Photos and Bios

Sustainable Business and Zero Waste

Karen Hoskin has been operating environmentally sustainable businesses—Montanya Distillers, a craft distillery, bar, and restaurant, and Zoetica, a lifestyle product line for zero-waste living—for more than a decade. Karen’s connection to stewardship has been a lifelong passion, but it becomes most meaningful to her when she goes beyond talk and into action as a business owner with 25 employees. It takes a daily commitment to live the ideals of the triple bottom line (people, environment, and profits), but this commitment helps Karen sleep at night as a business owner. She knows she is taking care of impacts up and downstream of her companies, all day every day.

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Gender Diversity in the Workplace

When Karen began the craft distillery Montanya Distillers in 2008, she was the only female in a male-dominated industry in the US. This impacted her ability to gain respect, buy materials, sell her products, be safe from sexual harassment, and be taken seriously in her work. It also impacted the willingness of banks to lend her money, the willingness of investors to get involved, and venture capital firms to say yes (in 2018, female founders received 2% of venture capital in America and 4% of bank financing).

Karen watched male colleagues with smaller and less successful companies access resources regularly denied to her. Yet she persisted, stayed focused, and refused to let circumstances deny her success. Now, after more than a decade in business, her company produces double-digit growth annually, and she is one of the larger private-sector employers in her community. She is known for training and mentoring women nationally, and she is the founder of The Women’s Distillery Guild, which is now part of Women of the Vine and Spirits (WOTVS). Karen leads the Women in Distilling group at WOTVS.

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American Rum and Craft Distilling

Karen Hoskin is well known as a vanguard of the rebirth of American Rum. When she started the craft distillery Montanya Distillers in the Rocky Mountains in 2008, few people knew there was a strong American rum tradition, not to mention a mountain tradition. Craft cocktails were not yet a major US trend and rum was considered the wild west of spirits. Karen has helped change that perception, steering the distillery to accomplish double-digit growth every year. In 2019, that success helped the company secure minority investment from Constellation Brands, which Karen will leverage to build the distribution footprint worldwide.

Karen continues to have a strong hand in inspiring the US market to respect and love American Rum, see the financial viability of craft cocktails, put rum into the best of these cocktails, and to understand the high mountain rum tradition. She is a respected speaker and industry leader on all aspects of distilling science, distilling business, mixology, bar and restaurant business, sustainability, and beyond.  

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