Lucinda Acquaye-Doyle and Eric Acquaye’s idea for their food content business started with a couple of texts. It was the middle of quarantine, and the siblings were looking for ways to give back to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We protested, we donated, but those all felt like fleeting moments. We wanted to do something a little more sustainable — a way we can give back to our community,” says Acquaye.
When Acquaye-Doyle sent a list of Black-owned wineries to her brother, an idea to spotlight the businesses quickly took shape. Soon after, the brother-sister team launched The Sibling Soirée, a New York-based brand and video show that reviews and highlights Black-owned food and beverage businesses. Now, The Sibling Soirée is looking ahead to offer in-person experiences through events and tastings.
“We started off as an idea of providing reviews on YouTube of things that we enjoy and also in a way to promote many of these businesses that go unrecognized,” says Acquaye-Doyle. “When we look at the percentage that are Black-owned, particularly wine producers and those in the industry, it’s very small.”
Since posting their first review on YouTube, the siblings have expanded the content to other platforms like Instagram and Facebook to celebrate and support Black-owned businesses.
Hello Alice spoke with the duo on building an audience, advice on creating video content, and what it’s like to run a business with a family member.
What was it like creating the show?
Eric Acquaye: It is a fun and long and tedious process. I am a content creator; I’ve been a photographer for 15 years. I adapted those skills and we came together and we used our strengths. We love fashion, we love our culture, and we love our family. That’s kind of the vibe we want to bring to the show and the brand, and I think people respond well to it.
Lucinda Acquaye-Doyle: It literally started in my living room. Because it was during the pandemic, a lot of it was over text and voice memos. We’re Ghanaian Americans; we want to make sure that we’re bringing part of our culture to the feel of this. Eric has the visual ability to say, “Alright, I want this to be crisp and clean, and this is what the frame should look like.”
Looking at this initial list and doing some more research of other Black-owned products we wanted to review, it became, “Okay, I found this for this brand. Let’s do a little bit of research about them. This is what it looks like. This is what we’re going to talk about.” We are related, so we don’t want everything to be about work. But at the same time, it’s a lot of those concepts sharing and visualizing what we want it to be. Honestly, I think in some ways, we were very pleasantly surprised that it came out.
[Hello Alice Guides: Create Your YouTube Channel]
Did it take a lot of startup funds to launch the show?
Acquaye-Doyle: No! That’s the honest answer. The beauty of collaborating is that we all have our strengths, and we brought those strengths to the production of the channel. Eric is creative; he’s a photographer, so he has videographer experience. I’m an educator and a researcher. We kind of married those two things and brought our strengths from our own pockets. With the exception of hiring an editor who, in many ways, edits based on our production and direction, everything was coming out of pocket.
How do you go about creating content for different platforms? Do you plan your content differently on YouTube versus Instagram?
Acquaye: It’s an ongoing discussion. We started as a YouTube channel because it was a show and at that time, it was quarantine. We couldn’t really be out in the world. Now as we slowly start to get back to things and experiencing the world as it is, the content has to expand. The show in length was great on YouTube, but we started utilizing Instagram more because those are quick moments that we can share. We have longer reviews that go on YouTube, and then all of our day-to-day moments go on Instagram.
Acquaye-Doyle: One of the things that we do that is attractive to our audiences is we have started training professionally in the wine industry, but we did not want it to become a very complicated review. YouTube provided a lot of that, but the reality is everybody doesn’t have the attention to sit down and watch that. Instagram has provided an avenue for us to give a short, quick highlight of these brands and also for them to get to know us better because I think that one of the beauties about our business is the fact that we are siblings. It’s a feel-good moment. One of our viewers coined the term “Black warmth,” and we do play up on that idea. There’s a lot of stressful things happening in the world. This is an opportunity for us to get the warm and fuzzies. Both of those avenues have worked well for us.
For those who want to get into content creation, how do you earn income from the content that you create? How do you find partnerships?
