Interview by Evan Faber + Catherine Walsh

Brands with Moxie Sozo
002 Wander + Ivy

Share This Post
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Reddit

Wander + Ivy came to life after Dana Spaulding got tired of opening a bottle of wine she could never manage to finish on her own. But she still wanted the fine wine experience—elegant glass bottles and organic grapes sourced from around the world.

Share This Post
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Reddit

Today we talk with Dana about how she brought her entrepreneur dreams to reality with a product that truly filled a gap in the crowded wine category. Watch, listen or read her story below.

Listen

Watch

Read

Evan Faber
Hello, I’m Evan Faber, host of brands with Moxie Sozo. Moxie Sozo translates to the bold application of intelligence and creativity. We are a global branding agency located in Boulder, Colorado. Today we have Dana Spaulding joining us.

She is the founder and CEO of Wander and Ivy, which is a single-serve organic wine company. If you’ve ever been faced with wanting to open a really great bottle of wine and then not having the willpower to finish it, Wander and Ivy is the solution.

In beautiful, elegant packaging with both single varietal and blends. Wonder and Ivy brings a range of varietals and blends to the market in a single-serve fashion. So, when she couldn’t find this on the market, she decided to create it and we’ve been working with her since 2017, developing her branding, the name, logo, packaging, marketing collateral and website. So without further ado, Dana is going to talk to us about her experience as an entrepreneur. Dana Spaulding, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s so wonderful to have you.

Dana Spaulding
Thank you so much for having me.

Evan Faber
So you have started Wander + Ivy. This is a beautiful brand you’ve built. We’ve worked together for a few years now, with Moxie Sozo, developing the name and the branding and the packaging and website and all that. But this today want to talk about your journey, where it began and where it’s heading. So, again, appreciate you being with us.

Dana Spaulding
Yeah, I love it.

Catherine Walsh
We would love to get into how did Wander + Ivy start, because when we met, we met a few years ago, and you had your corporate job you were at JP Morgan. And you know, I knew you I would see you at events and then all of a sudden you were like, I’m going to become an entrepreneur. I’m starting a business, which I thought was the coolest thing because I had a similar journey. So I was just wondering how did that transition happen? Like what was the impetus for for starting your own company?

Dana Spaulding
Yeah, so I was in private wealth management. And my job as I shared with you guys, but it’s been a while was really managing wealth for successful entrepreneurs. And I’ve always I did that the entire time I was at JP Morgan. So just about seven years. On the East coast, though, I covered hedge fund principals and Wall Street executives. But then when I had the opportunity to come here, it was quite different. And it was a nice shift, I covered a couple of different industries, one of which was the food and beverage space. And so that’s, I feel I’m pretty sure you know, it’s been years like you say, Catherine, but I think those are all the events that we’d run into each other at Naturally Boulder, all the food and Bev, you know, Expo West, and things like that. And I for a long time was talking to my husband, and he actually I should say, I met my husband in private wealth. And so he and I were always wanting to be on the other side of the table, like our clients and start something entrepreneurial. And we were throwing around ideas all the time, most of them silly ideas that didn’t stick, but I really was drawn to the food and beverage space because that’s what I was spending so much of my time with. And so many of the entrepreneurs I worked with were inspiring me. And it really was not until and I feel like Evan, you’ve heard this story play so many times, but it was just my husband saying to me, you know, can you please stop wasting wine? Like, are you really gonna waste another bottle of wine? And I was annoyed because I did want a glass of wine. And we just realized that once I started shopping in the single-serve space, that what exists were largely the cans, bags, boxes, plastics, that for me felt in no way a treat or a luxury. And then we also invested in some of the higher-end more expensive products like a corvin and the other contraptions that do allow you to pull out one glass of wine. So there was a super low-end, low quality category and then there was a super high-end expensive…

I just felt like there’s got to be something in-between that still feels like a treat. That’s still beautiful wine, but also beautiful packaging. And the more and more I searched, I just couldn’t find it. And that for us, I always say was our spark.

And I spent about six to nine months, largely building up the courage but in that process, building out a business plan and getting people’s take in the industry that I respected to really get a sense of Does this make sense? Is this something that could work and then eventually, I got up the courage to leave my day job in the spring 2017.

Catherine Walsh
So okay, so leaving your day job. I know, when I when I went through that similar experience, I was living in New York, and I had my food business and I was doing that on nights and weekends. And I was taking vacation days to do Expo, and I knew eventually I was going to have to leave my day job right. And I didn’t know when that was going to be and so when I you know, it was like early evening, I went for a run in Central Park and as I was nearing the end of my run, I looked up in this tree and there was a raccoon, just hanging out in this tree. And I looked up and I said, You know what, I’m gonna resign tomorrow. I don’t know what the connection was. But that was just the thought process. It was so random. And so when I got home, I said to my husband, I’m gonna, you know, I think now’s the time. I’m going to resign tomorrow. But it was a scary moment. I mean, it was also a relief, because I had made that decision. But it was also scary because I had been in corporate life for so long to actually leave that behind. I mean, how did you find that transition? How did you navigate that?

