Karen Hoskin has been an entrepreneur for over 20 years—most recently as the owner and founder of craft distillery Montanya Distillers and as co-founder of Zoetica, a social entrepreneurship company focused on zero-waste products and consulting. She currently owns and helps operate both businesses.
Karen speaks frequently across the nation and overseas about environmental and social sustainability in business, the importance of gender diversity in the workplace, bar/restaurant ownership and leadership, premium rum, and the art of craft distilling. She is known for being a leader and breaking the glass ceiling in the traditionally male-dominated profession of distilling.
More than 20 years of experience.
Karen was born in New York City and raised in a tiny town in rural Maine. From her early days living next to a small pond in Winthrop, Maine in the 1980s, Karen often debated with her attorney father about the environment and their responsibility to preserve it. At the time, the EPA was trying to preserve Black Duck habitat on her family’s newly acquired pond. Karen was only in 7th grade, but she was galvanized to protect the duck. She and her dad ended up on opposite sides of the argument about how far they should build their family house from the water’s edge in order to preserve nesting areas.
So began Karen’s lifelong passion to be a good steward of her surroundings, whether as a volunteer or as a business owner. (Eventually her father became a board member of the National Audubon Society and a vocal advocate for bird species on waterways in Maine too!)
Karen has also had a lifelong passion for travel, and it’s taken her far from home to India, Nepal, China and many places in between. She learned to speak Hindi and Urdu and pursued a Master of Science degree that lead her to rural regions as an epidemiologist and public health advocate for almost a decade. Karen began to understand that the “developed” world was not so “developed” after all—that Americans were actually setting a terrible example with their insatiable appetite for throw-away things.
I believe in “show, don’t tell.” I don’t just want to talk about what I believe in. I want every aspect of my lifestyle and daily behavior to demonstrate it.
- Karen Hoskin
Since 1998, Karen has focused most of her energy on running businesses with an eye toward better social responsibility and environmental sustainability. She owned a design firm from 1998 to 2009, specializing in brand building and brand identity. In 2008, she decided to focus all that energy on her own brand—a craft rum distillery in Colorado. Eleven years later, the company ships rum to 44 states, Canada and Europe, and recently secured minority investment from Constellation Brands, which Karen will leverage to build the company’s distribution footprint worldwide.
As a passion project, she and a partner started Zoetica in late 2017. The social entrepreneurship company arose from their commitment to live zero waste in daily life and travel. It was incredibly hard, but once Karen and her partner developed a system, so many people they met asked how they could get it too—and Zoetica was born.
Throughout each of these endeavors, Karen focused on green building, social responsibility as an employer, reducing consumption and waste at all levels of her businesses, and managing her overall environmental footprint. While many companies place profits as the top line objective, Karen has always been willing to accept a slower growth model in order to make each outcome beneficial to more than just herself.
Karen deeply believes that the best way to advocate for a healthy, sustainable community is to be a meaningful employer, a model of sustainability, a voice for women and minorities in the workplace, and a philanthropist. She now speaks frequently on these topics at a wide range of venues and events for many different organizations.
-Bachelor of Arts, Williams College, Williamstown, MA
-Master of Science Degree, University of Colorado
-Currently enrolled in the WSET Level 2 and Level 3 Spirits Certification
Learn how Karen can support your event or podcast:
Sustainable Business and Zero Waste
When Karen talks about sustainable business practices and zero waste, she speaks from experience. Her social entrepreneurship company, Zoetica, provides consumers with zero-waste alternatives to single use trash and offers consulting on waste elimination. Her craft rum distillery, Montanya Distillers, is a certified B-Corp and meets the highest standards for sustainable business practices. She knows how to get results.
Gender Diversity in the Workplace
Karen is known for breaking the glass ceiling in the world of rum distilling, and she remains committed to growing her business Montanya Distillers with an eye for diversity. She backs up the company’s equal opportunity policy with real hires of qualified minorities and women, and champions women in distilling through networks like the Women of the Vine and Spirits. She is a well-respected speaker on this topic, and is helping to move the needle in the field. Authority Magazine agrees.
American Rum and Craft Distilling
The rum industry has evolved immensely in the time that Karen has owned and operated Montanya Distillers. Rum has gone from being seen as a beachside beverage to a premium spirit. Karen has been at the forefront of that transformation, distilling her high-altitude premium craft rum that has won more than 20 gold and silver medals as well as Best in Class designations, American Rum of the Year in Berlin, and American Craft Distiller of the Year. Karen was the first female recipient of the Bubble Cap Award for Excellence from the American Distilling Institute.
Karen brings a bottomless passion for both rum and sustainable business practices to her presentations. Her personal story of her journey to rum is compelling and authentic, and her belief that a successful rum company cannot exist divorced of environmental stewardship is inspiring. Attendees walk away with both a better understanding of rum and a sense of optimism about the future of the category.
— Martin Cate, World-renowned rum expert, owner and creator of Smuggler’s Cove, and a James Beard Award-winning author.
Karen Hoskin is a very strong voice in the spirits industry. We reached out to Karen to lead a new initiative called Women Leading Rum at rum educational events throughout the nation. She gathers leading female speakers in the industry to be part of her panels. Her symposia about gender, sustainability and the craft spirits industry are full of profound and honest information, and are very well received by our attendees.
— Federico J. Hernández, Co-founder of the Miami Rum Conference
I just wanted to thank you for coming to speak to our class on Monday, it was incredibly informative and inspiring. It was really impactful to take what we had been learning in class and see what we've read about in real life applications. I am so impressed by your perseverance and strength, and I strive to emulate your drive in whatever career I hope to pursue. You changed my outlook on women in business as well as the alcohol industry. The way you support women, especially your employees, inspires me to do the same one day.
— Francesca Grandonico, Student atColorado College
As a speaker, Karen is energetic, engaging and inventive. She never speaks from a script but speaks from the heart with passion and intellect about her topics, well informed by scientific data.
Connect with Karen Hoskin:
For all bookings contact Karen:
karen at montanyadistillers.com
karen at zoeticalife.com
karenhoskin at me.com
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