This week on my Parents in Business series I’m excited to be featuring Fiona and Katherine the co-founder of Grape and Nectar, which is right up my street. Grape and Nectar provide wine consultancies and tastings, and more recently set up their six bottle subscription service of wine to suit your palate.
Both Katherine and Fiona have a background in wine buying, and have created their business to work around their families, whilst at the same time selling quality wine that allows you to enjoy every sip, because who can handle a hangover with young children.
I would love for you to have a read of Fiona’s and Katherine’s story, here they shares the juggles and the successes of running and owning your own business, and I love how they open and honest they are in discussing managing the business with family life. Have a read.
In the meantime I’m off to check out their subscription service…
Tell me a little bit about you, your background, and your business?
We started Grape and Nectar as a side hustle when we were both working together as Wine Buyers. With over 35 years of trade experience between us we were looking for a new challenge and to help others to adopt our philosophy of drinking better, not more. We started off doing tastings, so as well as your typical corporate events, we also had a lot of fun doing mum and baby/toddler tastings where mums got to taste and learn about wine and have the opportunity to be able to chat to other mums. We always had bigger, longer term plans and later offered other services such as consultations to help advise on people’s cellars, wine racks and wine fridges, specifically tailored to individual’s budgets. Then, in October 2020 we launched our subscription service, where people receive 6 wines every month that have been selected by us and that are often new discoveries in terms of wine regions, varieties and growers and are mostly from smaller, family growers.
What motivated you to set up your own business?
We were both very aware of the fact that there is far too often a lot of mystery and almost snobbery around the world of wine, especially compared to say beer or even spirits and we wanted to try to make tasting, drinking and buying wine more accessible and less intimidating. That is why keep our offering relatively simple with a mixed, white, red or vegan case. We have always believed in drinking better, not more, but as mums, who often have to be up early in the morning, we can’t afford to have the big hangovers anymore (or as often!) and therefore we want to make every glass enjoyable. The wines we select are mostly from smaller, family run businesses and this sits well with the shop local idea of supporting smaller businesses, like ourselves. We also think that having a family is also an important factor when we sett up G&N as we wanted to have more flexibility around the hours we worked. We would often travel together across the world to wine regions together for more than two weeks at a time, and whilst thoroughly enjoyable, with young families it is not always practical.
How do you balance or juggle your business around family commitments?
The ‘juggle struggle’ is definitely real, and we would love to know if any working parent has truly managed to achieve the ideal work-life balance combination. At the moment half of G&N is currently on maternity leave (with a 5 month old), so along with living in a pandemic and not being able to rely as much on friends and the wider family, it is probably as hard and challenging as it’s going to get (we hope!) We have various nursery, school and aftercare options in place and as we are at the start of our Grape and Nectar journey, we appreciate that a lot of late nights and weekends are par for the course to create the foundations of a successful business. When you own your own business it is much more satisfying working those longer hours as you can see it making a difference, something that when working for a larger organisation you may not see as frequently.
What do you view as your biggest success since setting up your business?
As a small business you tend to celebrate even the smallest of achievements, however we feel that the first subscription cases being sent to our customers as one of our biggest successes. It is a wonderful feeling when people believe in you and your brand, they genuinely look forward to receiving their wine case every month and we enjoy the interaction we have with our customers when they are drinking the wines or the day after when they text, email or message via social media platforms of how they have enjoyed the wine with a particular food pairing that we recommended.
What are your top tips for anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business?
Get out of your comfort zone. You are probably much stronger and more determined than you realise! Once you have children you start to appreciate and realise just how much you are capable of. You are able to juggle so much with the various appointments, life admin, playdates etc in between keeping these little people alive and potentially managing your career. You may feel like you have less time as a parent, but we feel we are much more efficient with our time now we have kids.
Thank you so much Fiona and Katherine for taking part in my series, it has been wonderful to feature you, and I wish you all the best for Grape and Nectar in the future.
If you like what you’re reading and would love to be part of my Parents in Business series just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in the series: Boiler Central, Jojo Bradley Interior Design, and My Little Piccolo.