Dana Spaulding
I love your story. And I found it absolutely terrifying. And it was a huge shift. For me, and I know it’s different for everybody, for me, because I was hoping to turn to the people that I worked with in the industry for both advice and capital, I knew that I needed to step away I think sooner than some people would, because I think, you know, the longer you can juggle both the better, especially financially. And I though knew that I was in a little bit of a unique position because I would hopefully go to them for some capital because we’re so capital intensive, I knew we needed to raise capital. And so what I did with my husband was just make sure financially, we were in a good place, and make sure okay, we’re gonna get that bonus a year end bonus, we’re gonna make sure that we save. And so I knew that we were, we were planning financially. And so that’s why I stepped away, I think a little earlier than a normal entrepreneur would try to balance it. And then I immediately you know, as I had those conversations, fortunately, so many of my clients that said, Great, I like they all made their wealth as an entrepreneur, you know, that’s how taking a risk is how they became a client of ours. And so they had said call me when you need capital. And so those were the magic words, and I was just, I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing response. But I will I will say when I left, it was a huge transition, mentally going from an extremely cushy job that was, I was so independent, you know, having that financial independence was important to me to establish and having the structure of the day to day, the corporate world. So I felt like, it mentally it was something that I really had to wrap my head around and get comfortable with and with the new life that I was building structure around the, you know, lack of structure that we had at home. And so, it was definitely I would say, a couple of months of adjustment for me and figuring out what that meant for me. And fortunately, my husband was so supportive throughout the whole time and we prepared like I said, as much as possible going in, but I think it’s hard to prepare how you’re going to feel emotionally about it. And it was a huge shift for me. And, you know, I think fortunately having a community of other entrepreneurs was helpful. But still, like I said, everybody handles it differently. And so it was something I just had to adjust to build myself.

Catherine Walsh
Yeah, being an entrepreneur is definitely not a glamorous thing. I mean, it’s a bit of a roller coaster. So in terms of your community, you found a lot of strength in your community and networking, and just in general, helping you to start the business and handle the transition?

Dana Spaulding
I did, I would say it’s definitely evolved because the community I had was largely, I see people like you, Catherine, who were already successful at it and might have been years past the super, super early stage. And so I found that although it was very helpful at first to have a community of people that were really successful, and they were definitely people that I turned to for advice. I also found that I needed to build a community of people who were like in the trenches. So in a similar stage because I do think and I’m sure you can attest to just the different stages. They’re just wildly different in terms of what you’re going through and the challenges that you’re facing. And so I found that at first, I didn’t have super early stage, founders that I could turn to. So that was something that I had to build over time. But now I think, you know, there’s so many communities that fortunately I’ve been introduced to, that’s really been helpful. And we have, like, for example, one thing that’s been huge, the women’s investment network within RBC, Barbara Bauer, who is a huge advocate of women. And if you don’t know her, I would be happy to make an introduction. She’s remarkable. And she’s been, she has put together a small group of women, including myself that are in a similar stage where we meet monthly (now it’s virtually). But it’s great just to talk about like, what we’re proud of, what challenges we’re going through. And it feels like we’re all in a similar stage and we can relate and it’s also really great to still have that group of people like who have, founded, scaled, exited, and can talk about that experience. I’m just not quite there yet. But you know, I think both of those are so important for your mental state as an entrepreneur.

Catherine Walsh
Well, and you bring up a good point, because you have to carve out a new network as you’re embarking on a new business. So what are your tips for doing that? You know, I mean, I think some people are more extroverted than others, right? And might find networking a little easier than others. But I mean, how did you approach it? How did you find your new network?

09:32
You know, it’s been a little bit fortunately, an organic process, for example, with Rockies Venture Club in the women’s investment network. For me again, because I was raising capital, I was getting introduced to these types of groups and then within them finding the people that were really championing the, you know, for example, if the women’s investment network, so I have to say I haven’t had a super proactive approach and saying let me find these groups, it’s fortunately been organic. But my advice would be, you know, to ask with, especially within investment communities, I think, at least right now, it’s growing so much that there seems to be more and more individuals that are focused on building the female entrepreneurs group within that. And you know, now there’s so many investment groups that are specifically looking, of course to fund female ambassador, female entrepreneurs. And so that’s been great too, because obviously, if a fund is only looking at females, they’re the ones being introduced. So what I’ve tried to just ask in those interactions are (particularly if it’s, uh, you know, you’re not right for our portfolio today, how else can we help you) I think a great ask is would love to get to know the other female entrepreneurs that you think are rock stars that I could learn from. So that’s, that’s the way I’ve gone about it. And it’s been a helpful way to get introduced to brand new, amazing women.

Catherine Walsh
Right, so at this point now you’ve been in business for a few years. I mean, what was the most challenging part? You know, up to this point? I know everything can be challenging. Every day’s a new day. But like, have you found something that was particularly challenging that that you had to overcome?

Dana Spaulding
You know, I feel like I’ve mentioned a couple of times I think raising capital is just a challenge. It’s a full-time job, especially with a small team. I think especially raising it pre-revenue for me was one of the most challenging things because you’re just fighting to show projections that you literally, Who the heck knows you know, like, you’re you spend so much time on projections. I felt like it was. It was really defeating at times and we spent so much time on something but who the heck knows you try to be as smart with your assumptions and everything you’re building out in terms of where you can take this, but truly, you know, I just felt like let me just start this thing and I’ll show you what I can do but but like I said, we’re capital intensive in that in order to make the economics work we, we buy wine in bulk, and then ship that to bottle label and package for distribution and so that upfront cost of production is just really large. And I found that one of the most challenging things was raising capital pre-revenue when it was truly just a concept. And fortunately, I was able to successfully close and that was wonderful. And I tried my absolute best to get in front of as many women as possible, but it is still true and I’d love to hear your experience, Catherine, but it still was true for me and that a lot of the people in most rooms are men, and they oftentimes especially beginning just didn’t get it because Evan, although you love the product, and I think you’ve gotten it from start, a lot of men will say like I drink a whole bottle. I don’t get it like this is silly. They just didn’t truly get what we were trying to achieve. And our target demographic being female millennial, those were very rarely the type of people that were in the investment pitches and so I found that to be a challenge and I know so many other females find that to be a challenge but fortunately we have an amazing group of investors today but it was an uphill battle and I think it just it always is and I’m always raising capital. We’re about to close our next round in three weeks and so which is great but no, thank you but you know, you’re already looking at Okay, what’s what’s the next that we need? But I there’s like you said there’s countless challenges, but I think that is one that is just so imperative for the company to be sustainable, at least today to get us to that sustainable growth is raising capital and it’s, it’s always tough.

