for its signature smooth taste. It’s distilled through Crushed Diamond Lava Rocks and fused with Cascade Mountain Spring Water from Oregon,” according to its website.