Manya K. Rubinstein, class of 2001

Manya K. Rubinstein, class of 2001

Manya K. Rubinstein is the CEO of the Industrious Spirit Company (ISCO), Providence Rhode Island's first distillery since Prohibition. ISCO produces sustainably sourced vodka, gins, bourbons and experimental spirits.

In this interview, Manya Rubinstein, Brown University class of 2001, talks about opening and operating the Industrious Spirit Company in Providence during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Rubinstein begins by recalling that she first learned about COVID-19 from a friend who was living in China. She notes that she did not immediately feel like the virus was a threat to the United States. She goes on to discuss that she had been developing the Industrious Spirit Company for five years and had just opened her doors for friends and family events when the pandemic halted further opening plans.

Rubinstein explains that she quickly realized her business – hampered by the pandemic – could assist in manufacturing hand sanitizer. She touches upon the process of making the sanitizer with some of her company’s alcohol byproducts and distributing it to Providence’s city employees, first responders, and postal workers. She also shares stories from the “Wish We Could Window” – a window at the Industrious Spirit Company that Rubinstein used to sell spirits and distribute free hand sanitizer in a socially distanced and safe manner.  

Rubinstein closes her interview by saying that issues such as environmental sustainability and racial justice were prevalent before the pandemic and that she hopes that changes brought on by the pandemic will be used to make the world a better place.

Recorded on Jun 24, 2020


Interviewed by Amanda Knox, Pembroke Center Assistant Archivist