Catherine Walsh
Did you find working with female investors, so how did it shake out like, did you have more success? I mean, you don’t have to share all the details, did you find that it was just a more welcoming room with female investors versus male investors or was it a mixed bag? I definitely felt that the the more females I could get in front of, the better,but you know, ultimately our our investor group is primarily men and that’s shifting slightly for this new round, which is awesome. But it’s primarily men. And for a single-serve organic wine company that’s just very interesting to me that we have so many males but fortunately I have amazing supportive men, but they’re the people that finally they’re the people that got it and there were, you know, hundreds of other men that didn’t get it. So I definitely think that it resonated in general more with the women there were just so fewer women in most rooms. So the opportunity to get in front of them was just, you know, the opportunity to get a yes and make a make a closed you know, funding with them just was a lot less with them. So I’m super excited about the women that are coming in to this round. They get it, they’re excited about it. And I love the men that we have. But it just it, I found that with the males, it took longer. And it’s okay to be able to show, you know, all the analytics behind, here’s what works. Here’s our projections, here’s the traction we’ve had. But oftentimes it took a lot longer to get over that initial hurdle of like, why does this make sense? Help me understand the concept, whereas women pretty instantly got it because they have the exact same experience all the time. That’s great. That’s great. So when you’re talking about designing a brand, right, how did the packaging come into how how it was being developed when you’re, you know, your target is millennial females. But, you know, I’m sure you wanted to speak to both males and females because most people drink wine, right. So how did that all evolve?

Dana Spaulding
So I this was an area where it was very helpful to have founder relationships in the food and beverage space so my first step was reaching out to founders to say, Who have you worked with in packaging and who do you love and Moxie obviously was on the list. And I interviewed several groups just to understand everything out there. And in like, No way plugging Moxie I’ve absolutely loved, I just have adored this relationship. And, and, and I also adore our packaging, and so I’m so glad for where it’s been, but what or where, how it’s come how its evolved. But, you know, it’s very surreal since it was over three years ago when we sat down initially, once we decided once I, was just me, you know, it was very much just a concept decided on Moxie, and they felt like they were the perfect fit for us for many reasons. We had a long discovery session and I just kind of like spilled everything that I wanted this brand to be. And one of the things that I said I still feel strongly about is having this have been focused with our target demographic being female millennials, but then also being very specific with a team of there are some brands out there that are great pink and sparkly. And I do not want that I want it to be something that is targeted has a target, but that also can resonate with males and females because I know my husband, wants to have a glass of wine every now and then. And this is oftentimes a challenge for him too. But I, you know, I didn’t want to be all over the place. I wanted to be focused but resonate at the same time and still be something where it would be attractive for a male to pick up in-store. And so what I had described to them was having it be an overall feminine product, but with touches of masculinity. And I think that we just, I mean, obviously I’m biased, but I think that we, that they achieved that so well with everything about our packaging with our label design, and I’ll also touch on the fact that one of the things that I really when it came to the packaging that I was really felt strongly about was it being a premium look and a premium overall package and everything else that existed just didn’t feel like that to me, like I said, the aluminum, plastic and, you know, the cardboard, different types of boxes, they just didn’t feel like that. So I felt like glass was something that would really elevate the overall experience and what a lot of people expect when they’re drinking a glass of wine. So I wanted it to be a glass bottle. I also wanted to design the bottle to be unlike anything else that existed so there already wasn’t someone you know, a preconceived notion about the the quality of wine inside because I think a lot of people when they see cans, and plastics, whether it’s good or not, they’ll assume that it’s low quality, so I didn’t want that with ours. We have a glass bottle. And then when it came to the label, like I said, wanted it to be both feminine with touches of masculinity and I think we really nailed it, we get that (fortunately) response all the time the Moxie team heard me which I loved and helped create this product that truly does feel premium on the shelf that we can deliver at at affordable price point. So that was long, but that’s kind of all the things that went into my decision-making and partnering with Moxie was just amazing in the process.

Catherine Walsh
We feel the same!

Evan Faber
Terrific. I want to go back for a minute. You mentioned that you’re talking to a room of investors, the power dynamic is is what it is. And it’s a very intimidating place to be, I would imagine, as any entrepreneur, and now you’re you’re presenting a product that the audience you’re presented to might not get. They don’t get they don’t. So how did you overcome that? What were your strategies to counter that for all the brands out there that are creating new categories and looking to disrupt, they’re going to have to do a little bit of that dance of education and making a case for why it is important, what they’re doing.

