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Spirited Brands Closes $4.5M Seed Round

Foothill Ranch-based Spirited Brands Holdings Inc., an alcoholic beverage company inspired by Japanese and Mexican flavors, recently closed a $4.5 million seed round.

Spirited Brands didn’t identify the lead investor, only saying the person “will join the company’s board of directors.”

The company plans to put the funding toward the launch in January of its first lines of canned cocktails, dubbed Soke and Soula.

Its Soke cocktail is made with Japanese Junmai sake and will be offered in white peach, lychee, cherry blossom and yuzu ginger flavors.

The Soula cocktail is made with a handcrafted Mexican agave wine and will come in mango citrus, lime, paloma and pineapple chili flavors. Each 12-ounce can contains 5% alcohol by volume and 140 calories.

Some ready-to-drink canned cocktails, by comparison, contain over 300 calories per can, according to co-founder and President Melanie Nelson.

“It aligns with today’s consumers who want to moderate their alcohol intake,” Chief Commercial Officer Maikel van de Mortel told the Business Journal.

The company was co-founded by Nelson and Van de Mortel, as well as husband-and-wife duo Anita and Ron Goodson in 2022.

Ron Goodson, who is chief executive, worked more than 35 years as an executive at PepsiCo. Van de Mortel has spent more than three decades marketing packaged goods, including beverage brands, for advertising agencies and startups.

Chapman’s Leatherby Center Awarded $1M for DEI

Chapman University’s Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics is offering free programs to underrepresented entrepreneurs after receiving a $1 million grant.

The grant from the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA), which will be distributed over four years, will help the Leatherby Center establish an Inclusive Innovation Hub centered around diversity, equity and inclusion.

“It allows us to open our doors to the wider Orange County community so they can join all our programs at no cost,” Cynthia West, director of the Leatherby Center, told the Business Journal.

A portion of the funds will go toward the Women Rising Leadership Academy (WRLA), focused on advancing women in their careers, offered through the Brea Chamber of Commerce.

Women in Leadership

The academy includes eight workshops and five one-on-one coaching sessions at no cost to participants besides a materials fee.

The one-on-one coaching normally costs about $500 per participant but will be covered by proceeds from the CalOSBA grant.

Workshops for WRLA will take place at the Leatherby Center, which measures 7,000 square feet and has 20 project rooms.

The academy is in its second year with 77 women currently enrolled.

It was first launched in 2022 by suggestion of Lacy Shoen, chief executive of the Brea Chamber of Commerce, who was inspired by a similar program at the California State University of Fullerton.

There’s a stark shortage of women in leadership with them accounting for only 10% of corporate CEOs, according to Shoen.

“It’s absolutely a business issue,” Shoen said.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.

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