Richard Bloomfield, Greg Williams, & Zack Day
Black / African American
Economic Power, Health & Food, Race & Equity
Growth, Scaling, and Investments, Business Models and Financials, Marketing and Communications, Product / Service Design
Funkytown Brewery makes high-quality beer with the preferences and palate of Black people, women, and minority communities in mind to warmly introduce them to an industry they have been excluded from. The imagery, font style, and wording come from a perspective that is seldom seen in the industry and is intentional to resonate with the market we’ve targeted. Through experiential marketing events, collaborations with community service organizations, restaurants, and other venues, Funkytown Brewery has built a foundation within the larger Chicago population while changing the perception, feelings, and access to craft beer for historically under-served groups.
We, the owners of Funkytown Brewery, Richard, Greg, and Zack are childhood friends that attended school together starting in elementary and progressing through college at Grambling State University in Louisiana. We reached a point in our lives where we thought, are we going to create our own business or just never try? We were drinking craft beer when these conversations were happening, so it was an instant link. At that time, we still didn’t know our beer styles or flavor profiles well. We just purchased the stuff with dope labels and knew about some of the local Chicago favorites.
Once we decided we were going to open a brewery, we saw the homebrewing equipment we needed, put some money together, and bought about $1400 worth of supplies and equipment. From there, we started to brew, learn, and make progress.
In 2019, we attended Freshfest, the nation's only Black craft beer festival (at the time). There were 30+ Black breweries represented, along with seminars and coaching for all interested in breaking into the industry. This gave us insight into “contract brewing,” which is the most feasible method for a homebrewer to break into the industry without a large amount of capital at our disposal. From there, we modeled our business plan for contract brewing and were able to land a spot, brewing with Pilot Project Brewing in July 2021.