Catherine Walsh
For sure, I entirely agree we it definitely was a lot about making the case. I think honestly, a lot of it was confidence and this is going to the piece of, unfortunately, I fall into the stereotype of conservative, realistic, sometimes less confident, female stereotype and I felt like I needed to lift my confidence overall and go in as prepared as possible and really prove because our female predictions tend to be you know, a fraction of what male predictions are so so much I felt like my job was to make a case as to why this works and and show the limited traction I had, but then also project out to show the potential for the brand because I think that was something that I learned was that I was always wanting to be conservative and be realistic and not be seen as an entrepreneur that’s like heads in the clouds. But then I learned that the response from investors was you need to show me best-case scenario, you need to get me excited. And that was a lesson that I definitely needed to learn and so I tried to build in more best-case scenarios when speaking with individuals while also I think being rooted in realistic assumptions. So that was a piece of it and then you know, for me, I did as you know, it almost seems like crazy I did as many trips to retailers so in Colorado, we don’t have chain business in alcohol. So you know, we can have the one whole foods that has alcohol, so it truly was going to every single retailer and getting as many yes no or maybe really yes and maybes from people who would say if you bring me this product, I will buy it. And so although I never got, you know, you’ll never get letters of intent from any of these retailers, I tried to build up as many, you know, I think we got to like 50 “these retailers are very likely to bring in the product.” They’ve tasted everything and I went in with little mini samples for them all, the product was almost completed, because when we initially just finalized you know, I was printing out, I had my printer printout is the minimal amount and I was going to as many retailers so that I could say to investors, listen, we don’t have true sales. But we have gone to this many retailers and they have said, we love the packaging, we love the price point, it’s gorgeous. We would put this, we will likely put this on our shelf if you get it to us by a certain date. So I just kept trying to build that case around, you know, here’s the historical stuff of the way in which the can space has exploded which has and here’s the case for convenient, alternative wine to alternative portion sizes. And here’s why ours is better. And here’s all the retailers that are likely to buy it when we bring it to market. So it was such a challenge. But I think confidence was a huge piece of that, as well as doing all the work. But then also getting in front of people who were very intimidating to say, Here’s why. Here’s what I can achieve. And here’s what the potential could look like and potential ROI for you, Investor. I think getting those pre-orders. It’s such a smart thing to do, because you’re actually practicing your pitch with retailers, right, which is your pitch to what you’re going to have to give to your investors, right. And then it just bolsters your deck for the investors because you’re like, Look, I have all these pre-orders. They’re just waiting for the product to be made. And please invest in my company now. Yeah, it’s a smart strategy for sure.

Evan Faber
You throw out two words, which I think are maybe uncommon when describing an entrepreneurial archetype, conservative and realistic, which is a beautiful thing. Because if you’re conservative and realistic with a vision, you’re really bridging two powerful worlds and bringing them together. But it’s a note for people that maybe don’t feel they fit whatever character traits have been put out in the world as you need to be these things in order to succeed. You can be who you are, and leverage your own strengths to do that.

Catherine Walsh
I totally agree with that. And I’m, so I actually recently said to my husband, because there was another entrepreneur in RDC, who I very much admire, but someone recently referred to them as irreverent, you know, in their, in their pitches. They’re like, you know, they’ll curse, they’re hilarious. And it’s, and it was funny because I just thought to myself, like, that’s just never going to be me. And that’s, that’s okay. You know, like, it’s, sometimes I think you see these especially, you know, I’m just generalizing but I think also like males who will be up there and be irreverent and that’s just not at all my style. And that’s okay. You know, like I don’t, it’s okay if I don’t fit whatever I think needs to be or whatever anyone thinks needs to be an entrepreneur. I love that you said that, it’s definitely something I’ve had to get more comfortable with that I don’t fit a box, but it’s something that, you know, I’ve, it’s my own thoughts about what an entrepreneur is doesn’t necessarily mean what anyone else thinks it needs to be, you know, and just being confident in your own skin and paving your own way. We talked about transitioning from corporate to becoming an entrepreneur, and you’re a new mom. So how was that transition? I’m sure that that was another transition that had to take place, right? It was and I probably have to pick your brain down the road, Catherine on everything you’ve learned. I mean, I have a five year old I know you have a baby but it definitely gets gets easier. I will say it already has I, you know, I, going into it, you know, it was something we were so excited about, but I knew I wasn’t going to have a large maternity leave, if at all. And so I went into it thinking I’m really preparing from a team standpoint, you know, I’m going to take a few days off, but that’s probably going to be it. And you know, and also just just like I said, mentally getting myself ready for that and knowing take the time that I need to truly recover, but then it’s probably going to be pretty quick. Although slow, you know, it’s quick in that it was a few days later, but it was slow in how much I did every day. But it really was, you know, the next week slowly phasing back into the company with how much time I spent, and I will say those first few weeks especially but even just months, were incredibly challenging and finding the time, especially it’s your first you have no idea what you’re doing trying to be the best mom that you can but I also love what I’m doing as a CEO so I found oftentimes saying to my husband I like trying to balance wanting to be a full time mom and a full time CEO and it’s very hard. But after I will say you know, after the first two months, COVID came into the world so that was a separate challenge. An entirely different type of challenge but I will say after the first few months with my husband helped him with our nanny who’s here now with her help, I think we found a really great way. I I truly, and I always recommend this have on my calendar like seven to eight that is I’m feeding it literally says feed and play with Malin and then five to 7:30pm. Nanny leaves I feed and play put her back and put her to sleep. And all other hours of the day, I can be a CEO which is great. But I truly tried to put it on my calendar. And I think I’ve been better. I think there were, there was just a period of time where I was trying to do both at the same time. And I would never recommend that, you know, I will say there were there were certain times of quarantine, where we were truly just us, baby, where we had to do it all. And that was that was very unique to the world we live in today. But once we, you know, felt like it was comfortable to have help here, carving out that time has allowed me to feel like I truly get that time with her and it makes me happy. And I think I’ve also learned that everybody, that amount of time that they spend with their child, and what makes them happy, is so different. So you know, there’s not like you can read it in a book of like, what’s going to make you happy, how much time you should spend, and I found Okay, these chunks of the day, make me really happy to spend with her and I need to carve them out and then all the other times, as much as possible, just dedicated to the business. So, that’s been making me very happy recently. And I know it’ll change and evolve over time. But I think right now, you know, five months in, we’re in a really great place. And she’s what fortunately also, she’s sleeping very well. So, I know that’s a huge thing. She’s healthy, she’s happy. So I’m very blessed and fortunate with that, Gus, my husband has been so supportive. But then also, I think both of us are being really religious with family time and then work time. So that’s how we’re balancing it so far. It’s definitely something you have to be intentional about, because they can easily get away from you. For sure.

