Charlestonians Looking for Business, Cultural Ties with Barbados – Charleston City Paper

Charleston immigration attorney Toni Gilliard resisted a push for 20 years from family and friends to turn her homemade rum punch into a business. She relented in late 2019 as she inhaled the strong aroma of rum during a tour of the Mount Gay distillery in Bridgetown, Barbados.

The goosebumps rising on her arms during the tour seemed to be proof the spirits wanted her to venture into the alcohol business. Early this year, she launched Tipsy Lady Cocktails at Kiawah Spirits on Kiawah Island and liquor stores statewide, including Total Wines & More. The product also is sold online to consumers in 38 markets.

“It was clear as day to me this is what I am supposed to do to honor the spirits,” said Gilliard, a 2001 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law. “For me, this is an assignment from my ancestors and a way to inspire other people, women of color in particular, to take leadership roles” in the alcohol business, said the Bronx, New York-born Gilliard, who has family roots in Barbados and Mount Pleasant.

She said she wants to take Tipsy Lady Cocktails internationally so she can place her brightly colored four-pack 6.8-ounce cans of rum cocktails on shelves in Barbados. She will be among a group of about 50 South Carolinians who will leave Wednesday for a seven-day trip to Barbados organized by the Barbados and the Carolinas Legacy Foundation, which promotes the country’s historical ties with Charleston.

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