Acquaye-Doyle: We’re a startup, so we’re still trying to work on building those relationships. A lot of it has been us networking or trying to increase our network. I think the community, particularly Black creatives in the food and beverage industry, is relatively small. So we’ve been increasing our Instagram friends, and people started to recognize our name.
Part of it was reaching out to a Black-owned liquor store. While they weren’t necessarily providing content for the show, it’s like, “I have this, but you have that. Let’s work together. Okay, we’re going to do a giveaway. Let’s partner with your champagne company.”
You’ve grown a following since launching the brand last year. How do you build your audience?
Acquaye: Social media is key. We try to support other people in the same space as us. We want to uplift businesses and other people in the same industry. So we reached out to people, and they reached out back. We want to teach people about these brands, not just highlight the brands. We always look for the connection that we have to the brand, which is a big theme in our business. We treat it as a family, and we call our viewers “sibs.” That’s a big part of how we got people to pay attention to the brand and how we grew. We’re expanding our family.
Acquaye-Doyle: That’s an important concept to stress there, that we do call our followers sibs. They’re not just followers. They’re also part of our sibling unit. We’ll have Foodie Fridays where we’ll try a new recipe and keep these videos very short. Then our sibs would recreate them and then they would start posting them. And we celebrate that. Our concept is all about celebrating, educating, and advocating. We educate each other on these different brands and we advocate and push for more people to support the brands that we highlight. A lot of these are startup businesses that may not have a lot of capital and are just trying to make it. When they see that we’re not looking for anything in return, we legitimately just want to see you win, that’s what I think has caused us to be successful.
[Hello Alice Guides: Create Compelling Video Content]
Do you have any tips for business owners who want to create their own video content?
Acquaye: Lighting is key. Crisp and clear content with good lighting goes a long way and resonates really well with viewers. Also, bring yourself to the table. We are best friends, we’re siblings! We lean on that, and I think that it shows in our content and it fits well with people. Be your authentic self because it shows when you are and people connect with that.
[Hello Alice Guide: Create and Add Videos to Your YouTube Channel]
Running a business with family may be a different dynamic than running with someone who’s not a family member. How do you collaborate?
Acquaye-Doyle: One of the things we both agreed to very early in the creation of The Sibling Soirée was that the moment that this is no longer fun, the moment that this causes a strain in our relationship, is the moment that we’re going to say, “We’re not doing this anymore.” We know that businesses can be stressful, and they can cause some discord. We wanted it to be very clear that this would not be one of those things.
Our parents watch the show and are our biggest fans. After a show comes out, our dad will call and say, “Okay, let’s talk about this.” It’s been a very fun journey for all of us. The beauty of working with your sibling is that we know each other, and we know each other’s strengths. We also know what our buttons are. If there are moments where we’ve been filming too long, and I’m getting cranky or there’s a specific shot that Eric wants that we haven’t really gotten to yet, we know each other enough to know, “Okay, this is how we should do this.” That has made us great business partners.
What are your future plans for The Sibling Soirée?
Acquaye: We really love the education aspect and we’d like to expand on that more. Dinners, tastings, those kinds of events are great for us. You get the show aesthetic which is the family vibe, but we really shine when we bring that in person and that’s what we want to put more out in the world. We want to do this around the world. We are looking to expand the Soirée worldwide. That’s a goal of ours as well.
Acquaye-Doyle: I’m an educator and an international educator. I take students, faculty, and professionals abroad. As Eric mentioned, there’s no reason why we cannot have a Soirée experience in 10 minutes or take trips with like-minded individuals who are hoping to learn, so that’s something that we’re planning to do.
We would love to have some meeting space to provide opportunities for these experiences. We both live in New York, so we’ve been limited to trying out some of the brands that are local. We would love at some point to visit restaurants or different producers across the U.S., so taking the show on the road is an idea for us. We know that the idea for The Sibling Soirée doesn’t have to be monolithic. There are so many different ways that we can celebrate, educate, and advocate on behalf of Black-owned businesses, so we’re open to whatever is next for us.