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Havana Club reveals Party Makers winner

Pernod Ricard-owned Havana Club has crowned Collectif Nude as its inaugural Party Makers competition winner, which celebrates artists in the nightlife industry.

Havana Club Party Makers
Forki (pictured left) won a total €20,000 (US$21,785) investment from the Party Makers contest

The Party Makers competition was launched to promote young entrepreneurs in the global nightlife industry.

The winner, Canada-based Collectif Nude, is the creator of Block Party, a two-day festival that celebrates local talent, from musicians and artists to chefs and tattooists.

Collectif Nude was founded by Zachary Roher and Forki (real name Afeworki Gebrekerestos). Forki joined eight other finalists in the last round of the competition, which took place in Havana, Cuba, last Friday (1 April).

Speaking exclusively to The Spirits Business after his win, Forki commented: “The thing I probably feel most is just super grateful for my whole experience. When I was up on stage, I realised it honestly hasn’t felt like a competition, because it’s been very community-orientated for the last three days.”

Having kick-started the initiative in 2013, Collectif Nude is said to have become a staple of Toronto’s art community, having built a reputation for creating experiences and activations in locations such as London, New York and Los Angeles.

Forki added: “You remember today, all of a sudden, that it’s a competition. I got a bit anxious before, not thinking I would win, but the opportunity of winning and the responsibility that comes with it… to execute the plan that you’ve come up with over the last two months.

“You feel a bit of angst but also excitement to share this with family, and the community back home. So, yeah, very grateful.”

The Party Makers group took part in a series of workshops, which provided lessons on the promoting of parties and how to navigate the nightlife industry post-pandemic.

The finalists then presented a business plan, based on the workshops, to an international judging panel.

Three winners were selected from the regions Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Asia Pacific, and the Americas (Canada, South and Central America).

The nine finalists each received a €5,000 (US$5,448) grant for their business, with Collectif Nude securing an additional €15,000 (US$16,344) for winning.

Forki commented: “As a city Toronto has experienced one of the world’s longest lockdowns. The Block Party is our opportunity, with the support of Havana Club, to bring the city back together again by supporting local creatives, and their livelihoods, which have been so heavily impacted by the pandemic.

“The Party Makers programme, and the experienced mentors, taught us so much in a short amount of time. It was interesting to hear just how many participants had similar experiences to our own – it was inspiring to listen to their success stories and understand where we should redirect our focus.

“This support and investment will truly make our vision a reality and we’re excited to have Havana Club on board for the ride.”

“Passion and drive from day one”

The judging panel consisted of Imran Ciesay, founder of lifestyle brand Places + Faces; Jo Vidler, founder of UK music festival Wilderness, and art director at El Row events; and Lionel Obam, co-founder of monthly event La Sunday Abidjan.

Global marketing director at Havana Club, Anne Martin, said: “We are delighted to crown Collectif Nude the first ever Havana Club Party Makers as Zachary and Forki impressed the judges with their passion and drive from day one.

“They are the embodiment of our ongoing commitment to support the creative and hospitality industries which continue to be the driving force behind Havana Club. With entries from across the world, our first Party Makers has been a resounding success.

“We’re excited to watch all our finalists bring their dreams to life in the coming months and look forward to embarking on the next season of Party Makers.”

Applications for the 2023 Party Makers competition will be open online at in October this year.

Havana Club recently partnered with Spanish DJ Bad Gyal to debut a limited edition bottle.

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