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Ciara on her investment and co-ownership in rum maker Ten to One

October 16, 2021, 12:00 PM UTC

Singer and songwriter Ciara might be best known for a constant string of Billboard 100 hit singles and platinum-certified albums dating back to her debut in 2004.

But she is also an avid entrepreneur. In 2019, Ciara launched Beauty Marks Entertainment (BME) as a springboard for her music, media, film, fashion, philanthropy, technology, and entrepreneurial pursuits. In 2020, Ciara, along with husband Russell Wilson, launched The House of LR&C, an e-commerce site with a mission to democratize the retail industry. The House of LR&C brands include Good Man Brand, Human Nation, and LITA by Ciara.

Ciara has held brand partnership deals with Equinox and Pandora, served as a global brand ambassador for Revlon, and sits on the board of her nonprofit, the Why Not You Foundation, which she also shares with her husband. The foundation is dedicated to education, children’s health, fighting poverty, and youth empowerment.

The Grammy-winning artist, who spoke at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit this month, recently signed on with Caribbean rum maker Ten to One as an investor, co-owner, and director. Ciara recently shared more with Fortune about her motivation to invest in the liquor brand run by Trinidad-born founder and CEO Marc Farrell.

Singer and businesswoman Ciara
Mat Hayward—Getty Images for Ten to One
  • Startup: Ten to One Rum
  • Location: New York City
  • Year founded: 2019
  • Valuation: Not disclosed
  • Investment level: Series A
  • Number of employees: 10
  • Other major investors: Kevin Ryan (Alley Corp), Dan Levitan, Jeff Raider (cofounder of Harry’s and Warby Parker), Rosecliff Ventures, Vice Ventures 
The current portfolio blends rums from all over the Caribbean—including Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic, and Barbados—and includes three expressions: an extra-proof white rum, an aged dark rum, as well as the limited bottling of a 17-year-old, single cask reserve rum that quickly sold out following its fall 2020 release.
Courtesy of Ten to One Rum

Why she invested, in her own words

I’ve always loved rum—it was my first spirit of choice as an adult, and a fixture at celebrations throughout my life and career. So when I first met Marc Farrell through mutual friends in Seattle, I was intrigued to learn that he not only had a rum brand of his own, but was actively working to reimagine the entire category.

When I tried Ten to One, it was immediately clear that Marc had developed a truly unique point of view. The rums were, of course, exceptional, but there was also a compelling story in every aspect of the product, from the sophisticated bottle design, to the countries where the rums were sourced, to the name itself. It’s a brand grounded in authenticity, that in turn asks us to reconsider our expectations of what rum can be.

There is still this assumption that rum is too sweet, or should only be in a frozen daiquiri, but in fact it’s so much more versatile than that, so much more elegant. With Ten to One, I think we have an incredible opportunity to help consumers rediscover the beauty of the spirit, and how they can bring it into everyday celebrations.

As an entrepreneur, I’m drawn to brands that challenge the status quo. Ten to One’s mission to reinvigorate rum, their positive energy, the world-class quality of the product itself, all of those elements built a portrait of a brand that I knew I had to get involved in. And as a woman of color, I think there was an important opportunity to enter into a space that not too many of us occupy, and help share the story of an inclusive, authentic brand that is working hard to reshape the industry.

Our partnership is just getting started, but Marc and his team have already built an incredible foundation. I’m excited to keep learning, to keep working alongside them, and to keep thinking creatively and strategically about how we can introduce new communities to their vision.

This is an installment of Why I Invested, a series featuring famous investors from all different backgrounds and industries, revealing what inspired them to invest their own money in a new business.