2021 Honorees

Dee Charlemagne


“I love creating experiences that get people to mix — no pun intended.”

Tell us about where you work and what you do there.

I am co-founder of AVEC, a line of premium better-for-you mixers. Made with real juice and natural ingredients, AVEC has 80-90% less sugar than traditional mixers. For example, think of a ginger beer or a margarita mix but healthier and without all the nasties. We launched June 2020, and with only my co-founder and I as full-time employees, I do a mix of everything! My favorite jobs, though, are talking to customers, finding new partnerships, and creating content — recipes, stories, illustrations, and more to share with our community.

How would you describe yourself?

I love creating experiences that get people to mix — no pun intended. I love a good time as much as a good challenge, and am all about having honest conversations about the way people see the world. I am a child of West Indian immigrants (my mom and dad are from Jamaica and St. Lucia), so I was raised in a culture that was all about celebration and connecting over food and beverage. I grew up in the Bronx, NY,  had the opportunity to go to fancy Ivy League schools, and love celebrating the diversity of thought and experiences that happen when I bring those two communities together. I currently live in Harlem, but have lived in Hong Kong and London — I dream of post-COVID travels!

What is your leadership style?

I like learning and growing, so my “style” is to try to surround myself with people smarter than me! In terms of leadership, I like to see all perspectives and will play contrarian just to see another side.

What do you think has been your biggest professional success so far?

Launching AVEC. Alex, my co-founder and I had to decide in March 2020 if we wanted to launch. As first-time founders who really only raised a small amount of capital, it is easy to wonder if you are getting things right and to feel like the people with bigger budgets and teams will do it better. But, in constraints comes creativity — we launched and had a print piece in the New York Times on day one, sold out of our first batch of product ahead of schedule, and even put together a mini launch event with a 6-feet apart bar. Glad we didn’t let our first-timer fear stop us!

Pattern art Pattern art

What goals do you have for 2021?

A big goal for 2021 is to be more patient. I have been used to moving at a fast pace my whole life. If there is anything the pandemic has taught me is that sometimes the world slows down and you need to be patient!

What do you think is the next big trend in eCommerce?

Value won’t just be about price and quality — it will be about societal values, social influence, and transparency — online will be used to tell the deeper stories about a business.

Name an eCommerce brand you admire and why.

Maude. The branding is beautiful, the products are great, and sex is still a taboo topic that deserves discussion. I love The Maudern, their content hub. Plus the team there is SO fun, kind, generous, and smart! They are also based in Brooklyn so they are our neighbors.

What do you geek out over?

Hosting tips — seriously I have a document of event and party ideas!