Melyssa Barrett: Welcome to The Jali Podcast. I’m your host, Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around diversity, inclusion and equity. Each week, I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share or is actively part of building solutions in this space. Let’s get started.
Old Hillside Bourbon Company was created out of the love for bourbon, friendship and camaraderie. This team was organically formed through quality time and great conversation. Their vision is fueled by optimism, integrity, and a sense of responsibility to build a successful household bourbon brand that tells a story people can cherish and love. They are a group of individuals, each with different experiences, careers and professional goals. The collective hope was to infuse the history of Kentucky with their North Carolinian roots that unite them. Their strength lies in their passion for sharing stories and in leveraging diverse personal and professional experiences in order to curate an unmatched product, brand and service to their customers.
Everyone loves a great story. One of the things I really am enjoying is just learning more about these amazing gentlemen. This week, I have the great opportunity to talk to Emanuel Waters, who is an experienced contracts consultant in Silicon Valley. He has over 10 years of experience in both commercial and government contracts. Courtney Tucker is an experienced communications technician with a demonstrated history of working in the broadcast media industry for over 20 years. Jesse Carpenter is an experienced Six Sigma Lean Manufacturing Black Belt with over 12 years of professional experience in Lean Six Sigma, and Brian Burton is an experienced IT professional with a vast knowledge of various systems in the operational environment for tackling day-to-day business operations.
This, my friends, is how you get your friends and build an unparalleled amazing team. Please join me as I hear from the founders of Old Hillside Bourbon Company. This week, I am excited. I actually have four founders of Old Hillside Bourbon Company, and we are excited to talk to them, Courtney, Brian, Jesse and Emanuel. I am super excited about what you all are doing, not only in selling bourbon and your leadership in that market, but also in what you’re doing in the community. But I figured we might start off just talking about how you all met and got together and whose idea was this in the first place?
Jesse Carpenter: It was June 1st, a couple years ago, go out, had a dream and I called Brian Burton and I said, “Man, I want to start a bourbon company,” and hoping he would to tell me to go to sleep, he said, “Yeah. Let’s do it.” I don’t know what to do. He didn’t know what to do and I just started downloading books and just reading and studying the craft. Then, we made a call to Courtney. Courtney, he joined the team and Courtney made a call to Emanuel and here we are.
Melyssa Barrett: Wow. That’s amazing. How do you know each other?
Jesse Carpenter: Brian and I went to high school together. Me, Brian and Courtney went to middle school together and Brian and Courtney went to elementary school.
Melyssa Barrett: Oh, my goodness. All right. You all go way back.
Brian Burton: Many moons ago. Many moons ago.
Melyssa Barrett: Well, you guys don’t look that old. I don’t want to make it sound aggressive, but what made you think you could just start a bourbon company? What is you all’s background? How do you do that?
Brian Burton: Because we’ve been successful in Corporate America, right? I think we attributed our experience and our expertise and we applied it to something that we had a passionate project for. I think that in doing that, we felt like we could be successful in whatever we do, because I think a big part of what we do is project management, right? We’re managing a project. This is what I applied it as personally, as a project. It’s a passionate project, but I applied my knowledge and my ability to this bourbon company. Right? That’s how we thought we can do it. [crosstalk 00:05:20]
Melyssa Barrett: All right. Awesome. Well, obviously you can it because you’re doing it. That’s fantastic. Tell me about Old Hillside Bourbon Company and what it means to you all to bring it to the market and distribute it and what is that like and what’s unique about it? Because actually, I have to admit, I have opened my bottle and drank some Old Hillside, so I didn’t just buy the bottles over there. I have actually opened it and drank some liquor as well. Tell us about it.
Courtney Tucker: Hillside, traditionally, it was one of the oldest black high schools in North Carolina. In the city of Durham, it was primarily where a lot of the…. At that time, black folk went to school. The history is there. Ernie Barnes, Shirley Caesar, Andre Talley, you know these names, they walked the same halls as we did. That lineage is there for us to build upon. That’s what it means. It’s living up to what our forefathers and our ancestors and our matriarchs have set it before us, taking those paths and pushing it further forward. Hillside is a lot of heritage, so it leads it to our motto for what the company is today.
Melyssa Barrett: Fantastic. I know you all have… If I remember, Emanuel has some specific, if I remember correctly, there are bottles here that are named after your daughter, is it? Amaya?
