Soul Food Seltzer: A Chat with Danica Dias of Grown Folks


Tell White Claw to hit the road. There’s a new seltzer in town and it’s not just marketed towards young, white millenials. Grown Folks, the brainchild of Danica Dias, is a soul food-inspired beverage line with an handful of hard seltzer flavors, as well as beer. The founder grew up in a Louisiana Creole family and saw a space in the market for something new, yet timeless. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Dias got the idea to craft alcoholic beverages inspired by her family’s love of soul food, and thus, Grown Folks was born.

With a 20-year background in the food, beverage and hospitality space, Dias was primed to introduce new flavors to the scene. Grown Folks currently sells three signature flavors of hard seltzer: Peach Cobbler, Ambrosia, and Key Lime. Additionally, Grown Folks offers an American Light Lager, Front Porch. With hot days on mind and refreshing drink in hand, these libations are primed for summer sipping.

We chatted with Dias to get a peek into the inspiration behind the Grown Folks brand, its plans for expansion, and the importance of having diverse voices in the alcohol industry.

What made you want to create a soul food-inspired line of drinks? And why hard seltzer in particular?

As a food & beverage veteran, I felt alienated by the existing alcohol products that did not reflect my cultural background or taste preferences. Inspired by my late Grandma’s soul food recipes, I decided to create an alcoholic beverage that featured the familiar flavors of Black culture, such as Peaches N Dumplin. I saw a huge market potential for multicultural products, especially among the diverse and growing Gen Z consumers. I also wanted to challenge the hard seltzer category, which was dominated by white millennial brands that recycled the same artificial fruit flavors, and offer a quality product that appealed to a wider and more inclusive audience.

How do your seltzers differ from others currently on the market?Our flavors are unique and delicious. They reflect my family’s heritage and cuisine, based on soul food and sweetness. No other liquid product on the market offers these flavors. Our branding is inclusive and authentic, with Louisiana Creole Vibes that celebrate black culture, family and southern traditions. Our seltzers are also strong (6% ABV) and natural fruit juice.

How did you come up with your flavors? 

Our three signature flavors are reminiscent of soul food dishes that have been passed down in my family for generations. These are flavors that we know and love. They bring us comfort and joy. It was a no-brainer to make this in liquid format. We will continue to innovate with new and exciting flavors, more to come.

You state on your website that you are “unapologetically prioritizing a ‘sweet’ taste profile.” Why is this? And what misconceptions do you think people might have regarding sweet beverages?

Legacy alcohol brands have been making a generalization about what Black people like for decades. This was not a positive generalization. Sweet is the only taste profile that people associate with joy, happiness and love. Yet somehow in alcohol, historically, it received a very negative association. Our positioning of unapologetically sweet allows us to authentically and proudly own our taste preferences. We like what we like. And we are not afraid to put that front and center. It was really important for us to distinguish our sweet-focused flavors. My ancestors utilized sweet flavors in many dishes that we know and enjoy. It is a familiar taste profile and a proud part of our heritage.

You also have a beer in your product line. Can you tell us about that? 

Yes, for our beer Front Porch, there is a deep connection there to my memory of my Great-Grandpa who would relax on the front porch, chewing on a piece of sugar cane in one hand, with an old school can of Budweiser in his other. The beer stays true to brand values in that it has a very intriguing corn-like sweetness. There will be more beers in the future, in line with our soul food-inspired flavors.

What have your best sellers been so far?

The seltzers are making a huge splash with our highly differentiated flavors.

Why do you think it’s important to have Black entrepreneurs in the beverage – and specifically hard seltzer – industry right now?

There is a large consumer base with tastes and preferences that have been overlooked and undervalued. We hope to be a voice for that. Our brand and flavors are representative of my background, but they are delish and taste driven. So we hope to not just become a niche player but to really unify and become a category leader with our innovative flavors for all mainstream consumers to enjoy.

What plans do you have for the future of Grown Folks?

We hope to be able to offer differentiated products in multiple food and beverage categories. And as we grow, we hope to be able to employ and uplift diverse talent, suppliers, creatives and partners into the larger ecosystem so that we are continuing to create opportunities for underserved communities.


Amanda Mactas

Amanda Mactas is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City. In addition to Beyondish, her work can be found in Time Out, Women's Health, Bella Magazine, and more.



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