Dontá Butler is in good spirits. He is the owner of Anacostia Vodka and wholesale distribution company George Butler Spirits. Having majored in marketing at Morgan State University, he knows the importance of branding strategically.
Here, he tells the family secrets.
Tell us about your company.
George Butler Spirits was named after my grandfather who was a strong, determined family man who raised me alongside my grandmother while my mom worked night shifts during her early 20s. He didn’t have much but all that he did have he made sure the family was supported. He loved to create things with his hands as well as crafting backyard recipes for a moonshine he would let guests and family try during late-night parties. George Butler Spirits was started to help men and women like me who are involved in the beer, wine, and spirits industry create products that speak to people just like themselves. A lot of the big distribution companies control the market, which leaves little room for new and upcoming brands to grow. You see what Walmart and Target have done to some community mom-and-pop shops. I truly want to be a doorway to young talent in this industry trying to create products and brands.
Why did you create a vodka brand?
My plan is to create and develop great bourbon but vodka was the avenue to get my foot in the door, to be honest. It’s a neutral grain spirit that doesn’t need time to age so that cut some of my production cost. I always enjoyed a nice, smooth, crisp vodka so when I had the opportunity to develop a product I could call my own, I ran at the chance!
How did you come up with the name?
When I was searching for a name to call my vodka, I always would think about the area I grew up in Washington, D.C. I felt like [there were] specific areas in the city being left out of the conversation of historic neighborhoods when people came to visit D.C. I also wanted to inspire young men and women who also grew up in areas like Anacostia to realize that anything can be achieved no matter where you were raised as long as you are willing to work for it.
How has the entrepreneurial would been for you thus far?
George ButIer Spirits and Anacostia Vodka is a brand new company started solely by myself so the idea of everything being on your shoulders is a bit overwhelming but I love the challenge. It takes patience but you also cannot get complacent. The stress is there every day but anytime I hear someone supportive pushing me it instantly brings me back to life. You really have to plan your days out strategically or you will get lost in that sunken place lol, seriously though.
What makes your vodka brand unique?
Anacostia Vodka has a genuine deep rooted story which anyone who has grown up in a tough situation can relate to. The underdog that started from absolutely nothing trying to survive in a market where it’s extremely competitive is my driving force. A lot of brands you see on the shelves are not relatable and many times very confusing as to what they represent. Whenever you pick up a bottle of Anacostia Vodka, you can trust the product is great quality and the message this company is delivering is the truth.
Where can people buy your product?
Currently, at Chat’s Liquors on 8th Street SE (Barracks Row), Avery’s Bar and Lounge on H Street NE, and The Park and 14th NW D.C. Anacostia Vodka events are coming soon just sign up for all the details at GeorgeButlerSpirits.com.
What advice would you give someone who wants to create a product?
Developing Anacostia Vodka took a lot of time but understand that patience is part of the process so take your time, don’t rush. Devise a good plan. And, don’t be scared to ask for help. I’ve always wanted to do everything on my own to make me feel more accomplished but that should never be the mentality. People want to support you just have to make them believe in you.
Where would you like to see your vodka brand in the next five years?
I want Anacostia Vodka to be as big as Ben’s Chili Bowl and even the White House when you think of Washington, D.C. I also want to develop a global presence as well as provide individuals with opportunities for employment in many different fields such as marketing and production of new products. I don’t want to just stop with a vodka brand. I want multiple brands that people can be proud of and stand behind.