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. Housed in a former industrial mill complex that is now part of an arts district, ISCO proudly carries on a centuries-old tradition of making things by hand, combining attention to craft and detail with a creative approach.  ISCO creates base spirits from scratch on their 500 gallon Vendome copper still, and cares deeply about each step in their process—from the regional farm partners that grow their grains according to biodynamic farming practices, to the time taken to mash, ferment, distill, bottle and package on site, to the "spent grains" that go to local farms to feed livestock—if you connect the dots, all these steps add up to amazing flavor, and to creating a virtuous regenerative cycle to allow us to do it all over again! 

During COVID-19, ISCO has been operating the #WishWeCouldWindow (aka the "Wish We Could Give You a Hug But at Least We Can Give You Spirits, Cocktails and Sanitizer" Window), where they not only sell their spirits but give out free bottles of house-made hand sanitizer, no purchase required. They have also been producing larger quantities of sanitizer for the City of Providence, the Post Office, the Fire Department, nursing homes, healthcare workers and other first responders. 

Before jumping headlong into the booze business, Rubinstein ran an independent marketing consultancy and published Outpost Journal, an arts/activism publication that highlighted “underexposed” cities. The Journal was sold at the Museum of Modern Art’s PS1, Opening Ceremony, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art among other locations, and was selected as a Best New Magazine of 2012 by the British Journal of Photography.  Before Outpost, Rubinstein worked at Google, where she provided marketing advice to financial services clients, and prior to that she worked in both traditional and online publishing with stints at PAPER magazine, The New YorkerVanity Fair, and CondeNet, blogging on occasion for GOOD and Metropolis

Rubinstein is currently on a brief leave as the chair of the Communications Committee of the American Farmland Trust, a rotating trustee of the David Rockefeller Fund, and was formerly on the boards of the Providence-based Southside Community Land Trust, which helps people grow food, as well as the Steel Yard, an industrial arts education and job training facility. She holds an MBA from Columbia University, an MA in Media Studies from the European Graduate School, and a BA in Comparative Literature from Brown University. A passionate cook and enthusiastic gardener, Rubinstein divides her time between in Little Compton, a tiny farm town by the sea, and Providence, Rhode Island. 

Interviews