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Wine not? From Hamptons Flower Child to Startup Founder

People

New York native, global trendsetter, and co-owner of Wölffer Estate Vineyard-Joey Wölffer - is a well-known name among the Hamptons locals. Her family owned winery, called The Wölffer Estate Vineyard, is the summer hot spot for delicious rosé and amazing views.


But, now Wölffer is making her own business with the Styleliner. The Styleliner, which was launched in June of 2010, is the first-ever mobile luxury store on wheels. You can find a collection of Italian leather handbags and unique accessories on this mobile boutique. Last year, she debuted her eponymous collection of handbags, which combines hand-woven leather straps and rare embellishments from around the world. Along with the fashion truck, Wölffer has opened up the first ever brick and mortar store in Sag Harbor, NY.

Following in the footsteps of her great-great grandfather who established one of the leading retailers in the UK, Marks and Spencer, fashion is clearly in her blood. As soon as Wölffer finished college, she jetted to London to start a career in fashion and landed an internship with a well-known jewelry designer.

"While I was an assistant in London, the owner of the company fired her main designer and hired me right off the bat," says Wölffer, “I had no experience, but it was the biggest test and also the most exciting time of my life."

After London, Wölffer headed to New York City to continue her career in fashion. “Having had a fashion career in London made me extremely hirable in New York," says Wölffer. In New York, she joined the Johns group, and worked alongside the trend director, head designers, and the sales department. While working there, she also did a lot of traveling, which is what sparked her idea for Styleliner.

“When I was 26, my dad passed away. That was when I knew that I could not just work in the corporate world forever, so I decided that it was time to start my own business," stated Wölffer. From her background in jewelry to her roots in the Hamptons, all of her unique aspects are incorporated into the brand. “The Hamptons style is pretty relaxed, but people always dress up when they are laying back." said Wölffer. She also incorporates her childhood memories of growing up on a farm into her brand as well. “My brand is free spirited and definitely more bohemian, but also it has its individual style- you are not going to see someone else walking down the street with a similar bag or accessory." Wölffer said.

The first products that she debuted were the handbags. “I love accessories, and I felt that at the time I started, jewelry was over saturated. So, I went with bags, and I knew that the sable bags were going to be a special piece." Wölffer said. Starting with the saddlebag, her brand has also branched out into different categories like jewelry and clothing. As of now, Wölffer has pop up shops throughout the US. “We are opening a new pop up shop in LA in March that I am really looking forward too," said Wölffer. In the near future, Wölffer aspires to have a shop within a shop in big stores like Nordstrom's or Bloomingdales.

Culture

Why Whiskey Should No Longer Be Categorized As “A Man’s Drink”

I walk into a room full of men and I know exactly what they're thinking: "What does she know about whisky?"


I know this because many men have asked me that same question from the moment I started my career in spirits a decade ago.

In a male-dominated industry, I realized early on that I would always have to work harder than my male counterparts to prove my credibility, ability and knowledge in order to earn the trust of leadership stakeholders, coworkers, vendors and even consumers of our products. I am no stranger to hard work and appreciate that everyone needs to prove their worth when starting any career or role. What struck me however, was how the recognition and opportunities seemed to differ between genders. Women usually had to prove themselves before they were accepted and promoted ("do the work first and earn it"), whereas men often were more easily accepted and promoted on future potential. It seemed like their credibility was automatically and immediately assumed. Regardless of the challenges and adversity I faced, my focus was on proving my worth within the industry, and I know many other women were doing the same.

Thankfully, the industry has advanced in the last few years since those first uncomfortable meetings. The rooms I walk into are no longer filled with just men, and perceptions are starting to change significantly. There are more women than ever before making, educating, selling, marketing and conceptualizing whiskies and spirits of all kinds. Times are changing for the better and it's benefitting the industry overall, which is exciting to see.

For me, starting a career in the spirits business was a happy accident. Before spirits, I had worked in the hospitality industry and on the creative agency side. That background just happened to be what a spirits company was looking for at the time and thus began my journey in the industry. I was lucky that my gender did not play a deciding role in the hiring process, as I know that might not have been the case for everyone at that time.

Now, ten plus years later, I am fortunate to work for and lead one of the most renowned and prestigious Whisky brands in the world.. What was once an accident now feels like my destiny. The talent and skill that goes into the whisky-making process is what inspired me to come back and live and breathe those brands as if they were my own. It gave me a deep understanding and appreciation of an industry that although quite large, still has an incredible amount of handmade qualities and a specific and meticulous craft I have not seen in any other industry before. Of course, my journey has not been without challenges, but those obstacles have only continued to light my passion for the industry.

The good news is, we're on the right track. When you look at how many females hold roles in the spirits industry today compared to what it looked like 15 years ago, there has been a significant increase in both the number of women working and the types of roles women are hired for. From whisky makers and distillers to brand ambassadors and brand marketers, we're seeing more women in positions of influence and more spirits companies willing to stand up and provide a platform for women to make an impact. Many would likely be surprised to learn that one of our team's Whisky Makers is a woman. They might even be more surprised to learn that women, with a heightened sense of smell compared to our male counterparts, might actually be a better fit for the role! We're nowhere near equality, but the numbers are certainly improving.

It was recently reported by the Distilled Spirits Council that women today represent a large percentage of whisky drinkers and that has helped drive U.S. sales of distilled spirits to a record high in 2017. Today, women represent about 37% of the whisky drinkers in the United States, which is a large increase compared to the 1990s when a mere 15% of whisky drinkers were women. As for what's causing this change? I believe it's a mix of the acceptance of women to hold roles within the spirits industry partnered with thoughtful programs and initiatives to engage with female consumers.

While whisky was previously known for being a man's drink, reserved for after-dinner cigars behind closed doors, it is now out in the open and accessible for women to learn about and enjoy too.

What was once subculture is now becoming the norm and women are really breaking through and grabbing coveted roles in the spirits business. That said, it's up to the industry as a whole to continue to push it forward. When you work for a company that values diversity, you're afforded the opportunity to be who you are and let that benefit your business. Working under the model that the best brand initiatives come from passionate groups of people with diverse backgrounds, we are able to offer different points of view and challenge our full team to bring their best work forward, which in turn creates better experiences for our audience. We must continue to diversify the industry and break against the status quo if we really want to continue evolving.

While we've made great strides as an industry, there is still a lot of work to be done. To make a change and finally achieve gender equality in the workplace, both men and women need to stand behind the cause as we are better collectively as a balanced industry. We have proved that we have the ability to not only meet the bar, but to also raise it - now we just need everyone else to catch up.