We seldom come across women setting foot in the male-dominated industry fearing pessimism. But, Hyderabad-born Karina Aggarwal is breaking this myth with a job that revolves around alcoholic beverages. She’s now one of the popular faces of the beverage industry and has reviewed the finest wines and spirits.
From being a person with the least fascination on alcoholic drinks to now a certified beverage writer and commentator, Karina has come a long way. In no time, she founded the popular alcoholic beverages website ‘Gigglewater411’ and a company ‘Gigglewater Beverage Concepts Private Limited’. She also started the country’s first womenonly beer club called the Smarty Pints Society.
The beverage expert moved from Hyderabad to Mumbai for her studies when she was 17. After completing a PG Diploma in Journalism, she started working with a company that ran an alcoholthemed magazine. That’s when Karina developed an interest in the field and started to study various beverages.
“It’s been a journey of highs and lows, but I can’t imagine working in any other space anymore. ‘Gigglewater411’ began as a way to share interesting facts/stories with friends I came across during my beverage studies/research. From there, it grew to be a learning portal to keep abreast of brands coming into India. I was lucky to travel and learn from some of the best resources,” she said.
After a few years of running the blog, Karina expanded her scope from just writing about a beverage to conducting tastings and workshops, to even consulting with brands across strategy and activations. “When I conducted whisky tastings, a lot of men didn’t expect to be hearing from a young 20-something female so there would be some jibes. But my favourite part was when, these same men, at the end of the session, would come to ask for advice on what to buy or my opinion on a specific malt,” she shares.
Karina says that initially she had to battle with the perception that there’s a certain ‘type of woman’ who chooses this field or people who undermine one’s hard work and put one’s success down to looks or who helped you. But it taught her to develop a thicker skin. Karina’s job is no smooth sailing, rather it comes with a lot of responsibilities and duties. Last year, she took 69 flights as part of her job.
Her role includes training bar staff through workshops and consulting with brands, bars and importers for strategy, advocacy and communication. She judges international wine and beer competitions and also creates content for social media. Besides, she freelances with newspapers/ magazines now and then. On the transformation that took place for women working in the alcoholic beverages field in the past few years, Karina says, “Today we have very successful women winemakers, distillers, bartenders and brand owners that are making the industry more inclusive in India. Find a reliable mentor; ask for help, work hard and the rest will fall into place.”
Currently, Karina is working towards helping strengthen brands within the country. She also wants to focus more on the content she puts out via @gigglewater411.