Updated: May 23, 2022
How many years have you been in the business? Tell us briefly about your background and your current position today.
Ten years, I’m currently the Founder/CEO of Nomadica and the Wine Director at Gigi’s. I've bounced all around the country and had the opportunity to work at some incredible restaurants. My undergraduate degree is in Sustainable Agriculture and Women, Gender, Race, Ethnicity, and Sex Studies, and my work today does feel like a beautiful marriage of all of these things.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
I had been going down a more traditional career path, but became very close with the proprietor of a wine bar near my school. She was everything I wanted to be in life; engaging, kind, energetic and such a risk taker. She constantly tasted wine with me and really worked to instill confidence. She was diagnosed with ALS, a very terrible and quickly degenerative disease. It struck me how short our time can be on this planet. Very quickly after, I devoted my life to wine and never looked back.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
I love having the opportunity to lead a team and create a healthy work environment. I spent my life working in restaurants and I've seen firsthand how destructive a bad work environment can be to one's soul. Every employee at my company is paid well and has company-covered health insurance. We foster an environment of open and kind communication where everyone's opinion is heard and we make decisions together.
What do you do to create wellness balance in your life? Any particular activity, practices, etc that are meaningful to you?
Getting a dog has been the best thing that ever happened to me. Taking her on walks every morning and evening has forced me to step away from my computer or phone and look around at the world (which I very much need).
What changes do you hope to see in the wine industry in the next five years?
I want to see more BIPOC, women, LGBTQIA+ in leadership roles across our industry. Without this, we will not have true change. There needs to be shared decision making and if it's the same type of key person at the top, there are intrinsic biases that trickle down into every element of an organization. I started my brand because I wanted to put something premium in sustainable, alternative packaging. I hope to see more of that in the coming years; great winemakers breaking the stigma of alternative packaging. I was so excited to see Tablas Creek launch a boxed wine and I love being in the same category as great wine companies like Sans and Companion Wine Company.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
I think representation is the first step, of course, but the true test is having there is an equal amount of Women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ folks in the C-Suite, owning wine companies, and in leadership positions. It's so essential to have broader representation outside of hiring a diverse set of models for your photoshoot. True change comes from having diverse leadership and decision-makers.
How do you feel you’re contributing to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive wine industry?
By putting my money where my mouth is in terms of hiring, mentorship, and partnerships. I feel so strongly about being a resource for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and women looking to start their own businesses, particularly in regards to raising capital, creating business plans, and developing distribution strategies. For too long, knowledge was passed around in select circles and still is.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the same sector of the wine industry as you?
Find mentors and talk to everyone! I always advise people have a really strong community before beginning an entrepreneurship journey as being a founder is incredibly isolating and stressful. Finding other people who are at the same stage as you is essential beyond sharing resources.
Name some people who inspire you in the wine industry and please explain why.
Maryam Ahmed who has the most relentless energy and drive; is a true connector of people and is actively working every day to make the wine industry more inclusive through Maryam + Company . Simonne Mitchelson, who in addition to being an incredible winemaker and genius marketer is bringing new faces to our industry daily through her work with Natural Action Wine club. Sarah Clarke, one of my greatest mentors as a sommelier, one of the most knowledgable and kind souls running a wine program in the US. Philana Bouvier, who I met when she was one of the few women in the top ranks of a major distributor and actively goes out of her way to give others a leg up.