Emily Onkey (MBA '11), Co-Founder and CMO, Shares Her Experience Launching Aplòs, A Hemp-Infused Alcohol Alternative

Emily Onkey
Onkey’s journey to Aplós started post-Stern with a role in luxury retail marketing at Estée Lauder, continued at CB2, where she found her passion for brand strategy and creative, and then took a turn toward the nascent direct-to-consumer space in men’s fashion at Bonobos. “I learned an immense amount about performance marketing and the level of insight we can pull from customer data to build a business in a really efficient, strategic way across all parts of a business,” Onkey explained. She took that learning to Aplós (a Greek word for “simple”), joining a former Bonobos colleague in the mission “to reimagine the adult drinking experience.”

The process of creating a cachet around the Aplós beverage—as Onkey put it, “to mirror the experience of drinking a premium liquor”—began with a master mixologist, Lynnette Marrero, who was tasked with crafting a nonalcoholic drink that “has the format, function, and flavor of a premium spirit.” The finished product, infused with 20 mg. of broad-spectrum hemp per serving and launched online in December 2020, is described as citrus-led, with notes of ginger and rosemary.

Onkey credits NYU Stern with giving her the opportunity to aim for a career that veered away from more traditional MBA paths such as consulting or finance. “I was not the traditional business school type,” she confessed. “I liked the application process at Stern because it had a creative bent to it. I have a huge appreciation for all the opportunities that came my way and for being able to learn how to carve out a path and seek opportunities that were right for me.” She continued, “I benefited from all that Stern offered … so when the opportunities came up, I was ready.”