By KJ Philp, September 2016 Issue.
It was about a year ago that Devon Norris, a local banking professional with a promising modeling career, took a shot on a new kind of networking.
In July 2015 he met the founder of Roxx Vodka, Angie Nielsen, while she and a group of RoxxStars were out promoting in the Valley.
Norris recalls being incredibly impressed with the “premium” brand that he describes as sophisticated, sexy and edgy. So when Nielsen asked him if he’d like to become a part of the team, he knew it was an opportunity he couldn’t say no to.
Echo caught up with Norris to find out what this past year as a Roxx brand development manager and brand ambassador (lovingly referred to as a RoxxStar) has involved – and what these experiences mean to him.
Echo: Describe your role with Roxx?
Norris: My role has varied a lot over the past year, which I absolutely love! Most people probably recognize my involvement with Roxx from my role as a spokesmodel in our print and digital advertising, or as a promotional model in our LGBTQ market … Beyond my duties as a RoxxStar however, I also contribute to our social media presence, design apparel, consult on community involvement opportunities and represent our LGBT division in print and radio interviews. My role is constantly evolving as the needs of the brand grow – no one in the Roxx family has only one job.
Echo: How did your relationship with Roxx come to be?
Norris: I actually met the founder of the company, Angie Nielsen, and a group of RoxxStars out promoting for a party at the Westgate Entertainment District. I was super impressed with the Roxx display they had set up and went over to visit with their promo models and sample the product. I ended up chatting with Angie and she asked if I would be interested in modeling for the company at an upcoming event they had scheduled at BS West in Scottsdale the following week. I worked my first promo that next week and the rest is history.
Echo: What is Roxx all about? What’s their mission?
Norris: If I had to choose one word to describe Roxx Vodka’s mission I would simply say, “premium.” I personally describe the brand as sophisticated, sexy and edgy. As a company we are confident that our unique recipe has created the smoothest and most refreshing vodka possible. Roxx is crafted in Poland, which has been the home of master distillers for centuries. Roxx is committed to using only premium ingredients, distilling our product six times and ultimately presenting a clean, silky taste for the discerning palate. We are a premium brand and compliment your premium lifestyle. If you appreciate edgy sophistication, Roxx is the vodka for you.
Echo: What can you tell us about Roxx’s involvement in the local LGBTQ community?
Norris: I absolutely love this question because I think it is so important for companies to get involved in supporting the communities they serve. It was a very proud moment for Roxx to be recognized during the Night for Life event, and I was honored to celebrate with the community that evening. Roxx has also participated in/sponsored several other local events supporting the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, the Phoenix Metropolitan Men’s Chorus and LGBTQ fundraising campaigns hosted throughout the Valley …
The Roxx family and culture is very diverse and supportive of equality for all communities. Roxx understands the importance of making sure that our business culture is inclusive … [and] the Roxx demographic is very colorful, diverse and inclusive.
Echo: Roxx brought Nevaeh McKenzie on board during her reign as Miss Gay Arizona; what was it like working with her throughout the past year or so?
Norris: I absolutely adore and respect Nevaeh McKenzie, but more importantly, I have grown to be great friends with Karrington Valenzuela. I first approached Nevaeh to join the Roxx family after she hosted a big event last summer where she absolutely blew me away with her commanding presence and sexy, edgy performance style. Nevaeh’s personality and stage presence is larger than life and has brought such a special element to the RoxxStar culture. Neveah embodies so many of the values that Roxx values, and brings us deeper into the LGBTQ community in such a dynamic way. Neveah is a symbol of excellence, and I always have a great time working with her. Neveah is a true RoxxStar and I live for her.
Echo: Have you been on any trips for Roxx? Where to/what for?
Norris: I have been so fortunate when it comes to travel opportunities with Roxx. We have a very large footprint in West Hollywood, so I’ve had the chance to travel there several times over the last year. We hosted a huge gifting suite for the MTV Video Music Awards last year, which was such an amazing experience for our team. We also hosted a Halloween/Birthday party for Ryan Seacrest’s on air DJ, Manny Streetz, last October. I also had the opportunity to model swimwear at an Atlantis Cruise launch party Roxx hosted, and party with the cruise guests before their departure. I love traveling with Roxx because it is such a fun mixture of business and pleasure – how could it not be when you are representing such a fun and sexy brand?!
Echo: In what ways has your role with Roxx served as a networking tool for you and your career?
Norris: Being involved with Roxx has been such a cool networking experience for me. My work experience has been in a corporate banking environment, so having the opportunity to learn from such a successful and knowledgeable entrepreneur has been a great networking experience in itself. The founder, Angie, has so much experience in launching successful businesses, and I am always in awe of her tenacity and work ethic … The Roxx family has so many diverse talents [which] create a great atmosphere to learn new skills. Any time I walk into a Roxx meeting I know I am going to meet new people who will expand my professional network somehow.
Echo: How has working with Roxx opened doors for you professionally?
Norris: Being recognized from Roxx events has really opened up opportunities for local modeling jobs, which have been a lot of fun. I recently partnered with a local fashion designer Roberto D’Silva to model his new line of fashion swimwear (available now at robertodsilva.com). I have also met several executives in fashion and marketing while traveling, which has presented prospective modeling opportunities. I also really enjoy the opportunities Roxx has presented for me to give back and volunteer – the team at the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS has been awesome in that regard.
Echo: Where do you see yourself in five years? In what ways to you feel like Roxx will assist you getting there?
Norris: I have found myself at an interesting crossroad in life this year. I turned 30 in April and have been looking at my future opportunities through what feels like a whole new set of eyes. I am very happy for all of the great people in my life and the opportunities that come my way. I would love to find a way to channel some of my more creative talents in liberal arts and design in new ways I haven’t been able to explore yet. I love to create, I love to consult and I love meeting new people. Being involved with Roxx has already opened so many doors so far, so as long as the opportunities keep coming, it is just up to me to call deep on my courage and answer when it calls.
Echo: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your time representing Roxx?
Norris: I think the biggest thing I have learned from my time representing Roxx is not to be afraid to say “yes.” So many times in life we are presented with opportunities that seem scary, or hard or something for “other people, but not me.” I think back to that night that I was first approached to promote a Roxx event – if I had said “no” I would have been saying no to a year of absolutely amazing, life-changing experiences. I would have missed out on meeting some amazing RoxxStars – Christine Bundy I love you! I would never be able to say I’ve jumped out of a giant cake wearing a rhinestone speedo. I would have been saying “no” to so many chances to live outside of my comfort zone. I am so thankful that the universe urged me to say “yes” that night, and grateful for every “yes” it has led to since.
Echo: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Norris: I just want to say thank you – thank you for giving me a platform to share a bit of my story. Oh, and for anyone who hasn’t tried Roxx Vodka yet, I assure you it’s worth a shot.