Jacque Irizarry Keeps Giving
The photographer-graphic designer-web designer uses her skills to improve the culture of craft beer.
Jacque Irizarry is catching fire. In the past few months, she’s been featured in Courtney Iseman’s newsletter Hugging The Bar, was named a 2022 Good Beer Hunting Signifer, and created artwork for the first merch fundraiser for the Bevolution Creators in Brewing Grant Program, launched in collaboration with Beer Is For Everyone. Her Instagram account @_hoppenstance is a collection of photography, beer label designs, and inspirational graphics that embody her account’s tagline “Life is about helping others.” The way Jacque helps is through art, designing labels for charitable beer initiatives like “21,” which raised money for victims of gun violence like those killed in Uvalde, Texas. It’s the least she can do, she explains, and it’s just the start. “If I can help in any way, I definitely want to do that,” she says.
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At the beginning of our call, Jacque Irizarry stops me with a laugh. “My seven-year-old stepson just slipped a note under my office door that says Tell them I say hi!”As a work-from-home parent, it’s the type of interruption I can relate to, especially considering we’re chatting in different timezones—still typical office hours for me in California, but dinnertime for her in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Throughout the course of our conversation, that same thread of family, as well as a commitment to community advocacy, come up again and again, cementing themselves as centerpieces for everything Jacque does.
Jacque (pronounced JAK-ee) describes her upbringing as one lacking in material possessions, but abundant in love. Her family includes not one, but two sets of twins (Jacque and her identical twin sister are the youngest, preceded by a set of fraternal twins and an older brother, all two years apart) and early in life, Jacque says it was her parents who encouraged everyone to follow their dreams. Even when times were tough, she explains they would never hesitate to cook a meal or open their home to anyone who needed it.
“Our parents made sure we helped out other people and always put some good out into the world,” she says. “If you do good, good will come back to you. That’s always been something that I try to do—help people. That’s probably what’s fostered my mission now, wanting to continue to give back with my art.”
Her interest in art coalesced during college, after she realized how many years of (expensive) education it would take to become a lawyer. After switching her track from becoming an early childhood education art teacher to visual art, she dabbled in photography and painting before graduating with an art degree. With student loans looming, she worked in customer service before landing her current full-time position handling the graphics and design for a company involved in online education, where she’s been for eight years.
“[This job] has fostered my entire path to where I am now,” Jacque says, explaining they even sent her back to school for graphic design. It was during that period when she was assigned a design project she had yet to nail down a direction for. “It was like, three a.m. and I was working on something, drinking a beer, and it was just an epiphany—duh! The beer industry, of course!” she recalls, noting she’s enjoyed craft beer and been interested in the scene for years. From then on, the bulk of her designs took a beer-y turn, from building brewery websites to can labels in order to build a portfolio geared to the industry. Part of that portfolio required social media work, at which point the earliest iteration of Hoppenstance was born on Instagram.
In the years since, Jacque’s vision for Hoppenstance has evolved into more formal efforts, culminating in the initiative label 21, which she describes as “her peak label” so far not just in terms of widespread visibility, but personal impact as well. “I always say I like to make art from the heart,” she explains, leading her to channel the utter horror she felt watching the news come out of Uvalde into something, anything that would alleviate the pain shared by so many.
“One night I just sat down and was like, ‘I need to make something, a tribute to these people,’ and figured it out from there,” Jacque says. By the end of the week, she had a working label. A few weeks later, the Lehigh Valley Brewers Guild voted to move forward with the label and initiative. “It all spiraled quickly from there.”
What drives a person to dive headfirst into building something to help strangers, even those touched by tragedy? It goes back to that foundation of shared humanity instilled in her by her parents. “Things could be so much better if we would just work together and stop saying me me me me,” she says. “We’d collectively be so much better off if we cared about each other.”
She points to companies like Maine Beer Company, whose ethos “Do what’s right” doesn’t come with a caveat. It’s simply “Do what’s right, no matter what.”
Jacque thinks that while some breweries are walking the walk, the industry could do more—much more. “Beer is amazing, and it has a far reach to get to anybody who needs help,” she says. With this in mind, Jacque explains that her mentality is to focus on where she can make the most impact without spreading herself too thin, running the risk of simply not getting anything done. “This year, I’m making it a priority to be more intentional,” she promises.
That intentionality means putting out a few more labels in 2023 and hopefully partnering with some like-minded breweries to continue giving back. “I’m not looking to work with just anybody,” she warns. “I know there are people that have really good intentions, and then there are people that are mostly for profit. I want to make sure I stay aligned with the right people and continue to bring money back to the people that need it, [to] keep representing the most underrepresented people… I want to do more for the community, for sure.”
I ask, who is her community? It’s all people, she explains, but especially those in her area or those who identify as Hispanic LGBTQ+, as she does—sort of. “I don’t really go by labels,” she chuckles. “I’d rather people just know that I’m an awesome human being.” I consider awesome human beings to be those who strive to make the world a better place, so that identifier holds very true.
Hoppenstance is just one avenue Jacque plans on using to continue developing in order to build the role she wishes to occupy in craft beer. “My role may exist in some capacity, but I know what I want and I’m just not seeing it out there. I need to create it myself,” she says. While her heart is still in photography and design, she says she’s moving towards more “mission-driven work,” perhaps in the non-profit sector, to align herself with breweries “that are really looking to help people.” When she can wake up every day in control of her life, happy with her situation, and able to keep giving back, then that will be success.
“It’s important to remember we are all more than beer,” she says. “It’s really easy to get wrapped up in beer as this identity, but when it comes down to it, we’re all more than that.”
She hopes that as the craft beer industry self-reflects, more people like her can safely and more easily create their own spaces within the culture to keep pushing for more equity, inclusion, and representation. We’re on the way, or so Jacque hopes. “But I think people need to be more open to other people, be more accepting, and more kind and not just shy people away from their dreams,” she says. “The time for change is now.”
Follow Jacque on Instagram at @_hoppenstance and her website designsbyjaqpot.com.
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