New consultancy The Maren Group focuses on sexual harassment

07 March 2018

Last month, a new consultancy focusing on issues of economic abuse against women was launched in New York. The firm will consult both individuals and organizations in issues of sexual harassment, discrimination, domestic violence, and child support.

Over the past year, there has been a groundswell of support for women’s issues. Amid the revelation of widespread sexual assault in Hollywood, the #MeToo movement caught fire, leading to broader recognition of the issue. The movement has also led to the outing of high-profile abusers, while increasing calls to create safer places for women both in and outside the workplace. #MeToo has fed into the new hashtag movement #TimesUp – supported by high-profile actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone – which attempts to expand the fight against sexual harassment to the area of workplace equity and fairness. #Timesup aims to advance gender parity issues like equal pay and equal work environments, while fighting for increased opportunities for women and people of color.

Meanwhile in the world of consulting, clients are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with their rising advisory bills. The high rates and perceived one-size-fits-all solutions of the giant consulting firms are pushing many toward smaller, specialist firms in pursuit of better value.

Seizing on these two trends, founding partners Lisa Senecal and Scott Labby announced the launch of boutique consulting firm The Maren Group, which will specialize in issues of abuse primarily affecting women – sexual harassment, discrimination, domestic violence, and child support enforcement (collectively ‘SDDC’). The new consultancy will support individuals, corporations, nongovernmental organizations, and investors by investigating, auditing, and managing both specific cases and general practices related to SDCC. The firm will also seek to address broader social policy issues and practices that increase risk to individuals and employers.

New consultancy The Maren Group focuses on sexual harassment, other economic abuses

Partners and associates at the new SDDC specialist firm have themselves personally experienced and confronted harassment, assault, and other workplace and economic abuses.

“Our individual battles against economic abuse predate #MeToo and #TimesUp but those movements have positioned us to make significant strides against these abuses and effect true cultural and institutional change,” commented The Maren Group Co-Founder Lisa Senecal. “Clearly, traditional workplace training has failed us. Enormous sums are invested every year with no clear benefit to employers or employees. Our combined experience and expertise make us uniquely qualified to guide our individual and corporate clients while enabling us to identify, analyze, and remedy the organizational flaws that put employees, businesses, and investors at risk.”

Aside from the destructive personal, emotional, and human damage that SDDC issues wreak, they also have a profound economic cost.

Co-Founder Scott Labby elaborated, “The cost and magnitude of these issues demand a response that respects individual rights, addresses systemic workplace weaknesses, and drives public policy reform. Various estimates suggest that domestic violence alone costs the economy at least $10 billion per year; sexual harassment and discrimination at more than $60 billion. Unpaid child support in the United States has reached $115 billion and counting. And these are simply measurable estimates that do not take into account the long-term damage to economic health and quality of life, nor lasting damage and costs to businesses and investors. This is part of a global problem costing world economies between $12 and $28 trillion in lost GDP.”

Lisa Senecal is a strategic crisis communications professional and women’s advocate. She has consulted and provided media strategy for numerous companies, political campaigns, and policy initiatives. Senecal is a frequent commenter on issues of economic abuse and public policy, appearing in NPR Morning Edition, the PBS New HourThe Daily Beast, and USA Today, among others. She is currently a 2017 Gubernatorial appointee to the Vermont Commission on Women, which is working on state-level policy addressing sexual harassment.

Scott Labby is an attorney who specializes in risk, security, liability, and crisis management guidance. He has managed and consulted on high-profile cases involving economic abuse of women, including harassment, domestic violence, and child support matters. Labby earned his J.D. from Yale Law School, and is a member of the bars of New York and Massachusetts; he is also a Registered Foreign Lawyer in England and Wales.

More news on


Brent Miles launches cider consulting firm in Hampton, Virginia

28 February 2019

Craft cider industry veteran Brent Miles has started a cider-focused consulting firm to support cider start-ups.

Brown Hat Consulting, based out of Hampton, Virginia, will provide business, facility, and product consulting services to nascent cider businesses, ranging from business plan development, compliance, facility design, and equipment sourcing, to recipe development, ingredient sourcing, and cidermaker training.

Miles was previously head cidermaker at Sly Clyde Ciderworks in Hampton, after a stint as head cidermaker at Seattle Cider Company. His ciders have won gold medals at numerous competitions, and he has lectured at the Oregon State University Craft Cider Startup Workshop.

“American craft cider is still young, but those in the industry with the most experience are running their own companies,” Miles said. “They are often willing to help newcomers in small ways, but they won’t work in depth with their potential competitors. My experience will allow me to help the next wave of cider entrepreneurs avoid common pitfalls, make great cider, and position their businesses and brands for success in the increasingly competitive marketplace.”


Over the past half-decade, alcoholic cider beverages have exploded in popularity. According to figures from Canada’s Agriculture and Agri-Food department, cider retail sales in the United States jumped from $940 million in 2013 to $1.54 billion in 2017 – achieving a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.1%. IBISWorld, meanwhile, has reported that the number of cider businesses has increased by 18.3%, while the number of employees has grown by 8.2%.

That heady growth has mostly been driven by millennials, who account for most of the cider drinkers in America. Combine that with the fact that people in Portland, Oregon drink the most cider per capita, and a clear image of the hard cider market begins to emerge. 

According to analysts, cider consumption has grown based on demand for gluten-free beer alternatives, as well as a preference for lower-alcohol beverages (cider ranges from 2-8% alcohol by volume). The craft cider sector has swelled like the craft beer market before it, as millennials seek local producers offering unique, quality products. The Northwest Cider Association (representing Washington and Oregon) has seen its membership explode from 10 cidermakers in 2010 to more than 80 members today.
Brent Miles launches cider consulting firm in Hampton, VirginiaThe US cider industry cooled in 2018, however, declining to $1.29 billion in retail sales. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada projects the US cider market will further decline by a CAGR of -2.6% until 2022. According to the report, cider products are being squeezed by other new ready-to-drink products - especially alcoholic soda products that saw success among the gluten-free crowd in 2016 and 2017.

Another factor hitting ciders is high sugar content, as consumers increasingly trend toward curbing sugar intake for health reasons. Alcoholic sodas can be artificially sweetened, creating even tougher competition for hard cider. Despite the recent overall cider market slowdown, growth among small, craft producers remains strong, reaching retail sales growth in the double digits.

RelatedUS Wine market to grow steadily, reaching $43 billion in 2022