Recognized every year on March 8, International Women’s Day honors the contributions and achievements of women in our world. The 2021 theme #ChooseToChallenge, highlights the importance of challenging biases and misconceptions in the interest of creating a more inclusive and gender-equal world. A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change…
All March long, through Q&A spotlights, weekly Instagram Live tastings, and donating 10% of our online sales to Women of the Vine, join us in celebrating and acknowledging some of the incredible female winemakers, winery owners, and professionals working in the industry today.
Meet Kendra Kawala and Sarah Hoffman, Co-Founders, Maker Wine Company
Kendra and Sarah are two kindred spirits and wine lovers who met as classmates at Stanford Business School. Before Maker, Sarah led Food and Beverage marketing at Eventbrite. Her side hustles included helping start-ups with digital marketing, homebrewing, and starting an underground supper club in SF. Kendra worked as a management consultant in healthcare where she loved lifting up the little guys in a complex, regulated industry (sound familiar?). She moonlights as an amateur photographer and acrobat. Together they became obsessed with building a company that would support premium wine from independent producers — sans the snobbery. Get their full story here!
What is one piece of advice you give to women looking to make a career in wine?
Sarah: “My advice is to just take the first step! I certainly felt imposter syndrome starting a premium wine company when I had no background in the industry. We traveled around California with can prototypes with wrapping paper taped around them to show potential winemakers our concept. You don’t need a pretty, polished solution or to have everything figured out, that momentum will build if you start to take baby steps towards your goal.”
Kendra: “Lean on others. Wine is a small, welcoming community, and there is always someone willing to help, especially women supporting other women!”
What would you like to see happen to help get more women involved in the industry?
Kendra: “Wine needs more women and women in sales in particular. Good sales are all about storytelling, and women excel at creating connections and bringing stories to life. I’d like to see more women rising up the ranks in primetime sales roles, and I think we’d all be better off for it.”
Sarah: Agreed! “I would love to see female winemakers share and tell their stories more. As we increasingly move to online sales, winemakers will have to rely less on making that connection in person at the tasting room. Your digital presence provides an amazing opportunity to share your story as a female wine professional with more people and help inspire more women to enter the industry.”
As a female in the wine industry, have you dealt with gender-related challenges?
Kendra: “No doubt there is so much opportunity to make wine more fair and equitable, but I think it’s actually been a strength to be a woman in wine today. I’m grateful for the women who came before us and paved the way like Milla Handley, Julia Coney, and so many others.”
Sarah: “We are often assumed to be event reps rather than the executive staff of the company, but I agree with Kendra that seeking out other women to partner with and to work for Maker has been a huge advantage. We get to tell untold stories of underrepresented voices in the industry and leverage all the amazing talent that many in the industry have overlooked.”
Is there one woman, in the industry or outside of it, who has inspired you throughout your career?
Kendra: “Our former professor and mentor Alyssa Rapp, who initially inspired us to pursue building a company in wine. In addition to advising Maker, Alyssa always amazes me by her ability to juggle being a leader, mother, professor, advisor, friend, and life-long student of wine. Alyssa is the first to lend a hand or answer a 2 am call for help, and I’m excited to be that support for other women in wine.”
Sarah: “One of my personal mentors is Jaleh Bisharat – she is one of the most accomplished business leaders I know – she led marketing teams at Amazon, Opentable, Upwork, and Eventbrite. She’s now the founder and CEO at NakedPoppy, a fabulous clean beauty company. She entered an industry that she is passionate about and didn’t have a formal background in and showed that a fresh perspective can be a huge asset. Above all, what I’ve learned from her is that being trusting, transparent, and generous with employees is good business and that you’ll never regret doing the right thing.”
And Save The Date!
We are excited to put the much-deserved spotlight on some incredible female winemakers, winery owners, and professionals working in the industry today. Click here to meet them and learn more about their craft and the wines they produce.