D.C.

Working Women: Chanel Turner creates Fou-Dre Vodka

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The first and only African-American woman to own her own vodka line lives in the D.C. area.

Chanel Turner

Chanel Turner played at Bowie State on a basketball scholarship. She now works at the Pentagon as a web developer.

But in 2009 she decided to take a big risk that started with a simple thought. Turner wanted a new kind of vodka.

"It just dawned on me, vodka isn't what it used to be and I wanted to change it," Turner says. "The burn, the harshness, the fact that people mask it to make fancy cocktails but not drink it for the product that it is."

So she invested all of her savings and created Fou-Dre Vodka.

Turner searched high and low for the perfect vodka, testing 80 formulas before finding "the one" at a distillery in South Carolina.

Fou-Dre is a play on the French word for lightning. And the dramatic purple bottle in the shape of a lightning bolt is made in France.

But Turner says the spirit world is a man's world.

"People didn't want to carry the product because it was female owned, or they didn't think we'd make it to this point because I'm a woman," Turner says.

Pop singer Sean Kingston, who happens to be Turner's cousin, is a big supporter. But she mostly credits her mother for encouraging her big move.

"She's been a very strong woman herself," Turner says. "Single parent, raised me on her own and taught me how to survive in this world on my own."

Turner says she's humbled by the support she's getting, especially in the African-American community.

"They're so proud that someone like myself took a chance to do something that most people wouldn't do," Turner says.

And she says the lesson of Fou-Dre is less about vodka and more about living a full life.

"If you have a concept or dream, take the step forward, take the leap forward," Turner says. "It might not happen overnight.... It may take some time, but have faith, believe and you can definitely achieve the goals you're trying to achieve."

Fou-Dre is in more than 30 liquor stores in the D.C. area and it's now sold in several other states and overseas in Singapore.

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