Oklahoma woman launches own hard liquor brand, shares struggles of launching a business

TULSA, Okla. — As we move through Women’s History Month, a Tulsa entrepreneur says it’s important to see women in a male-dominated industry.

Tanner Conklin is 26, and is the only woman to own a hard liquor brand in Oklahoma. She says she didn’t realize she held this distinction until she launched her own vodka.

She said she was scared at first.

“When I first figured that out, I thought it was interesting and fun. Then, I was scared because it’s more pressure to be this big inspiration to people, when I’m just me,” said Conklin.

Conklin initially began her career as a hair stylist. She tried to purchase a liquor store during the pandemic, but the deal fell through. The experience inspired her to create her own brand of liquor called Slight Spirits.

It took Conklin about a year to develop the drink. It was launched on Jan. 22 and immediately sold two pallets. However, Conklin believes her runs into obstacles because she’s a woman.

“A lot of the people I speak with are older men, and they have this way of speaking to me. It’s very much ‘look at this silly little girl and her silly little girl dreams,’” said Conklin.

However, Conklin says it’s important to have a female voice in the hard liquor industry.

“I think its important to have women in all industries, especially the male dominated ones because it gives you a fresh a new perspective. Men aren’t the only people who drink, tons of women drink. I wanna have something that makes me feel powerful and strong, like men’s whiskey,” said Conklin.

Slight Spirits can be found at more than 80 bars and restaurants across Oklahoma. One of those vendors is here in Tulsa.

Mandy Lauck is the manager of Bramble Breakfast and Bar in Tulsa’s Pearl District. She says people really like Slight Spirits because it’s a local women-owned brand.

“They love the local story, then it’s a woman on top. That’s important for so many people. We are women-owned, women-run. We just really love women-run businesses,” said Lauck.

Conklin plans to expand out of the Sooner State soon, especially as more retailers and restaurants ditch Russian vodka. Conklin also says she plans on donating to a charity benefiting Ukraine as sales rise.

“I will soon launch merchandise like shirts and candles. Some of the profits from that will go to the Ukraine. That way I can feel better about saying, ‘buy my vodka’ because it’s not Russian. I’m not profiting off that, I can give back.”

RELATED>>>Mother Road Market shops highlighting women-owned businesses for Women’s History Month