Emanuel Waters: Yeah. The unique thing about being able to do single barrel. One thing when we started is you’ll find is that we’re so into the community. We’re a small company, but we’re into local, right? We had an opportunity to do barrel naming, so people could found that they could reach out to us. They could touch us. As Brian said, being in the community, the first barrel we ever did with GNR, which was a guy, Greg proposed to his wife. Then, we named another barrel to Marshall, which is somebody in the community. This first barrel that was coming into California, I decided to name after my daughter who was born in a time of COVID. It was reminder to stay strong in the midst of when the world is going crazy.
Again, it relates back to Brian, right? History, heritage, homage, and the reason why this is so passionate. You had asked earlier about…. Hey, we don’t know nothing about starting a bourbon company, but like as Courtney said, we all are masters in our space, but for us, it really is about building generational wealth. Unique thing about it is, it works out. Jesse called Brian, Brian called Courtney, Courtney called me. Well, me and Courtney are actually blood cousins, but we didn’t grow up together. We actually didn’t even know of each other until we moved to California, like literally in this last decade and that particular day and this is how I know this company is really ordained is the day, before that he called me, this was literally George… This is the heart of George Floyd. This was COVID. This was just the world is on fire.
I’m reading an article about black wealth that’s going to disseminate in America in like 2040, black wealth is going to be gone. I said I would really love to do something that would create general wealth and not even 24 hours later, Courtney’s calling me talking about, “Hey, I’m starting a bourbon company with these guys and do you want to be a partner?” I was like, “Absolutely.” From that point on, we’ve really been… Hit the ground running. I have a daughter, but this is literally my baby.
Jesse Carpenter: Our babies, and we’re so passionate about this. This wasn’t about just getting drunk. That wasn’t what this is about. This is about, as Brian said, history, heritage and homage. The one thing about us is we are the only brand that we are aware of that it’s telling the story of African-American horse race jockeys, which we have literally dominated this sport for decades, but nobody knows this history. That was why we are so passionate to tell this story of these African-American horse race jockeys that made the Kentucky Derby famous. Just like so much of our history in Black America, it was washed away due to racism. We’re looking forward to continually tell that story. We’re excited about this.
Melyssa Barrett: I love it. We’re excited with you. I’m assuming maybe you’re the only bourbon company owned by four black men or no?
Courtney Tucker: That would be affirmative. I think the other companies are comprised of maybe three to two persons or maybe a single person, but yes, definitely for us, these four people coming together is the only one.
Melyssa Barrett: What is the diversity like when it comes to your industry? When you walk around and see people and other folks and CEOs that are running companies, do they tend to look like you, or…
Jesse Carpenter: I would personally say that they don’t look like us, that they don’t really… Then, there’s a few out there that do… We partner with a few brands that just to talk to them and get some help if we needed to. But for the most part, it’s not too many people who live like we do.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. That’s awesome. Tell us a little bit about the history. I know when it comes to the jockeys and I know Emmanuel, we talked a little bit about the Kentucky Derby and you just mentioned that, but there’s so much history as you all were talking about, Brian was talking about Old Hillside and the shoulders that you all stand beside and on top of, what stories are important for people to know?
Courtney Tucker: Well, traditionally as you would know, we haven’t been given the opportunities to break into certain spaces. We created our own lanes of Jack and Jill to which can be controversial, but I know for me, as a participant in Jack and Jill, that got me into rooms that I would never have been in on my own. Having these opportunities be created and for us kicking in the door and people sticking out the olive branch and giving us a helping hand to move forward through the diversity, not just because they look like us. This has given us the opportunity to push the door and push the envelope even further for black bourbons.
Brian Burton: I want to piggyback off that a little bit too in terms of being the only one in the room. I think we’re used to that on a day-to-day. In Corporate America, you don’t see a lot of black folks in a managerial bridges position or in any type of leadership role, right? I think for us, we wanted to be able to create something that we were front and center on. In terms of the bourbon business, there’s not a lot of us in that business. We wanted to make a mark on that business in terms of just being part and being trailblazers and being in those rooms and making decisions, and we wanted to build our generational wealth starting with our community, starting with our circle of friends, and we wanted to just show that in what we’re doing currently with Old Hillside.
Melyssa Barrett: What has this process been like for you all to have started your own company? What is that like?
