Crown Royal has partnered with beauty and lifestyle creator and co-founder of FORVR Mood, Jackie Aina. With the success of the brand’s Crown Royal Blackberry Flavored Whisky, Aina was the perfect selection to kick off its summer campaign. FORVR Mood garnered a waitlist of over 45,000 customers before its launch in 2020. Her love for the new flavor inspired her original curation of the limited-edition Crown Royal Blackberry x FORVR Mood candle, Berry on Top.

This exclusive new scent was unveiled at the Crown Royal Blackberry Stand, an adult twist on the traditional lemonade stand. Coupled with the partnership and tying in Aina’s entrepreneurial spirit, the Crown Royal Blackberry Stand will provide a platform for rising founders via the brand’s collaboration with 501(c)(3) organization Black Girl Ventures Foundation.

Black Girl Ventures Foundation is dedicated to providing underrepresented founders access to community, capital and capacity building to meet business milestones leading to economic advancement through entrepreneurship. Crown Royal’s partnership with FORVR Mood and Jackie Aina is rooted in the support of the Black Girl Ventures Foundation. To further their efforts, Crown Royal will donate $50,000 to Black Girl Ventures Foundation from the Crown Royal Generosity Fund, where half of the donation will support the BGV Pitch Program.

Ahead of the stand’s debut, Blavity spoke with Aina about the partnership, what it means for her small business, and how helping others is her passion.

Congratulations on your partnership with Crown Royal! Tell us how this came about.

Jackie Aina: So, first of all, this is FORVR Mood’s first co-branded collab, which is huge for us because, obviously,Crown Royal is a major legacy brand. And they reached out to us, which was a huge deal and definitely caught us off guard because we’re like, ‘Whoa, we’re still like newbies in the game; we’re still a small business.’ And obviously every opportunity, big or small, matters. But this is particularly monumental for us. And they basically just said they were familiar with me. They already knew about my work and me as a creator, me as a Black founder. They knew about the brand. They knew about me and Dennis, my co-founder. And they like everything about the brand, the passion behind it, and they felt that we could embody the campaign in this partnership that we want to do. 

And so they basically told us about the Crown Royal Blackberry Flavor Whisky, which is delicious, by the way, and it already existed before this partnership came into fruition. But they came to us, and they said they wanted to create something inspired by that. And they really gave us creative freedom. And naturally, we were like, ‘Well, we have to create a candle, of course.’ And so we tried the whisky, and because our brand is FORVR Mood, what you’re smelling has to embody mood or a vibe. And we really wanted to kind of lean into what inspired the flavor of the blackberry-flavored whisky and how we can embody that imprint in scent. 

And so we came up with our signature collab, Candle Berry, and it quite literally hits every point that is in the flavor of the whisky. It actually has whisky notes in it. It smells delicious. First of all, it’s just as delicious as the flavor of the whisky. And it also has some vanilla notes. So you get this kind of creamy, slightly boozy scent to the candle. But alsothere’s that blackberry fruity, almost slightly jammy, twist to it. It just smells delicious. It’s absolutely a scent that you can burn and enjoy in the summer while you’re sipping on the Crown Royal Blackberry Flavored Whisky. 

What is the vibe that you want people to feel when they light the candle? 

JA: We definitely wanted something that embodies the summer because the drink itself is kind of summer-coated, and we wanted to lean into that. We thought, ‘What’s something that we can burn outside?’ A lot of people don’t know this, but you can burn candles outside. Many of my followers were shocked by that. 

This is something you can light up during the barbecues while you’re sipping the whisky and you’re outside at the backyard boogie. It’s perfect for the 4th of July. My birthday’s in August, so it’s definitely the season of just being out, traveling with the candle, traveling with the scent. And it’s something that you can have while you’re sitting outside and sipping on your favorite cocktail.

What would you say your signature drink is this summer? 

JA: It’s actually a signature drink that Crown Royal put me on to. So they have a Crown Royal Blackberry lemonade kind of mixture. The whisky itself is phenomenal. It’s really good and very flavorful. It really doesn’t take much to kick it up a notch and enhance it even more because it’s so good on its own. But a little bit of lemonade, a couple slices of fresh lemon, maybe even throw in some other berries. I really like fruit, so the fruit drink combo works for me.

How does this partnership with Crown Royal expand your brand?

JA: The fact that they came to us was a big deal. Like, oh my God. As a small business co-founder and as a Black entrepreneur, just being recognized means so much. As much as people know me from social media, being recognized in the business world is still very, very challenging, even with the followers I have. 

When people see me as the established one, and they think I have all my ducks in a row, but I have challenges, too. I still have so much more to accomplish. So, the fact that they came to us was really monumental in itself. But what’s also really, really cool about this particular partnership and also very rare — it’s kind of probably a first for me — this is the first partnership with this really big charity tie-in. 

So with this partnership, Crown Royal also introduced us to a charity called Black Girl Ventures, which also helps fund and provide resources to other Black founders and up-and-coming marginalized entrepreneurs, which is so important because I know firsthand all of the challenges and pitfalls of doing things on my own. So, to be able to do a partnership and also help other people is just a chef’s kiss.