Tranice Watts created Lifting Lucy when she was in her early twenties, working in an industry not known for much diversity. Watts, the first Black woman to co-own and operate a craft brewery in the state of Maryland, was on a subcommittee of the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC). She noticed an area where people could do proposals for diversity, equity and inclusion.
“However, we didn't have any black or brown people, any people of color that had applied and I kind of panicked because I love CBC, I love the brewer’s association,” Watts says. “I'm like, ‘We got to find some people. I'm sure there's some experts out there that would love to talk at this conference.’”
Not knowing exactly where to start her search, she turned to Facebook.
“I reached out to just general people saying, ‘Hey, you know, we have a call for proposals. We would love for you to submit something,’ and, from that, I met two wonderful women who are now the co-founders with me of Lifting Lucy,” Watts says.
Lifting Lucy has since grown into a network of businesses, organizations and philanthropists serious about disrupting the barriers of entry and major hindrances toward the progress for Black, Indigenous and other Women of Color (BIWOC) in the brewing industry. The tax-exempt organization is committed to supporting the most underrepresented communities within brewing industry businesses, partnering with philanthropists, breweries, nonprofits and others to support BIWOC along their journey in brewing. It is dedicated to educating, promoting, connecting and strengthening the brewing industries' individual and collective efforts of increasing authentic depiction for all women of color.
The name Lucy comes from the 3.2-million-year-old female skeleton discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. She was named Lucy and is sometimes referred to as Humanity’s Mom.
Watts and Lifting Lucy recxeived a Smart Business Dealmaker of the Year Award at last year's Baltimore Smart Business Dealmakers Conference for their social impact on the brewing community.
“That was a huge deal for not only me, but for the organization,” Watts says. “I’m beyond honored and I'm extremely grateful that we were nominated, and we actually got the award. It really means a lot to us, particularly because it's a social impact award.”
The recognition meant even more to Watts and Lifting Lucy, because the Baltimore Smart Business Dealmakers Conference opened up some funding doors not previously available.
“I really can't say enough about the Smart Business Dealmakers, you know, particularly for black and brown people,” Watts says. “We're constantly saying, well, you know, If you can't find the investments or you can't go to a bank, you know, we can just have your family or friends invest. But, again, when you've been historically disadvantaged — mama don't have it, auntie doesn't have it, your sister probably doesn't have it, either. And so when you have places like Smart Business Dealmakers, you have these events where we really can network and connect and find synergies. It's incredibly important, not only just because the panels are a wealth of information for women of color like me who need that so we can take it and move on our businesses to the next level.”
Watts spoke on the Smart Business Dealmakers Podcast about creating Lifting Lucy, how they raise money to help others looking to get into the brewing industry, and what the future holds.