In 2019, Krishon Lampley was standing in the middle of New York's Times Square and looked up to see her wine brand, Love Corkscrew, on a billboard.
“That was one of the best days of my life,” said the wine negotiator and Polsky Small Business Growth Program graduate. “It was one of those things where you look up and everyone else starts looking up too. And I was looking straight at a sign that said 'We Go High,' which was my rosé.” It was incredible. ”
The billboard was one of two Lampley received as part of a sponsorship he earned through his strong social media presence. She runs Instagram, Facebook, TikTok accounts, a blog, her one-off radio show related to the Love Cork Screw brand, and runs content focused on wine, entrepreneurship, and pop culture. , has been successful. Through this existence, Lampley became affectionately known to her followers as “The Wine Lady.”
“I think my social media resonates because I've always been a very transparent person,” Lampley said. “I talk about the good and the bad and let people see the real me. That honesty speaks to people.”
Lampley launched Love Corkscrew in 2013. The company currently sells seven of his wines, which feature quirky labels, including “Be the Light” Sauvignon Blanc and “Good Times, Good Friends” Pinot Grigio, which appeal to the brand's target audience of 25 to his 44-year-olds. We are producing. -age.
“I wanted my brand to have a welcoming, non-intimidating feel and appeal to wine novices and wine lovers alike,” Lampley said.
The company sells its bottles in 18 states and ships to 40 states. Consumers can purchase the wines on the company's website or find them at local and national retailers such as Target, Whole Foods, Meijer, Mariano's and Jewel-OSCO.
The idea for the wine brand came after a flood destroyed the art gallery and bar Lampley ran in Chicago's South Loop. Lampley oversaw the venue's wine list and worked on the sales and distribution side.
“Losing the business was devastating. I depressed myself for a little bit, but then I asked myself, 'What's going to happen now?'” she said. “I've always been drawn to wine and enjoy how it brings people together. From business deals to family gatherings, the best things happen over a glass of wine. I wanted to be a part of that too. It is.”
desire to succeed
Breaking into the wine industry required drive and determination. First, Lampley studied to become a négociant, or wine merchant, one of less than 1 percent of black women with that qualification. This helped Lampley identify small regional vineyards to partner with to develop her custom Crush Her blends.
She then had to comply with all laws related to bottling and selling wine. “She is one in a strange industry where no one has all the answers and she doesn't have one answer to everything,” Lampley said. . After that, she found a distributor to put her products on her shelves and did some marketing to get her wines off the shelves.
“There's this idea that the wine industry is all about drinking wine and going to wine tastings every day, but we need to get the sexy part out of our minds,” Lampley says. “Ninety percent of business is negotiation. You have to love pitching, love the numbers. You don't have to have an ego. You can roll up your sleeves and get dirty. I still carry a box with me. ”
Ten years later, all of Lampley's hard work has paid off. To date, Love Corkscrew has sold over 1 million bottles of wine nationwide. The “Be the Light” Sauvignon Blanc is wine lovers “Best Buy” rating is 89/100. It has also been featured in magazines such as ebony, peopleand forbes.
“It's been an incredible journey,” Lampley said.
Plans for growth
Lampley participated in two Polsky Small Business Growth Programs while building his business. One worked with a student to revamp her website for the company, and the other she developed a business and marketing plan.
“Working with Polsky was a great experience,” said the entrepreneur. “They opened my eyes to a lot of things and introduced me to a great webmaster that I still use today.”
In 2020, Lampley launched a business called The Lampley, which complements her work at Love Corkscrew. This online retail platform sells handcrafted homewares made by underrepresented artisans.
“When I entertain, I want all five senses to be felt,” said the multi-business owner. “In addition to wine, you also need the perfect place setting and candles. You want natural products for your body care. The Lamprey can showcase these kinds of items designed by women and BIPOC creators and suppliers.” It’s a place.”
Two years ago, Lampley and business partner Joyce Dawkins launched Clink Festival in Chicago. The Wine and Spirits Festival in September will highlight women and their BIPOC counterparts in the industry.
“Festivals are very expensive for vendors, but they're also very important for brand awareness,” Lampley said. “Clink Festival is my way of giving back to the community by eliminating vendor fees and allowing more individuals to participate.”
With Love Cork Screw, Lamprey now plans to focus on increasing brand awareness by increasing tastings in stores nationwide and increasing its presence on menus at restaurants and golf courses across the country. He also wants to increase his current staff from his two full-time employees and his six contractors so he can focus more on marketing and sales.
“I'm really proud of what I was able to accomplish and show people that it's possible,” Lampley said. “It was very difficult at first because I felt like I needed a superpower, but I just kept pushing forward. I look forward to continuing to grow Love Corkscrew. It was tough, but if I had to, I would do it again. I would do it again.”
Follow Love Cork Screw (@lovecorkscrew) on Instagram, TikTok (@lovecorkscrew) and @LCSMusings on Facebook.