Social Media Stars Anastasia ‘Stas’ Karanikolaou and Zack Bia Launch Sunny Vodka

It’s all the time sunny in California, because the legend goes. That saying might tackle a brand new taste with the launch of Sunny Vodka, a sprightly new spirit from social media influencers turned entrepreneurs Zack Bia and Anastasia “Stas” Karanikolaou.

Bia, a nightlife fixture and indie report label proprietor who’s (informal, NBD) pals with Drake, NBA star Kyle Kuzma and “Euphoria” standout Dominic Fike, has a cool half-million (and rising) Instagram followers. Karanikolaou is world-famous for a covetable off-the-runway wardrobe and a BFF milieu that features Kylie and Kendall Jenner. She is understood to her nearly 11 million Instagram followers as “Stassiebaby” or merely “Stas.”

Now, the 2 West Coast pals are launching a brand new enterprise, Sunny Vodka, a small-batch corn-based American-made spirit, simply in time for the lengthy overdue post-lockdown summer time events that have been promised final 12 months. The enterprise represents an rising development in enterprise: social media stars flexing their international visibility to broaden into self-owned manufacturers, slightly than merely selling different folks’s merchandise.

“[The opportunity] fell into our laps,” Karanikolaou says. “This makes a lot sense for us. We love entertaining, internet hosting get-togethers, throwing events, organizing dinners. To have the ability to have our personal line of vodka at occasions is only a dream.”

Bia, who scaled his DJ and party hosting cred right into a music label, Field Trip Recordings, echoes the sentiment. “Music and spirits, they each meet proper in the course of nightlife and occasions,” he says. “There’s crossover attraction.” His experience in producing music and nightlife occasions is seen as a pure evolution to selling what he and his companions hope would be the subsequent massive factor in spirits, particularly for youthful customers itching for return-to-normalcy celebrations.

To make certain, launching a vodka model, when the class has, for a number of years, been America’s high promoting spirit by quantity, makes a certain quantity of enterprise sense, present occasions however. Vodka gross sales notched a 4.9 % achieve in 2021, transferring from $341 million to $7.3 billion in income, based on the newest information from the Distilled Spirits Council of America. Over 78 million 9-liter circumstances of vodka have been bought within the U.S. final 12 months (up 1.6% from the 12 months prior); vodka gross sales dwarfed each different class, with ready-to-drink cocktails (36.6 million 9-liter circumstances bought) and American whiskey (29.7 million 9-liter circumstances bought) citing distant second and third locations.

“The expansion in vodka remains to be there, albeit slower than different classes,” James Morrissey, founding father of International Model Equities, says. International Model Equities, which partnered with Post Malone for his wildly successful rose, Maison No. 9, can be backing Sunny Vodka. “There’s been little or no innovation [in vodka] in recent times. The class is comparatively sleepy. Manufacturers have been sluggish to pivot and alter to the best way {that a} new period customers, like Zack and Stas, reside their lives.”

Bia and Karanikolaou acknowledge that vodka is, perhaps unfairly, getting negative attention within the wake of the Ukraine-Russia battle. “There by no means is an ideal time to do something, however you must management what you may management,” Bia notes. “In the event you maintain again on it for too lengthy, that proper second would possibly by no means come. You need to create it.”

The venture, practically two years within the making, was set to debut earlier than the information cycle took its darkish flip. Sunny Vodka, it must be famous, is distilled in South Carolina utilizing corn grown within the U.S. It launches as we speak ($24.99 per 750-ml bottle) in retail areas in California, Las Vegas, Florida and New York in addition to on-line. As an American-made spirit, it’d luck into satisfying America’s thirst for vodka whereas staying exterior the global-events fray.

So how will two of essentially the most well-known social media stars promote their new merchandise? Surprisingly (or perhaps not), they’re zigging away from anticipated strikes. Sunny’s Instagram, as lately because the day earlier than launch, was set to personal mode, had slightly below 8,000 followers, and had no posts. The bottle made some appearances over the previous 12 months within the founders’ social media, however its on-line presence wasn’t, pre-launch, arrange with splashy photographs and a filled-out grid.

As a substitute, Sunny’s staff got down to create what they name “an natural” social media technique.

Over the past 12 months, Sunny’s founders threw events with their glitterati pals and handed out disposable cameras. “Let our pals take photos all through the evening,” Bia says. “Over the course of the previous couple of months, we’ve a bunch of those nights captured in movie from everybody’s totally different perspective. These won’t ever even see the sunshine of day however that’s the type of content material we’re creating, versus ‘hey tag this, go to this hyperlink.’”

“Individuals don’t the ad-looking posts,” Karanikolaou provides. “These [candid Sunny] photographs are those that I’m most exited about. It’s simply having a very good time. Nobody is posing. It’s not staged. It’s simply us having fun with ourselves.”

Sunny’s founders are hopeful that the model will ease right into a summer time that may really feel extra optimistic than the previous two years. “Final summer time got here and went, and issues have been nonetheless bizarre,” Karanikolaou says. “This summer time, I really feel like individuals are actually beginning to really feel like issues will get again to regular. All we will do is to be hopeful.”

“Sunny is comfortable,” she provides. “We carry the sunshine wherever we go. Even when it’s raining.”

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