Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Chris Henley. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Chris, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Any thoughts around creating more inclusive workplaces?
Walk into a room. Who do you see?
Do you see people you can relate to?
People that look like you, with your interests?
I didn’t any time I walked into meetings or education seminars.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
When I moved to Dallas I fell in love with the cocktail scene. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I’d be concocting the drinks I would see on these menus. Tiny bottles of who-knows what. Strangely named fruit, or herbs, or vegetables; I didn’t know the difference. Cordials or aperitifs that – well forget that; I had no clue what that meant. I was lucky enough to fall into a job behind the bar. And I loved being creative with flavors and ratios and presenting those things in a way that our guests would find intriguing or tasty and make them ask questions and come back for more. I kept finding myself in jobs, constantly learning new things. Eventually running the exact bars that made my jaw drop so many years ago.
But I noticed two things.
First, people craved more information about cocktails and spirits and glassware and ice and methodology and whatever was in that tiny little bottle. People love things in tiny mysterious bottles.
Second, there was rarely anyone in the room that looked like me. As I came into leadership roles I wanted advice from other women on how to navigate the scene. We don’t like to talk about it but it’s very easy for women to get stereotyped into roles, especially in our industry. Women are usually perceived as sexy, or bitchy, or even slutty. These traits aren’t often associated with success or respect, things we need in leadership. Think about other places – a bank, hospital, school – there is generally another person a woman can look up to for advice. In hospitality it’s easy to get aged out.
Enter, Betty Cocktail. A name that reflected my love of the beverage industry with a name that hopefully conveyed strength, wholesomeness, and that a woman was running the show.
By the way, there’s nothing wrong with being SEXY; but it’s when it’s the only expectation from our industry that we have a problem!
What’s been the best source of new clients for you?
Ninety-five percent of my new clients are referrals from current clients. I absolutely do not work with clients that do not align with an inclusive and empowering standard for anyone involved in an event or project. And I’m very proud of that.
What do you think helped you build your reputation within your market?
Well that’s a loaded question – because, what IS my reputation? I’ve got quite the reputation for making zany cocktails, primarily fueled by my multiple medical problems that prohibit me from eating like everyone else. For example, a few years ago, an intense craving for burgers led me to create a menu based on key condiments on a burger. The four inspirations were mustard, ketchup, pickles, and, yep, mayonnaise.
But I hope the flip side is that I’m notorious for fueling kindness, inclusiveness, education, and lifting each other up. I think I reach out a little more to women, especially younger women, because I feel myself in them. But I never ever want to exclude anyone.
And for many years I didn’t know why I was so passionate about it. I realized I was seeking to fill a huge void I’d felt since childhood. I wanted a woman to be my advocate, cheerleader, and support!
- Website: www.bettycocktail.com
- Instagram: @bettycocktail
- Facebook: Betty Cocktail
- Linkedin: Chris Henley
- Yelp: email@example.com