Natalia Pavlik - On-Premise Manager Prime Wine & Spirits
How many years have you been in the business? Tell us briefly about your background and your current position today.
I moved to Atlanta from Córdoba (Argentina) on November 1999, and I have been in the industry since then. My first job was at Arby's, Cumberland Mall location, only two weeks after I've arrived to the States. They gave me a pit to wear on my chest that said: "be patient" since I didn't speak English. After 10+ years in restaurants, I was recruited by Perrine to join her at the shop, and that was my first retail experience, and I loved it. A couple of years later I moved over to Midtown and became the Wine Buyer at Mac's Beer & Wine and I was part of the that team for a great 6 years. When I was ready to take the next step (Distribution) I got a job at Winebow, but then...Covid happened. After a few months of frustration and uncertainty life had the best reward waiting for me, I saw Kevin O'Sullivan at a restaurant and he asked me to join the Prime team. Since August 2020, I have been doing what I love, with people I love, and I couldn't be happier.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
Yes, while working at Perrine's I went on a trip to Burgundy (where she's from) and I knew then, 100%, wine had to be part of my life for ever.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
Learning from, sharing with, and getting to know, all the amazing professionals in our industry.
What do you do to create wellness balance in your life? Any particular activity, practices, etc that are meaningful to you?
I love to travel, so I definitely take the time to do that. I also try to visit my family in Argentina every year usually for my birthday, which is in February, and it's just perfect because it's summer time there! My partner and I also love many different music styles, so we love going to concerts whenever possible.
What changes do you hope to see in the wine industry in the next five years?
I would love to see our industry moving towards ALL employees having the right to BENEFITS. Our jobs are as important as any other jobs out there, it's crazy to me that servers, dishwashers, retail assistants, etc., still struggle trying to find a work place that offers health insurance, 401K, etc. I love my career and I wouldn't change a thing, but it's hard to believe that took me close to 20 years in the industry to enjoy those "privileges".
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
We should respect all professionals in our industry based on their work ethic, and passion for the industry. Knowledge and experience is something that comes with time, and who we are and our skin color is a gift. I still struggle every single day I walk into a retail store as a Distributor manager, Woman, Latin and Gay. I'm NOT sorry I'm not the guy wearing a polo shirt you were expecting to see. I do have hope things continue to change, though...for good.
How do you feel you’re contributing to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive wine industry?
As I mentioned before, I am definitely MINORITY but I don't see that as disadvantage, the opposite. I like to think I inspire others by sharing my own story, moving to the States scared as hell, speaking 0 English, with 0 money, and doing exactly what I love to do 23 years later. Everything is possible here, we just need to FIGHT for what we want and BELIEVE we deserve it.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the same sector of the wine industry as you?
I would say the sooner you know what you really want to do, the sooner you will start doing it! But every single step of the way, is so worth it at the end. I LOVE our industry.
Name some people who inspire you in the wine industry and please explain why.
Perrine Prieur and Kevin O'Sullivan, my mentors and great friends. Amazing professionals and even more amazing human beings.