Brian Burton: We’re laughing because we’ve got a lot of doors shut in our face. Right? That’s not uncommon. That’s not uncommon. I think we’re built for that in terms of just how we operate. We don’t stop. We don’t take no for an answer, right? We’re trying to just create and build that tolerance in terms of like, “We need to be in this space.” Right? I think that the fact that we’re not in this space is a shame because the Black Jockey in itself, we have that rich history that needs to be told. Right? The Black Jockey is something that I was the first athlete, was the first mega athlete. That’s not talked about. That’s erased. That’s not even a part of what we’ve learned in school. I think for us, we want to get that story out. We want to tell those stories. We want to be a part of that history. I think what we’re doing is being a part of history. I think it’s bigger than us.
Melyssa Barrett: Definitely. You’re making blazing history and telling it all at the same time. I love it. Tell me a little bit about your backgrounds. I know it sounds like many of you have either are working during the day and doing this as well or you have had your own careers along the way and have gone through that. What have you learned along the way with your own careers?
Jesse Carpenter: That’s a really good question. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that, but just the discipline it takes to do the day-to-day, we have to apply that same discipline to what we’re doing. If we don’t do that, then [inaudible 00:15:12] and we’re not giving our brand the same push that we do Corporate America jobs. That’s what I think the biggest takeaway, push our brand as hard as we push our 9:00 to 5:00s.
Emanuel Waters: To piggyback off that, a lot of the skillset that we do on our daily Corporate America, they’re transferable to our company. We’re touching product management. We’re talking finance. We’re touching marketing. Everything that we’re doing in Corporate America, we touch on a daily basis to our company. I think each of us have our own expertise and then we put it together and it was really amazing. When we started forming the team, we really started to find the strengths and weaknesses. Brian can see detail like nobody’s business. If you look at our label, that is literally all him. That is hours of Google Drives and pictures and with the vibe and I’m one of those people, I don’t care about art.
Two minutes in, I’m like, “Just show me a contract, I don’t want to do it.” Right? But again, like we always talk about, it’s organically formed. That’s the best thing about working with these guys, is on a day-to-day basis, say, I can call Jesse and be like, “Hey, man. I don’t understand about how to stack our palettes.” I don’t know anything about how to ship the bourbon,” but I can tell you what store we’re going to be in and I know the contracts that we’re going to be in, because I can handle that portion about or, “Brian, this picture is turned upside down. Please flip it around for me,” or call Courtney to be like, “Hey, man. What we’re supposed to about this?” I’m talking about the ledge because he hasn’t called personally, and I thought I’m off the chain height all the time.
This team, we balance each other out and it started off as a passion, but this is something that we love to do. I love talking to [inaudible 00:17:07] I’m pretty much a… We formed the bourbon guys. We’ve been talking 17, 25, 80 hours a day. It’s fun, but we’re also doing the work. Like I said, we are still working for Corporate America and we’ve decided when we started this, it’s like to go where we need to go right now, it’s going to require us to get off Corporate America and really build this thing. We’re at that point now. We started 18 months ago. If you were to tell me 18 months ago that we’d be in Kentucky, which is the best place for bourbon, the number one state for bourbon and then North Carolina, which is where we’re from, which is the hardest state to get into. People don’t know, but there’s one brand that we know that took literally 13 years to try to get into the state and we got it in three months.
Melyssa Barrett: Wow.
Emanuel Waters: They called us to come in.
Melyssa Barrett: Wow.
Emanuel Waters: Now, we’re in California, which is the largest market in America. I can’t tell you how fast these 18 months have gone. We’re just amazed. We’re in awe. This whole weekend, we’re just like, “Wow.” We’re at our distillery. We’re seeing a new bottle, which I’ll show you, which is absolutely amazing. We just did a second expression, which actually has before godfathers of African-American horse face jockey, end up being stores and we talked about this 20 months ago. It’s just amazing.
Melyssa Barrett: Wow. Oh, that’s fantastic. This is a commemorative bottle that everybody should get a piece of?
Courtney Tucker: Yes, absolutely. It was commemorating the guys who foster the sport in its infancy to become the dominant that it is a world around. Most would think Bill Schumacher, but there’s the Soup Perkins and the Isaac Murphy’s of this world who are truly the Michael Jordans of the actual horse racing.
Melyssa Barrett: That’s fantastic. I love it. What is in store for Old Hillside? Where are you guys going to be in five years? What’s the dream?
Brian Burton: I think the sky’s the limit.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah.
