Inspiring confidence is something I am very passionate about. We are doing that in a small way in offering a solution that takes the intimidation out of wine, allowing our customers to feel confident in their purchase and to be excited about sharing it with others. I also hope to inspire other female entrepreneurs to have the confidence in pursuing their goals, ideas and dreams.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Angela Allison, co-founder and CEO of WINESOCIETY , a consumer-based subscription wine company serving premium wine minus the complexity. Born and raised in Ohio, Angela grew up with strong family values and an entrepreneurial drive. Frequent travel between California and Ohio offered Angela a unique perspective on wine consumption — midwestern wine drinkers were far more intimidated by the alcohol than her California family. Paired with her nomadic lifestyle that is common in today’s world, Angela had a light bulb moment: create a wine delivery company that merges quality taste, simplicity, and convenience.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My pleasure! Opportunities come along, but it’s up to you to pursue them. The idea for WS came in traveling between Cincinnati, OH and San Francisco CA for work. My husband (and co-founder) Austin and I noticed how differently wine was approached and consumed across America. Due to location, there is an ingrained wine culture in California that eliminates the inhibitions for local residents and frequent visitors. That’s not the case across the country, where wine is viewed as complex, intimidating and expensive. We really wanted to change that conversation to allow friends and family back in the Midwest to have access to the same quality grapes we were drinking in California with a similar enjoyable experience.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Being an entrepreneur in an early stage company is an adventure, with each day being a learning opportunity. WineSociety is less than a year old, and disrupting an industry that has been stagnant. Just a few months in, we attended the National Distributors Conference (WSWA) where we sampled our wine and shared our story. It was there that we validated our position as being the Premium alternative to bottles. Of the many comments received, a few stood out…”I can’t believe this came out of a can!” said a representative form Southern Glacier and “this rivals Prisoner” another distributor mentioned. From there, just a few weeks later, we landed a deal with our hometown retailer, Kroger; the largest supermarket chain (by revenue) and second largest general retailer in the US. Its been a wild ride so far, and this is just the beginning.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
This question is quite refreshing! Mistakes are typically viewed as bad. One of my favorite lines is “fail forward,” because how do you expect to learn and grow if you are afraid to make mistakes? When we first launched our product in May, we overlooked the fact that people wanted an easy way to try our wine. We were so excited for the launch of our iconic 9-can box that beautifully displayed our modern bold + beautiful labels! We thought that most people had a general favorite of white red or rose’, but thought customer feedback found out that they still wanted a way to try all three. We immediately implemented a VARIETY 9-can box and increased our sales.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive
Everything comes down to communication and creating great culture. Establishing a welcoming workplace for employees to share ideas/thoughts/concerns, engage in open conversations and collaborate is important to have in place from the very beginning. Then working to grow that culture and foundation.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
An awareness of when to delegate and when to empower is important. WineSociety is still a young company so I wear many hats, but I also have an incredible team that I trust to make the best choice for the company. Allowing them to fulfill their role makes them better at their job, builds confidence and let’s me focus on managing the company as a whole.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
So many people have been influential to me and we have an amazing team of advisors, but I have always admired and been extra grateful for my husband Austin. His company dotloop is what moved us to San Francisco, so it’s very likely WineSociety wouldn’t exist if that move hadn’t happened. That aside, he is the smartest business person I know and I’m incredibly lucky to have him as my sounding board. From what to look for in a new hire, to negotiating deals and reminding me that I need some ‘me’ time, he’s been through it all before and is always available to talk me through a scenario or point me in the direction of someone that can help.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I am just getting started, but ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that what motivates me is helping others. At WineSociety we are creating a society where sharing and enabling people to have more time with family and friends, being environmentally conscious and inspiring confidence + beauty go hand in hand. We may be starting with simple things, but those add up and provide a base to do something powerful in the future.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
-Communication is key — from defining roles to negotiating deals and setting clear expectations and goals.
-Delegate and Empower, a company is not an individual, it is a team that needs to grow together to become strong as a whole.
-Fail Forward — you will never learn if you don’t take risks. Mistakes are bound to happen, but learning from them is what will make you stronger.
-Listening skills — We created WineSociety for our customers, therefore we know how important it is to engage and listen to them.
-Following intuition — as a leader of a company, there is that inner voice that comes out more often than not. You need to know when to “go with your gut” despite what others may say. You know your company, mission and vision better than anyone. But make sure you get supporting facts, opinions and details before making your decision.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Inspiring confidence is something I am very passionate about. We are doing that in a small way with WineSociety in offering a solution that takes the intimidation out of wine, allowing our customers to feel confident in their purchase and to be excited about sharing the with others. I also hope to inspire other female entrepreneurs to have the confidence in pursuing their goals, ideas and dreams.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
To be the best at anything, you need to start with being your best self. This has become very apparent for me the past few months. I let my work/life balance skew heavy on the work side and failed to nurture myself or my family. That isn’t good for anyone. My husband made mention that it was noticeable and I immediately took action and signed up for a fitness challenge, blocked Sundays for family, and started to cook again. Taking care of yourself will enable you to be a better leader, spouse, friend etc.. Don’t put yourself last.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I love this question and have an endless list, but if I were to pick one person it would be… Ellen! I have such admiration for her and must admit I have danced at home when watching her show!
Originally published at medium.com