Evan Faber
Yeah, absolutely. Because, I mean, you’re, I mean, in the situation where you’re at right now you’re inventing every single playbook as it goes, you know, you’re you’re reaching out you’re getting advice, but new parent, new venture. And so you’re constantly going. And so how, have you run into the challenge of just feeling overwhelmed? I would imagine, or how do you take that break to recharge for you when really the momentum of what you’re working on doesn’t seem like it would allow for those types of moments. So what types of advice would you have for people right now that are balancing family, balancing work, trying to remain themselves and maintain their sanity to take those moments?

Dana Spaulding
I agree with all the above. So one thing that I’m trying to be, and I love the word you use Catherine, just very intentional about, is truly taking time. I think everyone, start-up or not, is having trouble taking because no one’s really going on vacation. No one’s taking the time. Because we’re all working from home and that can just, like you said, it can bleed in to everything meaning working all day long and not turning it off. And so I’ve been trying to be very intentional about if I set aside time to fully take a day off, to take a day off and let my team know like, this is a day that I’m taking I’ve actually said to, to my team on times where I’m feeling exhausted, I need to recharge I’m taking this day. If anything’s urgent, you can obviously always call me but I’m going to take this day and please, I’ve been trying like more and more to say this to them because I do think people feel hesitant to take days because they’re home. And I’ve been trying to tell them please take time you need too, you know as a start up, we don’t have I fully trust it. We don’t have like a formal vacation policy or plan. I really just let them know when you need time, let me know, and actually take it off because you need to recharge. And for example, pre-COVID, my VP of Sales she knows I love her, she’s remarkable but she was doing all-day work and then you know Catherine all night for all the samplings that you need to do, she, I mean, especially because she was doing I was doing it all she was doing it all and I really had to say to her, and I try to position it as I need you long term. And I need my money me long term to be okay and fit to run the company and this needs to be sustainable. The way you’re spending your time, I love that you’re dedicating so much time, but 100-hour weeks are not sustainable, and I need you to be sustainable because you’re that important to me. So I’ve tried to articulate that to them. But then also, sometimes my husband reminds me that I have to do that for myself as well. And I do have one or two and I have many wonderful investors, like I said, but particularly one or two that will literally ask me before any other financial question, how are you? Are you taking time tell me the last someone actually said, I’d like you to report to me the next, I need you to take a day and you describe what the day and like you need to take a vacation. And so I’m trying my best to truly do that and to let the team know that they should do that as well. And so it’s challenging. But I’m trying to be good about doing that. So I have for example, I just booked, which I’m very excited, a chiropractor and massage at the end of the day on Friday, which I will make sure my team knows…yeah, and so I just think it’s important to make sure that you do that because I do think that entrepreneurs, at least I think that sometimes you have to be running, you’re taking people’s money, you have to be responsible about it. You have to drive business, but it’s not going to be sustainable if I’m not healthy. So if I if I don’t take time I won’t be healthy. So trying to remind myself about that all the time.

Evan Faber
Excellent. I want to go back because you really went through a transformation that you talked about, you might have been confident in the idea. And that might have given you some support when you might have been questioning, because it was spot on. I mean, the market opportunity, there was like a spotlight on it. It’s we’re missing the whole mid market of the single serve wine, which is what fueled me greatly knowing I, you know, got something, but still, the personal transformation has to occur to back it up and you went through that. And this, this question relates to anybody who’s pushing the edge of their comfort zone, whether they’re inside of an office and they’re trying to stand out and be heard and have a voice and push new initiatives, to an entrepreneur that’s trying to create something new in the world. What strategies did you have around that confidence building? The confidence building, acceptance of who you are, acceptance of what your strengths are, and then working positive emotions into it. Because it’s the wind in the sails of a person, an idea of confidence is, and people feed off of that. They might not remember what you say, but they’ll remember how you make them feel. You’re confident, they’re confident, and it’s a good start pitching elsewhere. So how did you focus on that? What were you telling yourself or were there any other practices that you use?

Catherine Walsh
You know, those are all such great points and I will say I mean, it’s like constantly, I’m still trying to build myself up all the time. And I think the more research I did, the better in terms of building my case so I felt like my confidence came from how educated or knowledgeable I felt, and Evan, you know, that’s one of the first things I did. I was leaving JPMorgan and I covered food and beverage, but by no means did I feel like I was a wine expert. And I knew that that would be one of the first questions that people in the room like, why on earth? are you knowledgeable about this in anyway? Why should I give you my money. So it was really important to me to get my sommelier certification. So that was, for me just a way to build more legitimacy with what I was doing and credibility with, you know, when I walked in the room, even if we didn’t talk about that at all. I just felt like it made me more credible. And again, even if I didn’t mention it, although I would try to bring it up in conversation. But I felt more confident, that led to my overall I think confidence, and so, I’ve always felt no matter where you are, like you said, whether you’re a startup or a big corporation, the more you can do to feel smart and knowledgeable when you walk into that room, the better because again, even if you don’t have to recite every fact that you know about whatever you’re talking about, it makes you feel that way. And you have this aura about you that I know what I’m doing. And I have certain level of confidence. Um, so that for me was huge, because I definitely felt nervous about people saying you have no experience in the wine industry. So why.

