Road Taken with Christina Cahill ’85

Autumn 2017
Christina Cahill '85 in her Top Hops Beer Shop

Christina Cahill ’85 in her newest venture, Top Hops Beer Shop on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

I credit my time at Colgate with teaching me so many lifelong lessons, in addition to providing me with enduring and nourishing friendships. These many lessons all played a role in the unexpected twists and turns in my personal and professional life in the last five years.

In the final two weeks of my 50th year, I became a mother for the first time when my husband and I traveled to China, where we adopted our son, Eamon, now 5 years old. One year ago, we became parents a second time, adopting baby Tom, also from China, who is now 2 years old.

Around the same time, my husband and I left the safety of our respective professional lives and jumped off a precipice to join the ranks of entrepreneurs and small-business owners. Prior to this leap, I had spent my career in the photography industry, representing photojournalists to the editorial community, working hand in hand with photo editors at publications such as Time, the New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, and the New Yorker. Bearing witness to the demise of print publications, while realizing that I wanted more control over my destiny, I felt that my decision was clear in spite of the risks.

Today, my husband and I are the proud owners of Top Hops Beer Shop on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. A mecca for beer lovers, Top Hops is a bottle shop, tasting bar, classroom, and culture center for craft and import beers. It’s all hands on deck with this small and growing business, though my husband handles all beer matters, while I manage our marketing, branding, classes, and private events.

I never could have foreseen the twists and turns my life’s path would take. A first-time adoptive mother at age 50? Mother to two young boys at 54? A beer business? Who knew that I would find parallels with my beloved photo world in the beer world? Craft, history, a global perspective, artistry, trends, and personalities govern both of these fields.

My concentration on international relations and French at Colgate awakened in me an appreciation for and curiosity about a world beyond our borders. With photography, I was able to see visual representations of other lands and peoples. In my new life, I get to taste beers from and travel to breweries around the world.

As I discovered all those years ago at Colgate, life is rarely what you expect it to be. Rather, it is the unexpected turns along the way, the Plan Bs and the new chapters, together with an open heart and mind, determination, and much hard work, that make life’s journey so remarkable and rewarding.

—  Christina Cahill ’85

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