The Capitalize the B Campaign: An interview with JAWBREAKING + Wicked Weed

Photo by Julia Lindholm with Wicked Weed Brewing

I love a good collabo — especially those where local breweries engage with Black History Month. One example of this is Black is Beautiful beer, an initiative launched in Texas last May that’s spread across the country to involve DSSOLVR, Hi-Wire, Upcountry, and Wicked Weed. The purveyors of some of my favorite sour beers, Wicked Weed has also teamed up with third-generation Ashevillian Jefferson Ellison + his media company, JAWBREAKING Creative Agency, for “Capitalize the B,” a new campaign designed to normalize Blackness within the craft beer movement

Photo by Julia Lindholm with Wicked Weed Brewing

Featuring interviews, images + moreas well all-Black talent, music, and executive production — the campaign is both visually stunning + unusual. Naturally, I wanted to know more, so I spoke to Jefferson + Rachel Dudasik, Wicked Weed’s Community Engagement & Communications Manager. Here’s what they had to say: 

Tell us about the Capitalize the B campaign. 

Rachel  — When we were thinking about Black History Month and what to do, we realized quickly it wasn’t about us.  Because of some personal connections and ‘around town’ knowledge of Jefferson and JAWBREAKING, it was a no-brainer to have a conversation. Some of our team members had attended one of his trainings and reminded us of the first lesson of allyship, “Don’t speak for people.”

Jefferson— The thought process was: What is it that I’m looking for from brands when it comes to engaging with me as a Black consumer? I want to feel a part of their story and I want to feel seen and welcomed. All of that happens when authentic representation happens, so we wanted to bring that into the Wicked Weed world. The pitch I sent to Rachel said something along the lines of “Let’s not just celebrate Black History, let’s learn from it,” meaning that we know that Black people and Blackness are not always visible. So let’s take up space and showcase Blackness in a way that feels elevated, honest, and normal.

 

Photo by Julia Lindholm with Wicked Weed Brewing

If/how will this campaign end/evolve?

Rachel — The campaign made sense to unveil during Black History Month, but it certainly doesn’t end then. The important takeaway is that normalizing Blackness in the beer community needs to happen, and that conversation will certainly continue.  

Why is it important to showcase Black voices in craft beer, both broadly + in Asheville?

Rachel  — The narrative of craft beer revolves heavily around creativity and innovation, neither of which are possible without also including BIPOC voices and insight. The inclusive ideals Asheville is known for don’t have a leg to stand on without including their voices and also amplifying and supporting them. When we say beer is for everyone, we mean it.

Photo by Julia Lindholm with Wicked Weed Brewing

How does the Capitalize the B campaign differ from other campaigns, such as the Black is Beautiful beer?

Rachel — “Capitalize the B is much bigger than just beer. It was about us realizing as a company of privilege, it was more important to let go of some control and use our platform to hand over the microphone

We participated in the Black is Beautiful beer collaboration last summer as a nod of support to Marcus Baskerville at Weathered Souls, one of only a handful of Black brewmasters in the US, to benefit the YMI Cultural Center. That was an important conversation because it isn’t addressed often enough and it deserves to be highlighted. But that was only one small piece of these efforts, we knew there was so much more work to be done. We just released a second iteration of that beer as part of our “Beers that Build” program, alongside this campaign called ‘Black is Still Beautiful’ which benefits the Center for Participatory Change. I can’t wait for what​’s to come!

Wanna see a sneak peek at the campaign’s final video installment? Check it out here. And don’t miss the previously released videos either — catch them here