Kathy Mueller Brews Up Something Beautiful
By Alixandra Rutnik on Mar 05, 2021
One Club Member designs branding for a craft beer festival that supports women brewers
One Club Member, advertising professor, and designer Kathy Mueller is behind the colorful Bold Women & Beer festival aesthetic. Bold Women & Beer is all about craft beer, the women who make it, and challenging the stereotyipcal narrative that only dudes drink beer.
We had the chance to talk to Kathy about her fun design work for this festival just in time for International Women's Day and Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day on March 8th. We're talking all about beer over here – TGIF!
How did you get involved with the non-profit organization Pink Boots and the Bold Women & Beer Festival?
The Pink Boots Society is a national club for women beer professionals. I discovered this organization down an internet rabbit hole one evening and realized that the Philadelphia Chapter president Erin, was a fellow alumni from my alma mater.
Moore College of Art & Design is a small all women's art school, so I decided to reach out and introduce myself. Erin is super friendly and we met over a beer. A few months later Erin was working with a chapter committee to plan Bold Women & Beer. She hired me to design the festival identity and some promotional materials. I am often excited about new projects, but this one was next level. It was the intersection of a few of my interests: event identity design, feminism, non-profit sector... plus what designer wouldn't love to work on a beer festival?
"The festival and its media coverage contribute to reshaping the public perception by shining a spotlight on women's enjoyment of craft beer and their professionalism within the industry."
The Bold Women & Beer festival itself challenges the status quo of beer culture. The festival and its media coverage contribute to reshaping the public perception by shining a spotlight on women's enjoyment of craft beer and their professionalism within the industry. One member remarked that it was the first festival where guests not only assumed she worked for the brewery, but also actually believed she was a brewer. I'm pleased the festival finally gave her the experience she has always deserved throughout her career.
You said that beer drinking is typically attached to the toxic masculinity narrative… can you elaborate on this a bit. As a feminist and as an educator yourself, how do you think we can change this narrative?
Dominant beer culture is a result of the patriarchy. The history of beer goes back to women in ancient Mesopotamia and Sumeria. Beer became big business, and women's contributions were forgotten. Today, the stereotype of the bearded white brewer is supported by extremely homogeneous data published in a Brewers Association report. Women and people of color make up a shocking minority in the industry, and for the market, they are marginalized consumers. Women are excluded in advertising altogether– or worse, objectified.
My position in academia has me thinking about how brands create and reinforce existing stereotypes that limit society. Beer is an acquired taste developed through exposure, just like coffee or wine. Media and culture play roles in shaping consumer preferences. I think that ingrained stereotypes discourage people from cultivating their palates for beer, and underdeveloped palates prevent people from fully enjoying complex and flavorful experiences. I would like to see beer advertising speaking to a more inclusive audience in a way that invites anyone, regardless of gender or color to enjoy.
"Media and culture play roles in shaping consumer preferences, and I think that ingrained stereotypes discourage people from cultivating their palates for beer, and underdeveloped palates prevent people from fully enjoying complex and flavorful experiences."
2019 was the very first Bold Women & Beer Festival in Philadelphia, PA. How did you come up with the design for this event?
The client gave me a lot of creative leeway to interpret the project brief. I contemplated how these women are challenging gender stereotypes and having fun doing it. The poster features an oversized beer glass, which represents the dominant beer culture. My initial sketch was Atlas-inspired, but I soon realized that it could never be one woman’s lift. Three figures work together to lift the glass in the final. I hope the poster brings to mind themes of community and belonging. In addition to the poster, I designed a flyer, t-shirt, and some social media assets.
The enthusiasm of the crowd was palpable at the festival. It was a very gratifying experience for me. I saw so many people holding up their branded tasting cup for a photo. The T-shirts sold out. I'm told the festival had 300 guests and that they surpassed their fundraising goals. The proceeds are funding chapter members in various educational endeavors. It is clear that the festival had an impact and I am proud to have made a contribution.
Teaching is a source of constant inspiration! It influences my professional practice and vice-versa. I try to be worthy of the respect my students pay me. When I work, I approach all projects with enthusiasm, dignity, and a learning mindset. When I teach, I pull directly from my professional experiences. Sometimes I'm even able to engage students and alumni in my own client work. My students go on to enjoy successful careers. They hold titles ranging from Designer to VP Creative Director at companies including Facebook, Grey Group, McCann New York, Sephora, and TBWA/Chiat/Day.
The Bold Women & Beer Festival is all about the collaboration brew, so what is the collaboration brew exactly?
On International Women's Day, society members everywhere gather and brew beer together. These beers are called Pink Boots Collaboration Brews. I had the pleasure of being a guest at the Philadelphia Chapter Collaboration Brew Day in 2020 which took place at Triple Bottom Brewery, shortly before COVID locked us all in our homes. We brewed a Belgian ale and named it Hetty Reckless. The vibe of the brew day was welcoming and celebratory. Once a collaboration beer is ready, a portion of any sale goes to the Pink Boots scholarship fund.
Bold Women & Beer took place when that year's collaboration brews were ready to be enjoyed. Most of the 40+ breweries at the festival were pouring collaboration brews. My favorite so far is definitely the This Beer is Boysen from Eight and Sand Beer Co. in South Jersey. It's my favorite for two reasons: I love to drink fruity sours and I designed the label. I had great fun conjuring witchy vibes for the art and typography to match the name.
How did the virtual cheers “event” go-over in 2020?
"On the would-be festival date, participants picked up to-go collaboration brews and shared a virtual toast using #BoldWomenAndCheers #PinkBootsCheers."
I was already working on 2020 materials when the pandemic canceled our festival plans. On the would-be festival date, participants picked up to-go collaboration brews and shared a virtual toast using #BoldWomenAndCheers #PinkBootsCheers. My boyfriend and I packed a picnic with three different collaboration brews from breweries in my area. I think it was a nice way to acknowledge the day that we had planned to gather at the festival. I missed the energy of the crowd, but I was happy to support Pink Boots members by buying collaboration brews from my local breweries and saying cheers to bold women via my Insta Stories.
What is the plan for the Bold Women & Beer Festival for 2021?
March 8 is International Women's Day, and Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day. This year many breweries are hosting smaller brew days with their female employees. Collaboration Brews should be ready at your local participating breweries at the end of April. Purchasing these beers supports both your local brewery and the Pink Boots Society, and your local breweries need your patronage now more than ever! This industry is among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with 50% of the workforce still on unemployment.
Pink Boots Philly is in the process of planning how we will celebrate Bold Women & Beer this year without the in-person festival. Please stay tuned by following @boldwomenandbeer and @pinkbootsphilly on your social platform of choice. We look forward to when we will be able to gather in-person again for the festival.
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