Dana Spaulding
And then my next piece, which again, I think can relate to people in every industry is surrounding yourself with people who do have that experience, because I did not. And so, a couple of ways I did that, when I was identifying the wines that we would first work with, I did focus groups. And you know, even if, at that point, no one was like, even an informal advisor, I would just ask them, you know, hey, I’m putting together these groups and I did two separate groups. You know, I did one I did several with target demographic to get that female millennial perspective. But then I would also do groups with people who kind of terrified me, you know, they were the master soms, they owned restaurants, just very respected people in the industry, to literally fill out feedback on wines that I would sample them of good, every piece of feedback, they would have to help me select it. So I felt like that gave me more confidence too, to really be able to say to, you know, especially investors, you know, these wines are great, and they’re at an affordable price point and this target demographic loves them, and would prefer when I lined them up, you know, next to all the competitors would prefer our product over theirs. So surrounding myself with those types of people that made me feel knowledgeable in the space and give a little bit more credibility to what we were doing was also helpful. And I think you know, anyone can whether it’s mentors or just surrounding yourself with people who do have that experience, I think is so important, especially if you’re a solo founder, which I am, you know, it can be very lonely. And those are the hardest times when you’re lonely getting depleted and feeling like I can’t do this, surrounding yourself with people that really remind you if this is a great idea what you’re doing is awesome. And we believe in it. And here’s why it’s so credible. So those were probably the biggest things that helped me feel confident initially walking into those rooms and building up the strength to pitch.

Catherine Walsh
And you mentioned, feeling lonely as an entrepreneur. And this is, this is a topic that I feel doesn’t get enough coverage, because being an entrepreneur can be quite lonely, right? And it is, you know, one day you can be at the top of the world and the next day is like a disaster for whatever reason, right? So how, how did you are I mean, I’m sure it’s an ongoing thing. I mean, how do you manage that loneliness? How do you? I mean, I know you have a team and I’m sure you find strength with them. But when you’re a decision maker at your level, I mean, how do you how do you get past the loneliness? How do you manage it? I definitely found especially the first year to be incredibly lonely and, you know, I, fortunately, I’ve mentioned it many times, but I do think the support system, whether it be your family, or your friends are so helpful, but I do, but you know, it’s, I agree with you. And then it’s very lonely because, you know, most of my friends are leaving their day jobs to take the biggest risk of their life to start, you know, to start a business. And so that was hard. But fortunately, my husband listened all the time. He jokes all the time that he’s like our chief, people always say, you know, did he? Is he a part of the company because he’s a part of our story. But we joke that he’s our chief therapist, because he listens. And that, for me was huge. And I think no matter. You know, who it is in your life, but having someone that you can talk to was really, really important for the first year. But I, you know, there were many times where he said, You know, I’m sorry, I can’t relate to that, but I’m here to listen and, you know, it was still so important and he recognized that you couldn’t relate to the extreme highs, the lows, and I think I’ve gotten better at staying in the middle of my emotions, but I just I think in general my personality is high highs and low lows and it was even more extreme as an entrepreneur. I mean, like you said, it’s day to day but it’s also like every day has so many it’s an everyday is a roller within the day. Email to email, really.

Dana Spaulding
I found like having an outlet of someone that would listen for that first year because I didn’t I mean, it was just me for a long time. And so I found that to be really important. And honestly, especially to the point of like wellness and mental health, it was also having outlets for physical exercise for me, which was really helpful of yoga was so important and so making sure that I was finding time to ground myself in what made me happy. Be outside of work. So yoga and running and finding that space for that was really important. But I felt like I need to talk about this, whatever it is, and I need someone to listen. And now I’m and my, I think Gus is thrilled that I my team has expanded. So I have others who I can talk to you. But I do agree with you in that it is a different oftentime level of conversation with people who are not the decision makers, and you have to hold on to and not necessarily disclose everything that’s going on, you know, like we’re running out of money at some point…that’s, you know, and I joke about that too, but I think there have been times where you’re like, I’m getting pretty tight and can’t mention this to anyone else is really hard. And so those are times I think are the hardest where you just have to, you know, for lack of better words, just kind of like carry that weight and just, it’s not necessarily something that you can talk to with everyone else. I have found it to be incredibly valuable to bring on more executive level. I’m super excited to bring on our, we just hired a CMO and COO, which is so and i think i’m not sure if Evan, you’ve met her yet, but I know some folks on the team have been introduced to her virtually and, and that’s a good example of expanding the team. And she’s actually someone who has built, scaled and exited other companies as well. So although she’s obviously not in it as a co-founder with me, she does relate to a lot of the founder-type issues. So that has been really helpful and bringing someone on that’s had that experience and is very much invested in Wander+Ivy. So expanding the team has been very helpful, but I think in the first year, it was having someone to like truly listen, and you know, that was a journey. I feel like for us as a couple as well to say, you know, at the end of the day, I need that time for you to listen and being very direct about it. You know, like, this is what I need for my mental health. And you know, because there were times where it was in passing, like, tell me about your day. And it was like, hey, I need it, we need an hour for you, for us to just talk about this. And now, he’s still there. But expanding the team is huge, and hopefully something that will continue to provide support for me as the founder.

Evan Faber
Excellent. And we’re winding down a little bit here want to transition, we’ve built some of the themes that have come up are transformation. And one of the transformations taking place right now, are brands that have relied on retail that are now going into the digital space. Is the segway working because I’m trying to get away from all this amazing, you know, personal growth to bring it to the brand. But a lot of brands are scrambling, and you’ve had success with influencers. But what has been your approach to digital and raising awareness and playing in that space? And your your advice to people that are running to try and figure out how to tell their story.

