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The LadyGang On Fostering A Ferocious Female Community Through Real-Talk

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It would be rude to talk about nipple hairs in the company of a lady right? Wrong. For any podcast lovers and girl-gang fanatics, nipple hairs are but one of the many incredulous and hilarious topics covered by the LadyGang. Launched in 2015, the podcast has seen its fair share of female faux pas and triumphs. Viewed through the lens of its three hosts, Entertainment Tonight's Keltie Knight, former Glee star Becca Tobin and fashion designer Jac Vanek, you get honest and hilarious views on the daily life of women.


The program, which has amassed a whopping 25M downloads, fuses self-deprecating stories from the trio themselves, and allows lots of audience interaction, whether that's in the form of questions or conversation prompts. And while that number seems massive, the ladies were quick to point out that the devoted listeners don't necessarily, and interestingly, translate to social media followers. “If all the millions of people that listen to our podcast would follow me on insta I would be so happy," noted Knight laughingly. “I had a girl come up to me this week and said, 'I am the biggest LadyGang fan, I listen every week,' she was an actress, [I said] 'Oh I'll follow you on Instagram, what's your Instagram?' and she was like 'I don't think I even follow you.' I'm like 'how do you listen to the podcast every week and don't follow me on Instagram, what the hell?'"

SWAAY chatted with two of the three ladies, Vanek and Knight about the podcast's trajectory and some inspirational collaborations in their near future.

On LadyGang origins

The three ladies, all in entertainment and fashion, knew each other through friends of friends, with Vanek and Knight ironically united by a mutual ex-boyfriend. And while they may come together twice weekly to record the show, it's certainly not something that gets in the way of three very hectic schedules. "That's the really cool thing about the three of us together," says Knight. "We're certainly friends and have certainly become closer through LadyGang, but we all have our own lives, we all have our own careers, and we sort of come together, very different women, every week, to make the show."

Originally intended to be a celebrity-focused show, data then found their listeners were equally devoted to the shows with just the three of them on the mic, than with some A-Lister (the self-deprecating and overly humble trio refer to themselves as D-listers, but not so say their legion of cult fans). “As we kind of went along over the past couple of years, all of our listeners and our fans became really invested in our own lives and our own personal anecdotes and stories that that has been kind of the driving force through the podcast," says Vanek. “We'll get just as many downloads of a show that's just the three of us versus if we have some A-list celebrity."

“I think what makes the show cool is our motivation to always make all of our women feel less alone and feel more normal by opening up and telling our stories." Keltie Knight

On giving back to the LadyGang community

We've encountered a lot of phoney "women's empowerment" in the last few months who've rode on the coattails of #metoo and #timesup, and have come to recognize that many are in fact doing lip service to further women's societal position. These three are doing the opposite.

"I think what makes the show cool is our motivation to always make all of our women feel less alone and feel more normal by opening up and telling our stories."

-Keltie Knight

Recently they partnered with Claremont Lincoln University to give out $100k in student scholarships to women. The non-profit, which reached out to the ladies via Vanek, will benefit the women who haven't the time or money to commit to an onsite University degree. "We have so many questions coming from girls that want to go back to school, that are working full time jobs, are stay at home moms, or don't have the funds to actually pay for a master's degrees," says Vanek. "So this was a way for us to make that happen for women who wouldn't get the chance otherwise."

The competition is an easy application and only requires the submission of a one-minute video, through which you might end up with a master's degree. "It's not some bullshit degree that won't be able to help you," advises Vanek. "These women are able to take power and become as confident as they can in whatever jobs that they're in."

On LadyGang TV

In May of this year it was announced that the LadyGang will no longer be beholden to a single microphone in a recording studio, they're about to hit the small screen. And not only will they be featured in their new show, but they'll be producing, because who knows how to put on a good show better than these three?

“Wait, if you think Kim Kardashian is crazy, you wait till you see Becca Tobin."

- Keltie Knight

"The E! Network was always our top choice, it just felt like our realm really fit so well with what they were doing and so we pitched to them," notes Knight, who's no stranger to television herself. The show, which will launch in the fall is sure to ensue in hilarity, and the real talk that really come to connote the LagyGang brand. What you see is really what you get with these three, and we're sure that's what has landed them this major career move.

