OU alumna has A Drink With … Detroit
BY ERIN BEN-MOCHE
OU News Bureau
If you could have a drink with anyone, whom would it be? Many dream about it, but Hillary Sawchuk pursues it.
Sawchuk is the founder, CEO and host of A Drink With. Her creative web series lets her sit down with artists, celebrities, athletes and innovators over a drink of their choice to share meaningful conversations.
“Our first interview was published in November of 2011,” Sawchuk said. “I remember being very excited. I felt like we were on to something. I spent the summer booking interviews, having drinks [interviews] with no website up yet and figuring out how WordPress worked. I remember paying our photographer $40 for a shoot each week. That was basically my grocery money.”
Before she fully formed A Drink With, Sawchuk was part of the 2009 graduating class of journalists from Oakland University. A few months later, she moved to Chicago.
“Chicago was a fun, big city close to home,” Sawchuk said. “After visiting a couple of times, I fell in love. Chicago was a great place to start and grow a business. The creative and entrepreneur community was a great support system.”
With little money but a great deal of drive, Sawchuk started interviewing local Chicagoans at hot spots around the city. She wrote questions herself then uploaded content to the site.
She met fashion photographer Kirsten Miccoli through an interview. She now is Sawchuk’s primary photographer.
“I remember shooting her for another story and she ended up interviewing me for A Drink With,” Miccoli said. “She has come such a long way since the beginning. What was once a writer and photographer is now a crew of talented people.”
Sawchuk’s team includes a video team, editor, social media and PR manager, a talent producer and photographer.
“The more legitimate A Drink With became, the easier it was to book higher talent because they were coming into an established place,” Miccoli said.
Since starting up in 2011, Sawchuk has interviewed more than 300 people, including Chelsea Handler, Sterling K. Brown and John Legend. She hopes to move her brand to other cities and share drinks with people who have a passion for their craft outside of Chicago.
“While living in Chicago, I always kept an eye on all of the things happening in Detroit,” Sawchuk said. “I’ve had FOMO (fear of missing out) hearing about all of the businesses moving to Detroit, new restaurants, craft cocktail bars and what Dan Gilbert was doing to revive the city. It’s time for me to come back to my hometown and put a spotlight on all of the positive things happening.
The OU alumna decided to have a drink with Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans and one of Detroit’s leading businessmen and innovators.
“The country needs to hear about the greatest American comeback,” Sawchuk said. “When I thought of who I need to have a drink with in Detroit, Dan was on the top of my list.”
Sawchuk and Gilbert met at Wright and Company on Woodward Avenue on Monday, Jan. 30, to discuss his life and accomplishments over a glass of Glenlivet Scotch whiskey.
“I’m happy that Hillary called,” Gilbert said. “The only direction Detroit it going is up. It’s a place where people may leave but always return at some point.”
This was true for Sawchuk, who is a Michigan native.
Camera operators Alexander Jacobson, Brandon Mata and founder of Riot Films Productions Matt Barth said they were excited to be a part of the Chicago-Detroit collaboration.
“This was great. We’re hoping to work on more projects together in the future,” Barth said. “These are the types of shoots you always look forward to. They are fun and light-hearted mixed with a really good game plan on Hillary’s part.”
“A Drink With…Dan Gilbert” will be available on the website Feb. 15, 2017.
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