Catherine Walsh
Yeah, that’s such a great point, you know, going into the year, I just, you know, I was lucky it to an extent, you know, we were prepared, but it was lucky and fortunate timing that we had our website, thanks to you all, I think in a beautiful place, and it continues to evolve. But end of last year, in December, we launched our direct to consumer business. You can go on our website, we can ship to just about 40 states direct, which was huge for us. And it’s something that took so long to get the license and the permits and have a website up and running, you know, from the compliance and all of that it, it took a long time. And we were finally ready to go and honestly my plan was okay, have a baby and then focus on direct to consumer. So that was our plan for 2020 always and then the world changed. And you know, I was disappointed to see, you know, because there were highs and lows within the alcohol industry in particular, like groceries of people running and hoarding. So there was this huge spike. And then there was this huge drop, because people had already stocked up. And so there was this lull period of time with our distributors for in-store distribution that said, you know, we’re good on product. And that was challenging because it wasn’t growing the way I wanted it to. But kind of at the same time I was looking for, as I mentioned, someone to come in for our CMO and COO role. And when we identified this person, we did this honestly, we’re only just finalizing it. Now we’ve kind of been in this test period, which I highly recommend for brands to kind of test it out. And one of the big things that she came in to say was, you know, together we sat down to think through exactly what you’d mentioned Evan was how do we pivot and focus more of our (especially marketing dollars) on direct-to-consumer because we’re no longer spending money on sampling, as Catherine knows, you know, you’re no longer doing trade shows, you’re no longer spending any of the dollars, we were doing two to three samplings a week plus the trade shows. So there was a ton of marketing dollars that we tried to figure out how to direct to our online business. And what we decided to test was really, really hyper-targeted social influencer programs, which you mentioned, Evan. And that, for us, has been a huge success. I mean, we’re two and a half months into this test period. But I’m so proud to say that every month since beginning of year and again, we just launched in December, so every month since the beginning of the year, we’ve doubled sales month over month, and then in May we tripled sales.

Dana Spaulding
Thank you, and then this month again, you know, like, once you triple, once you double every month, you’re like, oh geez, am I gonna be able to do that again. And so, fortunately, we have for six months, and then we tripled sales. And then this month, it looks like we’re already exceeding last month. I couldn’t be more proud of the success we’ve seen. I think it shows, just again, a new way of that, for a while, but I think especially now people are shopping. And it’s a way for us to get to this target demographic in a really hyper-targeted way. And, you know, it’s normally a 24-hour period. I mean, our first test, it was a Instagram story, and it was 24-hour period of time, and it led to about $13 to $14,000 of sales in 24-hour period. So we’re learning that, you know, again, we kind of said, Okay, we have these dollars, let’s dedicate them and see what happens. And now we’ve already as a team decided, Okay, we’ve seen success, we’re going to build on that. And I’ve learned that it’s a very sophisticated industry. You know, I feel like sometimes that space can seem not as serious as marketing, but it has been such a sophisticated industry to work with and we built out really great well-structured negotiations with them of how we’re going to work together and how we’re going to grow over time and we’ve seen so much success and so for us, that’s our way of identifying who our target audience is and giving them a really quick way to buy, and fortunately you guys have helped us make a really beautiful website that I think overall gives the same experiences we went into saying we need to have the website mirror what our overall brand product and brand represents is that premium luxury vibe. And I think we’ve done that and I just hope we can keep growing it! So you know, we are just so excited about what we’ve been able to do and we want people to have that experience of you know, you’re working from home, you’re shopping from home and hopefully you’re sipping some wine at home.

Evan Faber
Whoa! Brilliant. So you we could have a whole separate conversation on you in over you know, a little over three years built a supply chain, develop, grew a market, a category, you know, have grown the business and get to all the practical tips and guidance that you shared. What you gave today was a gift that we rarely get to see and get to hear about on what it takes emotionally and functionally to get through the journey of being an entrepreneur. And that’s also valuable, extremely valuable. One thing we like to do at the end is a bold question that’s tailored to you. That’s a little playful, but you said you’re a somm, I think a level two somm, and have played with a lot of different varietals. And so if you had to pick a wine varietal that best describes you, what would it be?

Dana Spaulding
That’s such a good fun question. So the first thing that comes to mind I’m just going to go with I could probably go with several different things but so our wines in general, I think you know Evan are all I really wanted them to be recognizable grapes, chardonnay, cab, from recognizable regions because our bottle is so unique. But the one thing I love about our red blend and I say this all the time and it’s definitely my favorite is that we have the recognizable merlo but then we also have this unique bobal which most people ask me to repeat because they aren’t sure what I just said. And they just don’t recognize it. And so I probably go with bobal one because I just love it that it’s in it and but what the bobal does to be I’m just laughing. What bobal does for the red blend is it gives it a chocolate, which I want. I love chocolate, but it also has a spice and I feel like I love the feistiness that a brings. It really is like this traditional merlo that I think some people think are really boring. So I like that this like, is the feisty spicy add to that bobal. It’s Spanish, so it’s European, I’m I’m Italian, but close enough. But I just I love that it’s different and also makes it really unique. So those are some of the characteristics that if I had to pick one to describe myself, I hope I hope that’s a good one.

Evan Faber
Oh, it was a great one. Yeah, for sure. A good metaphor for both you and the journey that you went on bringing spice and livening up a category and all kinds of things. Oh, last thing is a shameless plug. Is there anything we haven’t mentioned about Wander + Iv? You know, where you can be found any special things you want to call out about the brand and let people know about?

