I spent a few days in Washington DC recently with the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America and attended their Women’s Leadership Council. It is so inspiring to meet to spend time with women who are running businesses, managing billion dollar revenue streams and leading sales teams with hundreds of people. I am honored to be a part of this group and look forward to many more at events in the future. I always learn so much when I attend.
I also think the management team at WSWA is top notch. It happens to be run mostly by women. Every event, all the communications and the people….so professional. And they just hired a woman as the new President and CEO. Love it.
A bit of background about why this event and supporting women in this industry is so important to me. The beverage industry has been male dominated since the beginning. I would often attend distributor sales meetings with 50-75 people in the room. I was literally the only female on site. However, change is in the air. WSWA has made it a big part of their agenda to promote diversity. The message is interesting as it comes across as “there are dollars in diversity” vs. “it’s the right thing to do.” But it’s a start and something that old school family businesses will listen to: the bottom line. In addition, Women of the Vine and Spirits is becoming more and more popular within all three-tiers of the industry. Women are moving up the ranks and becoming sommeliers and very important retail buyers. In fact, one of the largest most important buyers in the world is a woman and she is probably the most influential person in the world when it comes to wine.
At LibDib, we have so many products and such an interest from buyers, that we now have an entire shopping channel/category that is dedicated to “Women Owned/Operated.”
While I have done a previous blog on women Makers. I would like to call out a few more that are doing amazing things, both on the LibDib platform and in life in general.
Sipsong Spirits: Tara of Sipsong is kind of totally amazing. She has three kids. She helps out with her husband’s booming business. She makes killer gin. And she is just about to get her pilot’s license. She flew from Sonoma to San Jose to get her hours in and dropped off some samples and a few orders. I am in awe of her endless energy and passion. Her gin is amazing and really taking off. We love offering it on the LibDib platform!
Crooked Water Spirits: I have yet to personally meet Heather as Crooked Water is one our newer Makers. But I am in love with their bottled Old Fashioned...and plan to drink it all throughout the Fall. Plus they have some amazing packaging and branding. Oh, and Heather also runs another successful company. I may just have to take a trip to Minnesota to meet this inspiring woman.
Republic Restoratives: Based in Washington D.C., Republic Restoratives has fabulous branding (I am sensing a theme here). Founded by Pia and Rachel, Republic Restoratives was crowdfunded, which carries through to their community oriented messaging. I had a chance to taste their Rodham Rye and new Apple Brandy this week. Yum. I have yet to meet Rachel and Pia, just over the phone. But I spent some time with their sales manager Whit this week. Good people and awesome products all around.
Helena Valley Wines, Knights Bridge and Huge Bear: Debbie and Darlene. While both these fabulous ladies are not necessarily the owners of the company, they both represent excellent wines….from totally different parts of the world….and they represent them with pride and professionalism.
Debbie is from Helena Valley Wines in Austria. She is originally from Canada, has spent tons of time in Europe, and is married to an Austrian. Oh, and she is 100% a New Yorker, so I love visiting with her when in town. She is learning all about this crazy thing we have in the U.S. called the three-tier system and how to navigate its complexities. And we have become friends in the meantime.
Darlene is the National Sales Manager for Knights Bridge and Huge Bear wines in Calistoga. She has been a supporter of our model from the beginning, but I only had the chance to meet her in person recently. We chatted about the challenges we both had being small suppliers and shared stories. I feel like I have known her forever already. Plus the wines….wow. Seriously stunning.