By Amy Matzke-Fawcett

An in-class project has led to real-world expansion for a local business, with an upcoming talk highlighting international entrepreneurship from one of its former students.  

In 2020, Kerrie Stacks, co-owner of Bold Mariner Brewing Co. in Norfolk, enrolled in the 300-level course “French for Business: Language and Culture” with Peter Schulman, Eminent Scholar and professor in the World Languages and Cultures Department.

The class, which focuses on using language and culture as practical aspects of business-forward thinking, had a final project prompting students to design an international business initiative.  

“Because I already had a business, I thought, “How can I make it more productive?” and looked into opportunities for international collaboration,” Stacks said. A nontraditional student who plans to graduate with a major in French in Spring 2023, Stacks hopes to earn a master’s degree in French, as well.

She applied for financial grants through the Commonwealth of Virginia and was awarded $10,000 to export Bold Mariner products in 2020. Due to COVID-19, she used the grant mostly for marketing research that led to new opportunities for the business, including a trip to Paris earlier this year for a three-week course and festival called Planet Beer.

Along with speaking French in class, Schulman invites local entrepreneurs with French connections to speak on campus – including Stacks on Nov. 16­ ­– to help students understand business connections locally and abroad.  

Earlier this month, Schulman welcomed Lindsay Sims, owner of the new boutique shop Maison Soleil on Colley Avenue in Norfolk, to connect with students. In previous years, the class has hosted Virginia Cheese Co. and Hummingbird Macarons, both local businesses with French connections.

“It’s one thing to learn from a book or a video, but it’s another to learn from an actual local business owner,” Schulman said. “The whole point of the class is that it’s practical experience on the local and international level, along with understanding French culture.”

On her trip to France earlier in 2022, Stacks was the only member of her cohort who spoke French. She was able to understand the nuance of culture and connection, and translate for other American brewers attending the festival. She plans to attend again in 2023 to further her company’s connections to Europe.

She will share her experience with Schulman’s students during her talk on Nov. 16, which will focus on what she learned in her class and how she applied it to real-world opportunities.

The talk is free and open to the community, and will take place in Batten Arts and Letters 3061 on the Norfolk campus. For more info, call Peter Schulman at 757-683-3323 or email