Gang's all here! (L-R) Becca Tobin, Keltie Knight, Jac Vanek

And what's more, they promise that even with the advent of their TV adventure, the podcast will never go away. Vanek was adamant about this, commenting, "we would never get rid of the podcast. The podcast is everything and it's so great for us to be a part of." So there you have it ladies, come fall, you will get your fill of this trio three times a week. Is that even enough? We're entirely unsure.

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Business

Kegs, Cans And Sustainability: How These Women Are Making Billions In The Wine Industry

Universally loved, and, (especially at this time of year) drunk merrily and in excess, wine is the answer to much if not all our prayers, on a regular basis.


The wine industry also happens to be home to some major female leaders, and it's become apparent, that the barriers to entry women face in almost every other industry don't apply here, as long as you've the work ethic and brains behind your operation.

"This is a people's business," says Delia Vader, CEO of Viader Wines, who's vehement about the gender neutrality of the wine industry, and hopeful for it's future, (even with the hefty factors of global warming, and recent wildfires, contending with the grape-producing vines).

Naturally, we were all too excited to sit down with five leaders in the industry working throughout the globe, that are innovating and shaping the future vintages from California to Italy and beyond. Below are five such women, ranging from vineyard to store owners, and one woman who's completely shifting the way we think about wine consumption.

Francesca Planeta

Francesca Planeta, Wine Director, Planeta Wines

Francesca Planeta has been a rising star on the Sicilian wine scene for the last few years. Planeta is devoted not only to promoting her own vineyard, but promoting all the wines of Italy's largest island, which is most famous for the wonderful, Nero D'Avola.

Sicily's wine scene veritably boomed around Planeta as she was growing up. So when she finally began working on the Planeta Wines vineyard in her early twenties, she quickly learned the nuances of the land and the grapes she would ultimately come to produce. “I had begun to help out at the winery, using a graphics studio to create the logo and the first labels, and then I returned to Sicily, during the time of that first harvest. (This) was the moment when I decided that I would take on the challenge of working with the business that bore our family name."

Given that the business was family owned, Planeta did not encounter any barriers to entry because of her gender, but instead made sure that women are integral to the process on the vineyard. “Women have a fundamental role in our business," says the winemaker. “They are entrusted with many responsible positions; from wine making to directing exports and from the hotels to the entire marketing and communications office."

A worrying factor for both Planeta and the women at the vineyard however is global warming, something which has plagued wineries across the globe in recent years. Given that the taste and production of wine depends heavily on its “terroir" (or, surroundings), changes in environment are immediately a factor for anyone in the industry to consider when its coming to harvest season. “It generally seems to us that global warming presents not only a problem of warming in itself," she comments. “But in extremes of weather phenomena, with heavier rainfall – when it occurs, and rather longer periods of drought. (However), living and working in the centre of the Mediterranean gives us better conditions and the last twenty years have shown greater climatic stability."

Selling upwards of 2.3M bottles of wine a year, her chief markets (apart from Italy), are the United States, Germany, England, and Russia, followed by Canada, Switzerland and Japan. And she recommends that for the chillier months, if you're drinking a Sicilian wine, to go for Merlot, Syrah, or Burdese.

Delia Viader, CEO, Viader Wines

Argentinian-born Delia Viader was in the midst of an M.I.T degree, with three children at home, when an opportunity arose to purchase a vineyard in Napa Valley. “The timing was perfect for relocating my very young family," she says, who quickly got to grips with their new surroundings as their mother began constructing a powerhouse wine team to launch Viader Wines.

It hasn't always been easy for Viader and her team however. Before the financial crash of 2008, Viader was sold in every state throughout the U.S, and exported to 24 countries abroad. Since the crash, and an arsonist fire at a warehouse of theirs containing the entire 2003 vintage, they've changed their business model drastically. Now, they sell 90 percent of their collections direct-to-consumer, with the remaining 10 percent sent abroad or to the bigger markets of New York, California and Texas.

She has also become naturally concerned by the Californian wildfires of late, and their threat to both the vines, and the warehouses where the barrels are kept. “The biggest impact on our vineyard has been the change of weather pattern we have been experiencing for the past 35 years that we can speak of," says the CEO. “We are learning a lot about how resilient affected vines can be, and how wine made from those grapes needs to be processed to perhaps reshape stylistic performance of the resulting wine. The winegrowers as an industry will be learning a lot from this."

