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Expanding the Wine Industry Through Inclusion

By Nicole Kearney

Sip & Share Wines is a boutique winery producing a diversity of handcrafted vegan wines. We're passionate about creating community with wine, especially for wine lovers often overlooked and underrepresented by the wine industry. Our wines are approachable to all palates, fun and made to sip and share.

How did you come up with the idea for Sip & Share Wines?

Sip & Share Wines was created out of the frustration, isolation and poor treatment of being the only non-white person in wine spaces and experiencing the lack of diversity and inclusion in the wine industry. Sip & Share Wines creates community for wine lovers who have been overlooked and underrepresented in the wine world to enjoy and learn more about wine in a fun, culturally friendly, and inviting environment.  Sip & Share Wines holds "space" and centers new majority wine lovers while inviting all to create a more inclusive and diverse wine industry.

Did you start the venture alone? How did you manage uncertainty in the early stages of the business? Were you ready to pivot if needed? Did you keep it a very lean MVP?

I did start Sip & Share Wines alone, and it was a very lean operation in the early stages. After three months, I added Wine Ambassadors to assist with pouring wine for the people at events, festivals and pop-ups. After two years, the business model pivoted from a home wine tasting company to a boutique winery.

What advice would you give to other founders just starting to build a company?

Get to know your audience. Create a journey they can go along with you. Be honest. Own your mistakes, and before you do anything, create financial projections.

Your wines are vegan, aren't all wines vegan?

Many wines produced in bulk aren't vegan as they use animal byproducts such as egg whites, fish bladder, pork gelatin and crustaceans to clear (fining process) the wines. Sip & Share Wines uses clay to clear (fine) our wines, making them vegan.  

How are your hours spread throughout the week? Have you had to set any boundaries around time?

In this startup phase, we work 10+ hours a day. Sundays we rest. I carve out time for yoga and meditation and those boundaries are respected.

Has your business made you happier and more fulfilled in life, compared to how you felt before starting it?

Before starting Sip & Share Wines I was happy, healthy and whole. I had another business writing and producing stage plays and streaming series. Wine is a passion; it adds to my joy.

What impact do you want to have? Is your startup objective "getting rich" or "changing the world"? Is control or success more important?

Sip & Share Wines is a part of the changing face of the wine industry and who it considers wine lovers. We're making wine fun, accessible and inviting to new majority wine enthusiasts. This is a success for me. Creating a legacy that spans generations and creates wealth will also be a success.

Is it possible to build a successful company without burning out or damaging other parts of your life (family, health, etc.)?

Sip & Share Wines is a business of family. We lean on one another to keep from burning out. Health, mental and physical, is very important. Sometimes we push too much and too hard. However, we've learning to listen to our bodies and rest to keep from doing damage that destroys the fun.

How has COVID-19 challenged you as an entrepreneur and how are you overcoming those challenges?

COVID-19 has unfortunately taken the lives of our family and friends. Being mindful of its deadliness, we have opted to not do in-person events.  Our pandemic pivot has been to host SipSperiences, guided, interactive virtual wine tastings. We'll continue to offer these, contactless delivery and pickup and shipping our wines. As the virus's ability to spread is controlled, we look forward to traveling to pour our wines for the people and being in physical connection with our community.

If you want to read more on the backstory of Sip & Share Wines, read here. Continue to follow Nicole's story through her social media:

Sip & Share Wines Facebook

Sip & Share Wines Twitter

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