Brian Burton: The sky’s the limit, right? I think we can only go as far as we allow ourselves to go. I think whatever we can dream, we can achieve. Right? We have our own individual lives and our own aspirations, but I think it’s important to connect with like-minded individuals. We want certain things, not just for ourselves, but for our families and for our community. I think that’s one thing that we really, really focus on is we want to lay that blueprint down for the next generation. We want to give that to the next generation.
Melyssa Barrett: I love that.
Brian Burton: Just wanting to build a generation of wealth, wanting to do something for the community. This is not for us. This is bigger than us. In terms of just diversity and inclusion, again, we want to sit at the table. In the process, we’ve gotten a lot of nos and I think we turn those nos into, “See what we’re doing, see how we’re getting this done.” Right? It seems like a short amount of time, but we really strategize and we put the work in to be successful on our terms. I think that’s important to put out there is that, “Hey, here’s how you can do this.” I think it’s hard work, determination and the will to be successful.
Melyssa Barrett: Well, I honestly think it is absolutely amazing at what you all have done in less than two years. I just have to celebrate you guys because I know I’ve talked to other folks that have been not necessarily in bourbon, but they’re not even close to where you all have been and have accomplished in such a short period of time. I just want to celebrate what you all are doing. I think what’s so powerful to me is not only… Of course, generational wealth is dear to my heart. I sit on the board for balance and they are all about financial education, smart money coaching, and really eliminating generational poverty. That is their focus. Generational wealth is near and dear to my heart, of course, having worked at Visa in the financial industry for so long.
But I love the fact that you all are bringing it local, really focusing on some social impact initiatives as well, so that you can highlight, not only your brand, but the history that comes along with the brand, which I think is phenomenal. What other things do you all want to touch on? I know you said you’re at your distillery this weekend. What has that been like? Because I know you guys are from all over. Right? You’re not in the same places, so you all have to come together to actually do the business in some cases.
Jesse Carpenter: Yeah. We actually flew in to Lexington this weekend. It’s like, I think the second or third time that we’ve all been together, and not on Zoom. We need to celebrate more and more. I come here and work so hard, and just have fun and celebrate. That’s what we have to do, actually remove ourself from the day-to-day and just take these accomplishment and celebrate them and not be so on to the next project. That’s why tonight after we got off this call, we’re going to go have some fun and just celebrate our gold medal in recent competition and just have some fun and just laugh and live the Old Hillside lifestyle.
Melyssa Barrett: Yes. Yes. Well, I see you all have already broke out the bourbons. We started partying already, right? I love it. Why was it bourbon, instead of wine or some other distilled alcohol? Where did the bourbon idea come from?
Courtney Tucker: Bourbon, man, it’s something to be shared. I don’t know. I’m not saying the other spirits can’t be about sharing, but bourbon is definitely built around everyone getting together and sitting around and talking. That’s what Old Hillside is about. It’s about us sitting down and talking and just having a good time and sharing some good bourbon and sharing stories, so that’s what it’s about. It’s really about the camaraderie. That’s why we chose bourbon.
Melyssa Barrett: Okay.
Brian Burton: I relate it to community. Right? I don’t want to get too far left, but it’s a way of just really paying homage to the community. What we should do is sit around the table and play spades or just something that we all can relate to. There’s two things that you can relate to, music and alcohol, right? That brings everybody together. I think what we wanted to do was create a brand, like Brian said, is just to celebrate each other, to celebrate each other and we’re not doing this to get drunk or just go wild out. We’re doing it to just talk about old stories and share old stories and talk about how I used to take Jesse’s lunch money in junior high school and he looked up to me as one of the forefathers of what…
No. No. This is what we want. This is the thing that we really, really cherish. I enjoy being with these guys. I think we’re like-minded individuals. We’re on the same page. We want the same things. I think that’s very important with our team and I always say, “We’re like Voltron.” We come together and we form this greater unit. I think it’s strengthened that. I celebrate these guys every day and they don’t know… I tell them I love them and we always had these little check-ins because during the pandemic for us, as black men, it was hard. We kept each other together, kept each other in line, kept each other on point. I think that’s one of the things that, for me, created that special bond that we have currently.
Melyssa Barrett: I love that. Yeah. Go ahead.
