Outside of Jay-Z’s ownership in Armand de Brignac brand champagne and NBA legend Isiah Thomas’s Cheurlin brand, there is little diversity within brand ownership in the premier wine category of champagne. Despite the challenges, that didn’t stop these two Black male entrepreneurs from creating a champagne and cognac brand that emulates a life of luxury, even garnering a celebrity following.
Patrick Ductant and William Benson are the founders of Billionaire’s Row, a champagne and cognac brand officially recognized by the French government. The two men noticed the lack of diversity within the field and wanted to create a luxury brand that can stand against their competitors.
“We noticed how much money was being spent within our community but we also noticed that none of that money was going back into our community. We are looking to create economic scholarship funds for other businesses that are looking to disrupt the industry like us,” said Ductant and Benson to BLACK ENTERPRISE via email.
“Billionaire’s Row is one of the very few Black-owned champagne brands to be recognized by both the federal government in France and the United States. With us being pioneers in this, we would love to spearhead a movement for people of color to not only dominate the beverage industry but any industry where there is a void when it comes to us.”
Their advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to use their time in quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic to create things they are passionate about to ease their stress. “One beautiful thing about quarantine is that it gave us all a chance to be still, unplug, and clear our minds,” they say. “Many people found this time to think about career goals, creative plans, or even create businesses.”
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