Spotlight on Innovation: Lamplighter’s Inclusivity-Focused Strategy is Micro-Brewing Change
As conscious consumption continues to move the needle, this brewery’s unique focus provides a model any brand can follow
At Lamplighter Brewing Co., a micro-brewery located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, diversity, inclusivity, and support are more than buzzwords. A central tenet of the six-year-old brewery, which boasts two tap rooms and strong distribution across the Northeast, Lamplighter’s Crafted for All commitment means promoting diversity and inclusivity is central to the producer’s operations every day.
“We strive to emphasize and encourage community and creativity throughout our operations – from our space, to our events, to our beer names and labels, and everything in between,” says cofounder Cayla Marvil, who launched Lamplighter with her husband after relocating to Cambridge from Vermont.
The rise of conscious consumers has been one of the leading trends of the past two years, as drinks consumers are consistently choosing to support brands with ethical missions and values. As BevAlc Insights predicted in early 2021, consumer consciousness for brand values became — and continues to be — increasingly important as consumers continue to support diverse brands and social justice initiatives with their dollars.
Beyond being woman-led, Lamplighter Brewing is innovative in its range of initiatives and grassroots efforts to combat inequality. Rather than simply donating proceeds or hosting charity events at their taprooms, the Lamplighter team first engages in regular staff training on diversity and inclusivity. Those initiatives are further supported by outward-facing philanthropic work, such as involvement in the Pink Boots Society – a nationwide nonprofit that supports women in the brewing industry – and monthly community partnerships. Since opening their doors in 2016, Lamplighter has partnered with dozens of local organizations including the Cambridge Women’s Center, Food for Free, and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Coalition Association.
BevAlc Insights sat down with Marvil to discuss how she first formed and now pushes forward Lamplighter’s core philosophies, and she lets us in on how retailers and producers everywhere can become a force for good.
BevAlc Insights: Was building community and equality always a part of the Lamplighter mission or did that grow with time?
Cayla Marvil, Lamplighter cofounder: Building community and equality was always a mission of ours, though it’s certainly expanded over time. From the beginning, we set out to build a space that could become a gathering space in the neighborhood, and we also wanted to make sure everyone, regardless of identity, felt welcome. As a woman starting a brewery, I had experienced some pretty wild remarks and inappropriate behavior from my peers, and we wanted to make damn sure that Lamplighter never tolerated anything like that. Since those early days, that vision has been adopted and expanded in a wonderful way by our staff and community, and I’m really proud of the work we do and have done.
Why is it important for the drinks industry to support equity? What is the driving force behind the range of initiatives Lamplighter supports?
CM: There are very few people in this world who don’t enjoy eating and drinking, so we have quite the captive audience and a really unique opportunity to reach a wide and diverse group of people. I think it’s important that we use that platform for positive change and education. Fair treatment and equity have also long been a problem within the hospitality industry itself, so I think it’s equally important to practice what we preach and make sure that our industry and our businesses are focusing internally and addressing mistreatment, harassment, and discrimination behind the bar.
As a member of the Pink Boots society, why is it important to champion and highlight women in the beer industry?
CM: Because women are freaking awesome, and women can brew, serve, deliver, promote, and drink beer just as well as everyone else (and often even better). Women deserve to be treated fairly and kindly, no matter what industry they work in, and it feels like a no brainer to applaud their successes and support their work in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Can you elaborate on the Crafted for All Commitment?
CM: The Crafted for All Commitment is a pledge (available for all breweries and associated trades) to “create a better industry by building more inclusive, equitable, and just organizations.” Once a business commits, they are pledging that they will work on 20 action items across seven areas of organizational practices (such as recruitment, pay, and training) in order to “drive diversity and dismantle bias” in the beer industry. We committed last year when the program launched, and we tackle this commitment through several internal and external programs.
Staff participate in regular training and conversations on topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Within our neighborhood, we partner with grassroots organizations monthly and utilize our space, beer revenue, and platforms to support their work. In our city, we invite food and other business partners to collaborate on hosting events for a diverse array of audiences. And within the beer industry, we stay involved in the ongoing work of the Crafted for All and Pink Boots community. The action items provide a great framework for ongoing conversation and efforts, and I think it’s both a great place for other brands to start if they want to make a positive impact—and a great thing for retailers to look for on labels and websites if they’re seeking value-based brands.
What advice would you give to other brands looking to make a positive impact?
CM: I think it’s first helpful to identify what you value and where you want to maximize impact, otherwise it can be a bit daunting to set out and try to solve all of the world’s problems. For us, these are things like diversity and inclusion in the hospitality industry, as well as maximizing positive impact and support to disadvantaged members of our immediate community. Once you have impact areas, it’s easier to identify how you can best use your business to support, give back, and educate. And it’s okay to start small and expand as you learn more about what’s feasible and what has the most impact.
What advice would you give to retailers who want to showcase more diverse brands on their shelves?
CM: I think supporting local is a great first step, and then, of course, spending time learning about the brands you carry – who works there, what sort of events are they holding, what does their branding look like, who are they supporting and promoting, what values or missions do they share publicly. Talk to sales reps, look at websites, and skim social media. And if you find a brand that you want to carry but your wholesaler doesn’t stock, reach out to them directly and figure out how to get them on your shelves!
How has the community overall responded to Lamplighter’s mission of inclusivity?
CM: We’ve had overwhelmingly positive support and enthusiasm for our initiatives and statements on inclusivity, and I think that reflects on how wonderful our community is as a whole. We’ve also had lots of important suggestions and feedback (both externally and internally), and that’s also really appreciated; we’re not perfect, and we want to be listening and learning as we try to always do better.
Are there any myths you’d like to dispel about the beer business?
CM: We often get questions about how we view our “competition” or how we feel about being in a crowded industry, and I think folks assume that there’s a lot more animosity amongst breweries than actually exists … at all. We truly see other local breweries as friends, and you would not believe how often we’re calling each other up looking to collaborate, or for advice, or needing to borrow something. We’d be thrilled if you support us, and also will 100 percent recommend some of our favorite breweries down the street. All growth for our industry is good growth!
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