Six out of ten wine consumers are women and women are willing to pay more for wine that they love. But only a small percentage of companies have women as executives.
Angela Allison is on the path to changing all of that with her year old company WineSociety.Jumping on the growing market of canned wine (*Nielsen reported that canned wine sales were a $45 million business last year and surged 43 percent), Angela has built a subscription based premium wine company that is positioned for women by women.They offer three flavors: TEMPT (red), FATE (white), and CHANCE (rose). Each wine is packaged in WineSociety’s trademark 500ML cans, with variety and single flavor cases available online at www.winesociety.com for just $33/month. Positioning WineSociety as a lifestyle, offering recipes and sharing travel, books and more, Angela wants to create and give more of the wine market to its biggest consumer – women.
Can you point to one event that triggered your interest in your career?
A series of events led up to the creation of WineSociety, but if I had to choose one it would be our first visit to Napa Valley in 2012. Being mid-westerners, wine was foreign to us and we saw it as complex and intimidating, but we had heard how amazing Napa Valley was and had to see it for ourselves. We were a bit apprehensive that we would not fit in or even like it, and this would be a “one and done” visit to check it off our bucket list. As we pulled up to our first winery we were in awe of the beauty. A witty melody echoing through the tasting room and people laughing along lured us in. We were immediately ushered over and welcomed into the group with smiles and a flight of wine. All of our perceived connotations melted away and our passion and love for wine began. We began to invite friends out over the next few years and a seed was planted in the back of our minds on how to share this experience with others.
What about this career choice did you find most appealing?
If you asked me a little over a year ago if I ever saw myself in the wine industry, my answer would have been no. Just a few years ago, my husband and I weren’t even drinking wine and viewed it as intimidating and expensive. I am thankful for our first visit to Napa Valley where our perception changed and we began to fall in love with the wine culture. It was not only beautiful, but it was surprisingly welcoming and filled with opportunity. Being entrepreneurs, that definitely was appealing. A few years later, we seized the opportunity to start a company where we could bring great wine (everywhere!) in simple familiar packaging (cans) without all the complexity and at an affordable price. A drinkable everyday wine.
What steps did you take to begin your education or training?
My background and education are in design which have played a huge part in WineSociety and have given us an edge in the market. Being new to the wine world, I surrounded myself with industry professionals in the winemaking, packaging, legal, technology and fulfillment spaces along with keeping on top of articles, industry reports and other players in the space. This was key to familiarizing myself with the space and helped define the greater opportunity in the industry.
Along the way, were people encouraging or discouraging?
This is a great question as it was the biggest surprise I encountered. I spent my first few weeks knocking on doors and setting up meetings with winemakers and custom crush facilities. I was a young female with no wine experience looking to find a partner to help fulfill our venture… oh and btw, we wanted to package premium wine in cans. Anticipating that I would have the door shut in my face for about 75 percent of my meetings, I was shocked that every single one of them was sparked with interest and eager to work with me. They were all honest and encouraging, immediately offering suggestions of other people I should get in touch with. They all knew the wine industry needed something new and exciting and were willing to help in any way they could.
Did you ever doubt your decision and attempt a career change?
Life has a funny way of directing you in a certain path. I have had a few careers over the years (each for a specific reason and time in my life) and continue to be a serial entrepreneur. From a designer, to being a nurse and remodeling homes, I have many passions and have explored career paths with a few. WineSociety is my newest, and I am excited to see where it takes me and how we can make an impact on the industry.
Can you describe a challenge you had to overcome?
There are a lot of challenges in startups, but most memorable was our first release to our customers. We had initially hired a big player in the packaging space to make our 9-pack boxes, but the mistake we made was trusting and assuming that the box would be perfect and that proper testing would be done. May of 2018, our first shipments went out and we were so excited as they looked AMAZING! That week as deliveries arrived, emails started trickling in with photos and notes of damaged wine and collapsed interiors of the boxes. My heart sank as that is the last thing you want your customers to experience. I posted a video explaining the issue and we immediately paused any further shipments and quickly found a temporary solution to ensure they would be delivered as envisioned. One of our core values is “Fail Forward” and that was a great example. From there on out, we have checks in place and make sure we fully look into all aspects of any project.
What single skill has proven to be most useful?
Having the background in design and ecommerce has definitely allowed us to stand out and have a competitive edge. We are frequently complemented and recognized for our sleek package design and simple user interface. The wine industry is not typically known for having great technology or utilizing more modern design, and we are excited to be able to bring that to the table.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Launching a national brand in an industry that has not been shaken up in a bit!
Any advice for others entering your profession?
The wine industry needs more young and passionate people, women especially. There are so many areas of the industry that could use a fresh twist. The hardest part is taking the leap, but know that there is a whole passionate community ready to help and support you. We all want to create great wine and see each other succeed.