Emanuel Waters: I was going to piggyback off. I think the one thing about this team too, is we really hold each other accountable. If this is your lane and you say you want to do something at 4:00, you better own it and you better do it. Yeah. It’s good to have those conversations and I’ll take it as a privilege to say that anything that we do now, this is probably where… Anything that we do, any move that we make, we are a 100% on one accord. If we do not, all the way, four out of four, we’re not going to do it. Now, we may not necessarily agree which route we’re going to take and we may have some conversations about which route we’re going to go, and it maybe some we’ve had some calls, like I said… Again, this has all been virtual, Google Hangouts that we get in the room. But again, this is, “Okay. Do we agree with this?” “I agree, I agree, I don’t agree.” If you don’t agree, all right, then we shut it down and we’ll go different route, and we’ll come back and visit it.
That’s something that speaks to really this team. You’re trying to build a million dollar business and we’re doing it all via Google Hangouts and basically put some classmates together and it’s just amazing. For me, I’m learning for these guys every day like, “Okay. I don’t have everything in line. I don’t know everything,” but I’ll call Jesse, “Hey, what you just got going on?” Or, “B, what about this?” And, “Courtney, what about this?” In addition to that, these guys are much older than me, so they have some years of wisdom. They got some years of wisdom on me. Let’s talk about the ’80s, I wasn’t around, so what was it like?
Melyssa Barrett: Oh, my God. I’m feeling a little old here myself like, “Look out.”
Jesse Carpenter: Hey, he does that every single call, every single meeting, at least one jab at our age. To piggyback on what he said, man, we have to be on the same page at the same time. If it’s any reservations from anybody, we just don’t do it. If we don’t do it, there’s no hard feelings. We don’t not call each other for a week. It was next morning, I’m like, “Brian, man, pick up your phone, man. I don’t care if you’re mad at me.” It’s just what we have to do, and he understands that it’s not personal. It’s not personal. It’s just what we have to do in the moment bringing it forward. If Brian don’t have buy-in or Emanuel don’t have buy in, we can’t move forward.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah.
Jesse Carpenter: For us to figure out a route where we all can take to make this successful project because the more we are engaged, believe it or not, the more we’re going to push the idea and that’s what we try to do.
Courtney Tucker: Yeah. I think I just want to try and make up too. Everybody has their season. What I mean by that is we don’t all work on… We work on the same project, but everybody has lead on certain projects. Right? I think that we all have egos as men. Right? Just to be able to allow the other person to take control, “Hey, I don’t have the expertise, run a table on that.” You know what I’m saying? I can sit back and I can work on something else. I think just being humble and just being just in tune with each other, I think helps. I think that communication that we have is key because a lot of businesses fail because there’s no communication. I relate business as a life experience.
Courtney Tucker: If you don’t have communication with your wife or your husband, your marriage is going to fail. Right? When you’re in a business with partners, it’s just like a marriage. You got to have that communication. You got to talk. You got to talk through those hard situations. You got to have that tough conversation. Right? And you got to be able to respect one another in doing that. I think we have that, and that’s really special about this team. I think this is not something that I put together. I’m just a piece of the puzzle. Right? I do my part. I think that’s very important to hold each other accountable. I think that’s what we do. I think that’s what leads to our success.
We didn’t start this overnight. Right? We didn’t. I think it’s a combination of our careers and our experience and I think we’ve been working for over 20 years in corporate. Right? We’re not going to get rich, let’s be honest, working for somebody else. I think we acknowledge that. I think what we want to do is create that generational wealth and the only thing to do that is work with each other and combine our strengths, our powers, and make something greater. Brian has a great analogy. I love this story. It’s the story to five lines. I’m going to let Brian tell you about that.
Melyssa Barrett: All right.
Brian Burton: Five lines, which we indicated on the front of our label are the five lines of the sand, [inaudible 00:30:41], province of the Zimbabwe nature preserve over in Africa, back home. Yeah. Those five lines decided to come together and form a coalition, which is not a pride. A pride comprises of cubs and female alliance. They formed a coalition to come to dominate that nature preserve over one million acres. You’re talking about these five lines were dominant on their own, but they chose to come together to combine their abilities. To tie what you have asked of the other guys, and they’ve spoken it, ad nauseam, you know the old adage. Two times, it’s harder. Two times are smarter. Sometimes three. We do this [inaudible 00:31:29] for those before us who have poured into our cup. How could we not pour another cup?