Delia Viader

Learning and innovating are at the core of Viader's vineyards, where her son, Alan is championing new ways to irrigate their 92-acres of land, and fine tuning an understanding of “the exact optimal time to harvest at each vines' peak ripeness." And while she may be the CEO, she heavily depends on him for his expertise and blending capabilities. “I am the owner and CEO but I call myself the wine mother because I am the mother of the vines (I had them planted myself, my way); the mother of the wine (I 'created' our Cabernet-based wine to be highly influenced by the terroir with a high dose of Cab franc and remain, highly influential at the final assemblage-blend); and I am the mother of the winemaker, my son Alan Viader."

What is Viader most likely to be drinking at this moment? “I am very susceptible to a vibrant Pinot Noir from Burgundy most times," she says. “But my choice really depends on two variables: the food I am going to have and the company, the people I am going to share that bottle of wine with. I love harmony in the wine, the food pairing and the conviviality that springs from sharing a great wine."

Julia Jackson

Julia Jackson, Propietor, Jackson Family Wines

As one of the largest family-run wine groups in the U.S, The Jackson Family has garnered quite a name for itself. Leading the way within the group is Julia Jackson, daughter of mother Barbara Banke and Jess Jackson who built the group up from the ground, which is now worth an estimated $2.3 billion.

Today, their portfolio boasts wines from 52 wineries throughout the world, and integral to that is building relationships from within and amalgamating abroad. For Jackson, that means working in almost every facet of the business in order to cover all the projects she wishes to pursue. “I wear a few hats in my family business," she comments. “I'm spearheading my first acquisition project in another country, (and) I work with our international sales team to be one of the faces for Jackson Family Wines." On top of this, she's also involved with the group's environmental and philanthropic efforts, which, given the wildfire situation in California, will be work much needed in the years to come. “All my philanthropic efforts are focused around our environment and I created a charitable program that gives grants to women within the eco-space through our Santa Maria based winery Cambria."

Jackson's favorite wine at this time of the year? Gran Moraine from Willamette Valley Oregon.

Hortense Bernard, General Manager, Millesima Wines

Hortense Bernard was working with global industry leaders Moet Hennessy Diageo in Paris as a brand manager before she made her big move to the U.S. Now, she stands as one of the youngest female General Managers in the world of a large international firm, atop the Millesima USA group.

Millesima, a leading retailer in Europe, who branched into he U.S in 2006, owns upwards of 2.5M bottles of fine wine that are housed in the company's cellars in Bordeaux, France, (which is also the largest AOC vineyard in the country).

Bernard, who had her first glass of wine at eight years old, works primarily with direct-to-consumer retail and educating the U.S market about Bordeaux wines from their shop on the Upper East Side here in New York. "My goal is to educate as much as I can," she says. "In store, we speak about Bordeaux, and try to explain (because Bordeaux wine can be really complex), the wine."

"When I arrived here, I didn't know anything about American consumption," she laughs. "So it took me quite a bit to learn about it and understand how Americans see wines, and what they mean when the ask for a Chardonnay."

On top of chatting with customers, Bernard plays host to a lot of cultural events throughout the city, accompanying her wines whenever there might be a chance to express the history and significance of the wine for both France, and the industry at large.

So naturally, when asked what she'll be drinking on the celebratory occasions of December, it will be a big full-bodied Bordeaux " because that always takes me back (home)."

Hortense Bernard

Marian Leitner, Founder, Archer Roose

Once it dawned on Marian Leitner that Millennials were drinking more wine than beer, she saw an opportunity to modernise the way we purchase, consume and enjoy wine.

"In the U.S, you actually pay more for the shipping and the packaging than you do for the wine itself," says Leitner. "So I started to ask why and learn more about the alternative packaging market."

Branching away from bottles, Leitner looked to packaging wine in every way beer is packaged - from cans and kegs, and then also, in boxes.

"You have to separate consumers into two buckets - the super high-end collectors, who make up less than 1 percent of the population, and then you have people who are drinking, "value" wines. And then the rest of America are basically beer drinkers."

Upon the realization that Millennial wine drinkers are more than beer drinkers, she also came to understand that they're also very brand-loyal. Brands that represent qualities and values they share, are the ones they're consuming the most. "So we decided to leverage the alternative packaging movement (which is keg, can and box), to cut through all the noise of the bottles in the wine store, and really connect with consumers." In doing so, she launched the company, Archer Roose Wines.

This move means, that apart from the ultra-hip way the wine is presented, you're also economizing. One box of Archer Roose wine contains the equivalent of 4 regular bottles. And inevitably, the kegs contain a huge volume.

Wine kegger, anyone?