Inspired by Virgil Abloh, this former athlete is opening doors for Black entrepreneurs with his spirits brand 

Abu Mubarik August 22, 2023
Ricky Miller. Photo credit: RICKY MILLER via Forbes

Ricky Miller is the CEO of Carbonadi Vodka, a brand he established as a result of his passion for entrepreneurship. Growing up, he was heavily involved in sports but his love for art and culture impelled him to create an alcohol brand.

He prides himself as a man from humble beginnings with a knack for entrepreneurship and a hunger for creativity. Before starting his spirit business, Miller had unsuccessfully tried a previous business. However, his own unfortunate experiences with alcohol inspired him into establishing the luxury spirits brand.

“I decided to create Carbonadi as a pivot after one of my other businesses had to be shelved. It had been a dream of mine since college. I, like many others, had some horrible experiences with alcohol, and after being exposed to the good stuff, I never wanted to go back,” he told Forbes.

“I wanted to create an enjoyable and distinctive luxury spirit of my own. As a person who loves brand building and challenging the status quo, I saw an opportunity to enter the vodka category with a premium taste and offering that rang with the same tone as a Dom Perignon or Armand De Brignac. I felt that if I could create a special liquid, and borrow quality cues from adjacent luxury sectors, all while authentically injecting culture and creativity into the space through dope collaborations, activations, and experiences, then I could make an impact in the industry,” he said.

According to Miller, he was also inspired by fashion designer and entrepreneur Virgil Abloh, whose desire to help people fulfill their dreams and his ego-less approach to everything and love for all cultures resonated with Miller more than he could ever imagine. In this regard, Miller is not keeping the skills he used to achieve success in the spirit world to himself. He said he would like to create opportunities for people who look like him to pursue careers in luxury wine and spirits and inspire the next generation of Black professionals to see the spirits industry as a career pathway.

Per Pronghorn research, while Black Americans represent 12% of alcohol consumers across categories, they make up just 7.8% of the sector’s labor force and 2% of executives in the industry.

As Miller seeks to reverse this, the former professional athlete said he created his alcohol brand to appeal to those who enjoy the merging of luxury and culture.

“Carbonadi is for those who, like myself, enjoy a lifestyle at the intersection of luxury and culture. Those who can enjoy a day out on a Riva Yacht on Lake Como sipping ice-cold Carbonadi martinis with Louis Armstrong coming out the speakers, the same they can enjoy a 150-person Kendrick Lamar (as an opening act) show at the Roxy Theater in Hollywood with the aroma of spilled beer filling the room. This is what I enjoy, and when I can have both those vibes in the same place, I’m happy,” he said.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: August 22, 2023


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