That’s what we’re doing. We’re taking that corporate knowledge of sitting in a boardroom and you treated as if you’re a mute, as if you’re not a student enough to be in the room when you are. Not only do you deserve to be in that room, you actually should have your own room. They should be coming to you. That’s why this stuff works. Emanuel and I can sit on the opposite sides of the table every time we meet. It does not matter. We know we’re going to the same place. It doesn’t matter. It’s never about the ego. Yeah. The fragile male, ego is there, but we do have an ego that says, “Hey, we’re going to do better than we did yesterday. We’re going to make this a success.” We’re pouring back into our community as we do no. We’re pouring back into the actual Hillside High School and giving back to the individual programs as well as the community at large, trying to form an adult basketball league. This is just not about us getting rich. This is about everybody else benefiting from our work.
Melyssa Barrett: I love that. I love that. Social impact is such an important component of diversity, equity and inclusion. I love to hear when you actually see community change occur as part of the growth of your business. To me, that’s what life is all about. You all are dropping some serious wisdom on some of these CEOs out there who are trying to lead companies. The respect that you all have for each other, I think when people are talking about diversity, equity and inclusion, let’s just start with respect, the accountability that you all give to each other, the ability to allow somebody to stay in their lane and lead when you can step back. These are things, I think a lot of times, after George Floyd was murdered, there were a lot of people that reached out and they were like, “Oh, my gosh. I didn’t know this was happening. I didn’t know this was like this.”
I’m sure you all received calls as well checking in on you, but it was challenging to be part of the community and have to just continue to show up to work smiling when things… But it’s like, “We do this on a daily basis,” and it’s amazing to see what you all are doing and I’ll say all on the side, but really you’re not doing it on the side. You are a full-fledged CEOs and founders of your company and you are…
Emanuel Waters: Nobody sleeps. Nobody sleeps. Nobody sleeps.
Melyssa Barrett: I’m wondering…
Emanuel Waters: We’re on two different coasts. We’re on two different coasts, so one’s going to bed. Then, we got the night shift and then they’re resting and then we’re going, but you touched on something, which is so interesting. From our grandparents, our parents that we’re just taught, “You work your job. You take that abuse. You don’t really…” I think during COVID, it really showed me just the importance of mental health. Right? That’s something that our community shuns on that. Right? It’s okay to say we’re not okay. We’ve been locked in the house for six months, and what we’re seeing with George Floyd and the list can go on. Right? We had to learn. Like Courtney said earlier, we had to check with each other’s mental, “Hey, are you okay? What’s going on? Let’s take a minute to breathe. Let’s see what’s going on.”
We have those mental checks on a weekly basis. That’s very important. These are things that we weren’t taught. We weren’t taught a lot of stuff in business. Our ancestors didn’t know anything about it. Right? If you were lucky enough to have two parents of [inaudible 00:35:40], which some people did. Right? I did, unfortunately, but some parents didn’t. Right? We don’t know anything about diversity and inclusion or how to network or how to [inaudible 00:35:48]. It’s all the stuff that we’re learning. As we go, we didn’t have a playbook. It wasn’t pass down from generation generation like that. We’re learning as we go, right? We’re the new people in the room.
I’m telling these things to my nieces like, “Hey, this what you got to do. We walk in the room and you just have the talk.” I’m telling my sisters like, “Hey, don’t you dare dim your light for people like that.” Even so now, we’re seeing in the spirit space, you see a lot of minority own brands with [inaudible 00:36:17] everything, you’re seeing everything. But the question that we’re seeing now is like, “Okay. There’s a lot of us, but…” Or we’re not in competition. They try to put us up against other black own brands. They’re like, “This is your direct competitors.” Like, “No, no, no, no, no, no. This is whiskey, bourbon. This is a $7 billion industry. There’s enough pie out here for everybody to eat. We don’t need to be up against our brother.” We’ve committed that attitude.
Melyssa Barrett: Right.
Emanuel Waters: Every time somebody’s… We have reached out, “Hey, we want to help. We’re trying to grow.” I’ll be honest with you, some of them have shut the door to our face. Right? Some of them, they push it to the side, but that’s okay. That’s on you all, but we’re an open book and if there’s any minority brands that want to reach out to us as us, we’re an open book. We want to help. If we don’t support us, who will? That’s something that we’ve got to learn as a community, as you mentioned. Right? That’s why we can appreciate your work because it’s all about the community. I we came together and just really create a coalition, imagine what we could do.
