When Myriam Jean-Baptiste and her husband, Stevens Charles, gave up their 9 to 5 jobs to concentrate fully on their business, many faulted their decision and thought they were “crazy” to give up their day jobs. Probably the fear of the ‘naysayers’ was influenced by the lack of Black representation in the sector they were venturing into.
In spite of people’s fears, Jean-Baptiste co-founded LS Cream Liqueur with her husband. The liquor was inspired by a traditional Haitian beverage known as cremas or kremas. According to MSNBC, the drink is made with ingredients including condensed milk, spices, and clairin, a clear moonshine-like liquor derived from Haiti’s native sugarcane.
Before Jean-Baptiste started her liquor business, she had no prior experience, likewise her husband. Both partners had corporate experience. She was formerly a business development manager; he was a mortgage specialist for a major bank. However, their inexperience did little to affect their resolve to venture into the liquor and spirit business and to make way for others who look like them.
Jean-Baptiste quit her job during the pandemic to concentrate on their venture. She told MSNBC that, “Although I was always involved with LS Cream and started this journey with Stevens, I was in a position to either continue in the corporate world or turn this into an opportunity to commit fully to the business and join forces with my husband. With faith and a common vision, I then embarked on this journey with him 100 percent.”
Jean-Baptiste and her husband are in their late 30s with two children. To ensure that they had money to keep their business running, the couple had to change their lifestyle and even made a decision to sell their house and invest part of it in the business.
“We were living a very comfortable life and had a nice house in the suburbs,” Jean-Baptiste explained. “We made the decision to sell our house, move in with my mother-in-law, and invest our savings in the business.”
And to grow their customer base for the liquor and know more about the alcohol industry, Jean-Baptiste and her husband attended a networking function hosted by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America. “We shook hands, made connections, and basically asked for help while explaining to people what we were trying to do,” said Jean-Baptiste.
This helped the couple locate businesses like suppliers necessary to produce, bottle and distribute LS Cream. They subsequently submitted a formula to the government for approval; that process can take more than a year to see the light of day, according to MSNBC.
This was not the only challenge for Jean-Baptiste and her partner. They were told once that the marketing for their product was “too Black.”
Nonetheless, the duo persisted. “We believed in LS Cream so much that we were willing to sacrifice to see it come to fruition,” said Jean-Baptiste. Today, their product has grown in popularity and it is rapidly scaling.
LS Cream Liqueur has expanded to additional markets including Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and the District of Columbia.