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Monday, November 24, 2014

Natalie Parbhoo: The Duchess of Distribution

The journey booze takes to from conceptualization to the drink in your hand is a long one which involves multiple several characters. From brewery, winery, and distillery owners to distributors, retailers and service industry members, there are females all over the state of Louisiana dedicating their passion and hard work to make sure our beverages can live up to our cuisine. Check back with us every month to see which lady we're spotlighting next on this new women in booze series on Bite and Booze!

Natalie Parbhoo
Natalie Parbhoo with her hands full at The Cove
Natalie Parbhoo has been working for International Wine & Spirits for eight years now. After working in restaurants ranging from Semolina's to Fleming's, her love for booze and its variety of flavors has grown over time. It wasn't until she attended a tasting with some service industry ladies at Slinky's 8 years ago that she realized that infusing craft beer, fine wines, and quality spirits into the restaurants of Baton Rouge could be pursued professionally. The distribution world can be tough for females. Parbhoo said that it takes time and persistence to be taken seriously in a field that's almost 80% male. "First getting into it, the woman I replaced was only the second female representative in the city, so people just didn't take me seriously. They wasted a lot of my time flirting with me and never bought anything. That's when I realized I needed to be super aggressive to sell." Parbhoo went on to explain that a lot of men in the industry would comment on a female's looks to gauge whether or not she would be able to make it in a job like this. Hearing that as a woman or not being taken seriously in my profession, "is intimidating," Parbhoo says, "but, it gave me more of a drive. I had to build up that trust and prove to them that I was serious." Parbhoo now manages over 75 accounts in the Greater Baton Rouge market representing a portfolio rich in craft beer (over 700), wine (over 600), and artisinal spirits (over 400). Her expertise in the alcohol world is intimidating to any novice that may try to test her knowledge, but with a warm smile Natalie will gladly share her passion with anyone at the bar.

As we were talking about picture ideas, a man sitting next to us suggested she lay on the bar, which was the perfect end to our talk about what it's like to be a woman forging through the alcohol industry. Eight years later, Parbhoo still loves her job and the different products she represents. She's keeping Baton Rouge fresh one drink at a time.