Dana Spaulding
Thank you. So, a couple things that I always like to say and then I’ll say where you can buy it, is that I’m super proud that Wander + Ivy is certified women-owned, if it’s not already obvious, but we’re certified, which is really important. And we’re certifed disability-owned and we’re 1% for the Planet. So I’m super proud of that as well. We give 1% of our profits to charitable organizations delivering healthy and organic food to those in need. And all of that can be found on our website details if people want to learn more. And then also where you could find us, is our beautiful website that Moxie has helped us design and on the website, folks can see that they can either just order online and ship to their door, we ship to most states (not all) but they can ship to their door and customize what they’re looking for. But if you’re looking for (especially if you’re in Colorado, California, New York and soon Texas), we also are available in-store and we have a full list of where you can just find one or two in-store if you want to give it a try. So we have that whole list. And if you absolutely love it, you can sign up for our wine club, which is quarterly shipments and a ton of discounts and fun things that come along with that, free shipping and everything. So those are the three options you can find on our website. And I think I hit it all.

Catherine Walsh
You use organic grapes, right? Oh, have we not even touched on that? I think that’s fascinating. It’s so funny. I feel like I say it all the time it that. So yes, that’s a huge piece of it. Thank you for jumping in. Before we end I’ll just say one of the other things that’s been very clear on our label is that we are made with organic grapes. And so one of the things that I found when researching the industry was that there was very little, to no focus, in organic, in wine, and I came from Catherine, you’re like food and beverage world, always going to Naturally Boulder and Expo West, which everything is focused on the ingredients that go inside the bottle. And I found it fascinating that most of the wine industry doesn’t include any ingredients. So most consumers have no idea about what’s in their wine. And so when I made the wine, not only did I want high-quality and just good delicious wines, I also wanted it to be organic. So all of our wines are certified organic, meaning, you know, no use of pesticides, herbicides, any negative, harmful, potentially harmful ingredients. And all just really clean and what’s exciting about that is, you know, you’re not putting any of those things in your body, but also, with wine in particular, the combination of all those additives, high alcohol, sugar leads to terrible feelings the next day. So I always say, you know, especially if you’re someone who has those negative experience the next day after having a few glasses of wine, try clean, natural lines that have so much less added to it. It’s a clean wine and it’s been exciting to see consumers I just yesterday actually got just a unsolicited, not in a survey, consumer email that said, you know, I’m no longer getting headaches, I love it. And it just, I actually put it on our Instagram to say these messages mean the world because I genuinely do think people are able to enjoy the wines but not have some of the negative experiences that they do with some of the mass-produced tons-of-additives-type wines out there. So thank you, Catherine for bringing that up. It’s so much harder to maintain an organic supply chain. You know, so you know, and it’s something I’m so proud of. And, and a lot of something else, I think you know, is that a lot of other brands, there are words that people use that mean nothing from a certification standpoint, like natural and clean, and I know I’ve said them in conversation, but on a label, it means nothing. And I think consumers are becoming more aware of that, so the fact that we have we’re truly certified organic have “made with organic grapes” on our label is something I’m so proud of and truly has a legal definition as to what that means. And so I know you’re nodding your head and it is incredibly hard to do, and I love that we have it. You know, it’s been really, like I said, exciting to see consumers respond to that, especially as they get more and more aware of their wines like they are with their food, looking at the ingredients and being more mindful.

Evan Faber
Excellent. Well, you never know what you’re gonna get Brands with Moxie Sozo, you came for the branding advice, this time you got hangover tips. And organic wine. So there you go. Dana, thank you so so, so much for joining us today and one of our most cherished brands, really appreciate your time. Thanks for being with us.

Catherine Walsh
Of course. Thank you guys. I mean, I am truly I know you guys have not asked me to say this. But I’ve absolutely loved my experience of working with you all. I send everyone that I know your way because I’ve just, I think you’re such an amazing partner and you absolutely captured everything that I wanted to create with this in our product and our brand. So thank you for all of your hard work. Thank you.

Evan Faber
Amazing conversation with Dana. It’s so rare to have an entrepreneur be transparent and open in this forum, this type of forum. So really valuable to hear a little bit behind the scenes of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. The bold moves that we can talk about here. The first bold move is find your spark. And your spark might be something that fulfills an everyday need, which is are you going to waste a bottle of wine, it could fill a hole in an industry. So the whole category missed out on sort of an opening of an everyday single-serve bottle of wine that people can enjoy. But whatever it is, it should align with what you are passionate about and your spark because when things get tough, that is going to light the way. The second bold move or the bold idea here is that entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, and all personalities. I’ve seen some of the most powerful, impactful entrepreneurs be the most soft-spoken, the most reserved, awkward, and also charismatic and also on that side, but it does not take a boisterous persona, to have boisterous ideas and make big change in a category. And so there is no one typical entrepreneur. And the last thing that should prevent you from pursuing what you’re passionate about is some false notion that you don’t fit a typical entrepreneur archetype. In fact, if that’s the case, more power to you, you’re probably on the right track. And the next piece, the next bold idea here is education breeds confidence. Dana spent years working in wealth management and always knew she wanted to be on the other side of the table as an entrepreneur. So she dove in. She didn’t just do book reading, she networked, she made connections. She really rounded-out her knowledge of the space both from a content perspective, but also the people and the the systems that were in place. And the last piece, the last bold move here is let the experts do your talking. So Dana was relentless and seeking pre-orders and substantiated her position not only as an expert, or not only with experts in the wine industry, but her direct audience through focus groups when building her case. So she saw, okay, here are the influencers in my market that are going to make a difference. I want to connect with them and I’m going to make the consumers experts in what they need as well. And she tapped into that. Consumers can’t always articulate what they need, but having that sensibility and mindset of listening to them regardless is a wonderful thing. So, a lot to learn from Dana about the type of entrepreneur that you are, and embracing it, as well as how to enter the market well-equipped.

Published

September 02, 2020

A Special Thanks To

Dana Spaulding