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Clinton Jackson “CJ” Alexander, Aaron Joseph, and Ezra Allen, co-owners of CAnE Collective had an exciting year “on tap” for 2020. Founded in 2017, CAnE Collective helps spirit companies develop marketing opportunities.
“We started working with lots of brands, not only to curate their experiences at events, but also lead and execute their strategies,” recalled Joseph. “That’s how we got our wheels going with CanE Collective. Fast forward to 2020, and we had international, national, and local events.”
“We had a ton of things going on and really felt it was going to be our breakout year as the premier consulting group for hospitality and fun Caribbean, Afrocentric events. It was about to be the biggest year we had on the books.”
“And then this virus comes along called COVID-19 and oh my God! It completely wipes out our entire calendar. Taking it all in, we were a little deflated. It took a couple of weeks to adjust ourselves. We start talking about providing a tangible good for people to take pain away with mixture without us personally being there. We came up with developing a mixer that was specialized. Not only with fresh ingredients, but intricate and with craft flavors.”
Thus, CAnE Mixers was born. Created to bring the experience of craft bartending directly to people’s homes, the Mixers include “Guava Tiki Punch,” “Tropical Green Orchard,” “CAnE Southside,” “Smoke Pepper Poloma,” and “Passion Fruit Jalapeño.”
“We started off with our three expressions, Tropical Green Orchard, Cane Southside and then our Guava Tiki Punch,” recalled Joseph. “Initially, we started making and selling this to friends right out of my apartment. And when we did, what we learned was that people had a great affiliation and appreciation.”
“The inspiration behind the mixers was also the fact that we knew people were going to be drinking it during the pandemic. We also started doing Zoom classes during isolation. We shipped out kits, people picked up kits, and we would teach them how to make cocktails with our mixtures.”
“We also wanted to turn the opportunity into a fundraising effort to support the community. We also moved on to restaurants. And here we are. After starting all this back in March 2020, we are growing monthly. We moved from my apartment to a commercial kitchen. We put out what we are doing through social media, and it has been well received.”
“We went from doing one case of mixers to three cases of mixers and the next thing we know, we’re up to 17 cases a week, and it’s often on just pick-ups and deliveries. And then we had the opportunity to join our spirit company with a Farmer’s Market as a complement to their table. That’s when things really took off for us.”
CAnE Collective stands for Clinton Alexander n Ezra. The company offers both alcoholic and non-alcoholic mixers, and will be among the featured businesses at the “1st Annual Times Community Services’ Baltimore Maker Marketplace,” Saturday, September 18, 2021 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Coppin State University located at 2500 W. North Avenue. The event will feature products made and sold by Baltimore-based businesses.
“We have heard such wonderful, beautiful things about the event,” said Joseph, who is 40. “We’re excited to be a part of that aspect of being a 100 percent Black-owned business. The event helps us to tell our story and make personal connections.”
CAnE Collective has “blended” the right recipe for success.
“We have expanded our reach into five Farmer’s Markets on a weekly basis, as well as a considerable amount of retail locations in the Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC areas,” said Joseph. “The pandemic presented us with an opportunity. We just knew crafting was something we were passionate about and something we felt was valuable to people.
“For us, the community around us is so imperative and fundamental to everything we do. We want to embrace that. We are who we are, and that’s more than just shots.”
For more information about CAnE Collective, follow them on Facebook under www.facebook.com/thecanecollective or visit www.canecollective.com.