Chanel Turner says her realization that many drinkers view vodka as something to be masked, inspired her to create something that “could be consumed naked.”
By day, the 29-year-old Queens, New York native works as a government contractor. But since 2009, she’s been using much of her free time to create, market and sell her own vodka.
It started with about six months of research into what it would take to create a vodka, what kind of base would be used, what kind of distillery would work best and a legion of other considerations. Working with collaborators in South Carolina, the basis for FOU-DRE came out of an eight-month experiment. Turner selected the 88th formula that was sent to her to test and thus her brand, an 80-proof vodka that has flavors of pomegranate, ginger, kiwi and lime infused in it during the distillation process — the flavors in many vodkas are added later, she says — gave her something different.
Turner started selling in January and FOU-DRE is now available in the Maryland/D.C. area. Her company just expanded into New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Look for her Saturday at the g.life expo from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park (2660 Woodley Park Rd., N.W.) where she’ll be offering samples and selling bottles for $35. Visit fou-dre.com for a list of local spirits shops where FOU-DRE can be purchased.
“This is my baby, this is what I would love to do full time,” Turner, a lesbian, says. “It’s been a family-funded business. My mother helped with a lot of the funding. I have a staff of about 10 people helping me with this and yes, I would like to give it my full attention if possible at some point.”
Turner came to Washington to go to college on a basketball scholarship at Bowie State University when she was 18.
She’s single and lives in Upper Marlboro, Md. She enjoys computer programming, working out, cooking and relaxing on the beaches of Jamaica in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been in the life since the age of 16. The hardest person to tell was definitely my mother.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Describe your dream wedding.
That would be to have all family members present. It will be a wonder if that happens.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Bullying. I grew up witnessing kids from all different walks of life being bullied for various reasons. This is something that really got under my skin and I always felt the need to defend them.
What historical outcome would you change?
The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The passing of Michael Jackson.
On what do you insist?
I insist that people practice truth and honesty no matter what they feel the outcome may be.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud.”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“The Come Up”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Remain true to self and not become a statistic.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe in the heavens, not necessarily in hell. I believe that beyond life here on Earth, there is a paradise. Once our flesh leaves this earth and returns back to dust, our spirit lives on within this paradise.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
That we can’t change people’s minds but hopefully we can change perspectives. The goal should be to get people to understand us, but they don’t always have to agree.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
I would run across hot coals to save someone’s life.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Just because I like women doesn’t mean I like ALL women.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
Not sure if this would count, but I enjoyed watching Kerry Washington in Spike Lee’s “She Hate Me.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
That would be American football.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Best Athlete Award in high school
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
I wish I had known the power of economics and the stock market at age 18.
Washington gives me solitude. I get a little bit of the city life like New York and I have the option of the suburban life like Florida.