Melyssa Barrett: I love that. Coalition. Come on. I love the fact that… You all are so open in terms of mentorship. I think one of the things that I certainly struggle with now is I’m always thinking of looking forward and ahead and trying to develop myself, but sometimes we forget about the people coming behind us and I might be ahead of somebody and be able to offer that opportunity or that word of wisdom that somebody else may need at the time.
Jesse Carpenter: Yeah. Yeah. For me, I started this and I brought these guys in and I had the worst Superman complex. I wanted to control everything. Now, just sitting back and watching Emanuel and Courtney and Brian just go, I feel like these guys have grown. That’s what we don’t give the people behind us. We don’t teach them how to grow in their own space. I don’t question anything that Brian says. I don’t question anything that Emanuel says because I know that their ultimate goal is to push us forward. I don’t question anything. Now, we’re taking that mentality, but giving it to the generation, my son, Courtney’s grandkids and E’s daughters. We are giving that to them, and that’s what it’s all about to us.
Melyssa Barrett: That’s awesome. I can see a major family reunion coming up here somewhere.
Jesse Carpenter: As long as Old Hillside is the sponsoring dream, I’m okay with it.
Melyssa Barrett: That’s right. That’s right. I love it. I love it. No. I just want to thank you all for joining me for this conversation, because I think what you all are doing is powerful. It’s so rare that you see… I remember my dad had his own company or he always had a side hustle or something, but one of the things he always told me was, “Just do it by yourself. Partnerships are challenging.” To have four of you coming together with the mindset of like, “Hey, you know what? If one of us don’t agree, we don’t do it.” That is a lesson in itself because I think a lot of times, it’s hard even to work together as a leadership team, much less when you all are all coming in as founders and really trying to make sure that you’re pushing the business forward.
Brian Burton: I always say you connect yourself with like-minded individuals.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah.
Brian Burton: Right? When you do that, you don’t have issues because that person has your best interest at heart, because he wants the same thing you want. He or she wants the same thing you want. Right? I think that when you focus yourself with like-minded individuals, you don’t have time for folks who don’t have that same pedigree. You don’t have time for that. I don’t have friends. I don’t. If you’re not building me, I don’t mess with you. I’m just being honest. I’m just being honest. That’s how I grow, because I can grow from each and every one of these guys. Right? Because I can learn something that I don’t know, and I can teach them something that they don’t know. Right?
I think that when you form your company and your business around like-minded individuals, you’re going to do nothing but win. Right? Also, you have to see that vision. I think when we got that call, I saw something in that vision that made me want to activate. Right? I believed in that vision. How you operate is you operate from top down like a triangle. Everybody has that vision and they just go forward with that vision, and everybody’s working on the same page, the same altitude, the same hustle, the same grind for that one vision. You have to really see that vision. If you don’t see that vision, you’re not going to succeed.
Melyssa Barrett: There you go. Wow. What a way to end the podcast. That’s awesome. Awesome. Awesome. I wish you all nothing but the best, certainly be blessed in all that you all are doing. Look, I do have a young child here. Apparently, they’re knocking, but anyway, thank you guys for being here. I, again, wish you guys all the best. I know I’m also looking to make sure that I have your bios and stuff and I can record your introduction. Whenever you guys get a chance, photos would be good as well because we want to make sure that we’re marketing you.
Emanuel Waters: Did I send you our PowerPoint deck?
Melyssa Barrett: No.
Emanuel Waters: I did not? Okay. I’ll send it again.
Melyssa Barrett: Okay.
Emanuel Waters: I’ll send it.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. If you could send it, that’d be awesome. Then, we’ll maybe try to do some additional things as well as much as possible. I also do an Ujamaa focus because I spent a lot of time on Kwanzaa as well. Cooperative economics is all about what I’m doing, so you might see yourself highlighted in a few different ways as well.
Emanuel Waters: Yeah. Absolutely. We’ll have to connect again outside this about some of the events that we have coming up for the summer or not.
Melyssa Barrett: Okay. Yeah, absolutely. Let me know. You all are all over and I know we’re running a little over, so I’m sure you all are busy. I’m going to let you all go and have you all fun and enjoy yourselves. I know it’s a treat to have you guys all together at one time. Thank you so much for joining The Jolly Podcast and celebrate. Go celebrate. Thank you so much.
Courtney Tucker: Thanks, Melyssa. Thanks for inviting us.
Melyssa Barrett: All right. Be blessed. Take care. Bye-bye. Thanks for joining me on The Jali Podcast. Please subscribe, so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.