Monday, December 31, 2018

The 2018 Update

posted by Beck

When we last left our intrepid entrepreneurs...

I came on to do a little recap of the year and realized we left things majorly hanging when we last posted in May of 2017! I also found a finished post from last New Year's Eve that I never published. That post cleared up some of those items we last discussed. I just hit "publish" on the 2017 recap...a year later... so go read that one and you'll be caught up to this point.


Are you all caught up?

Here's a picture of the goat while you wait:

In case you didn't feel like more reading, the gist of the back half of 2017 was that Justin went back to work full time in order to allow Fete the opportunity to support itself (not our family). This ended up being fortuitous because Amazon stopped selling all wine (not just Fete) at the end of December 2017 due to some old prohibition laws that were violated when they purchased Whole Foods.

Which brings us to 2018...

Justin spent the first quarter of the year trying to juggle his new full-time banking job (which had very little flexibility for taking calls/appointments about Fete during the day) and finding new avenues to sell Fete outside of Amazon.

In January, he ran into a friend of a friend at Buffalo Wild Wings who mentioned that there was an opening in his office for a job that Justin had wanted for more than a decade. Justin decided to apply and spent the next couple of months testing and interviewing for the job. Once he got the job he immediately began studying for the various tests required for the position. Studying took up a good portion of our spring/summer.

Now that he's through those hurdles, he is working on building his business as a financial advisor. He LOVES his job and is very excited to work with clients, especially those making big life transitions like selling their homes. It's amazing how 15 years of varied work experiences (real estate, mortgage, banking, business development) have come together for him in this role. Even more amazing when we think about how much less prepared he would have been if he'd gotten his "dream" job a decade ago.

As for me, I continue to work 30 hours a week, which is pretty perfect since the rest of my time is spent in the car driving the kids (1st & 3rd grades) to and from their two different schools and daily swim practice. I love my job, and I am so grateful that I can be #momtaxi on most days. (Being at work would be easier though ha ha...)

Now for Fete...Fete is still there. We have inventory. We still make some sales. We have some future goals. For now though, we've been pretty content to keep it on the back burner. We've tried to trim down some of the monthly expenses that come with running a business and keep it from bleeding itself (and us) dry. We're not sad about where things are at the moment.

A couple of weeks ago I received a text from a co-worker who had seen Fete on the Instagram stories of a former classmate. The person had posted a picture of the back of the petite sirah bottle and said that it "was made for her." It made me so happy that people may still find joy in our wine and the message behind it. That's the whole point of why we did it. The fact that the brand is still achieving our mission even though we aren't actively promoting it is pretty cool.

And because this is our blog and I do what I want, I'm going to do a shameless name drop right now and mention that Zach Ertz (Philadelphia Eagles) and Richard Sherman (SF 49ers) both tried Fete this summer and really liked it. :)

Justin and his friend Matt (left) with Eagles TE Zach Ertz. #nbd

Onward to 2019! Wishing you all the best this next year!

The Miracles of 2017

There are have been so many "miracles" since we started our business. Here are a few from 2017.

#1 - The Amazon Miracle

Back in the spring we updated you on a little debacle we had with Amazon. They had reached out to us and requested several pallets of wine to sell through Amazon Prime. We were beyond excited. We sent them the product and when the day came for it to go live they told us they had made a mistake and didn't have the right permits to sell the wine. The trouble was that they had already broken up the shipment of wine and had sent it all around the country. We started getting bottles shipped back to us here and there. The returned bottles were not in the original packaging. They were broken, mildewed, unwrapped, caps dented...basically with the quality completely compromised and not re-sellable. We weren't sure what the outcome of the whole thing would be and if it would mean the end of our company.

Two months later Amazon paid us out for the wine. All of it. Every single bottle was paid for in full. And let's be honest. That was a much faster payout than if we had waited for Amazon to sell all of it. Sometimes the road of life is bumpy and marked with uncertainty, doubt and a lot of stress. It doesn't necessarily mean you're traveling on the wrong path. It just means that life is messy and uncertain. But sometimes the bumpy road gets you where you need to go faster than the safe and maintained one. Keep the faith.

#2 - The Diamond Miracle

In early June I lost the main diamond out of my wedding ring. I looked down at my hand it was just gone - one of the prongs had worn out. I had been a lot of places that morning, so I had no idea where or when it fell out. I searched the places I was able to search and then let it go. I figured that after 15 years of marriage maybe I was due for an upgrade at some point. (The diamond, not the husband.) I bought myself a bigger cubic zirconia ring for $20 on Amazon as a place holder (hello 1 carat solitaire world - now I see what the fuss is about).

Six weeks later after a trip to Donner Lake where Justin thought he found gold (that's another story) and bought a gold panning kit (the entrepreneurial spirit never rests), our 8-year-old Luke was in the kitchen looking at some of the "treasure" they had found. All of a sudden we hear, "Daddy, look I found a crystal." Justin looked at it and it was my lost diamond. He had found it the middle of the kitchen floor in a high traffic area that had been swept and vacuumed several times since the day I lost it. We have no idea how it just showed up that day. We joked that Justin's gold was all fake, but Luke found the real treasure.

#3 - The Retail Miracle

I won't go into the challenges we have faced breaking into "wine world." There are a lot of rules, a lot of barriers, a lot of palms to grease if you want things to move quickly. We don't have that kind of clout...yet. Justin worked his booty off this year to get us into the retail market. A lot of time and strategy put into building our direct-to-consumer sales. Hours and hours spent in the garage packing hundreds upon hundreds of shipments. It was a huge win for us to get picked up by Total Wine and More earlier this fall - two years after we launched our first varietal. We are currently in the California and Nevada stores and hope to continue expanding into more markets. We are also working to align with more Millennial friendly platforms like Mini Bar and Thirsty and other on-demand alcohol delivery services.

Looking to 2018...

We will have to bottle more wine at some point this year and need to save some money to make that happen.

We hope to be in more retail locations in more states. (The alcohol laws in different states make this more difficult than most people realize.)

We are both back to working full-time day jobs outside of the business. Ironically in the same industries we came out of when we left our jobs in early 2015. Sometimes life does come full circle.

Amazon will no longer be selling our wine - or any wine. Due to their purchase of Whole Foods and various alcohol sales laws, they will be ending their Amazon Wine department after the first of the year. We are all the more thankful the opportunity to sell through Total Wine and More came when it did.

We hope to focus more on the message of celebration behind our brand.

In 2018 we hope that Fete will help people "choose joy," "give joy," and "receive joy."

Thank you for going on this journey with us and for carrying us. You don't know how many times YOU were the source of our miracles.

We hope 2018 brings wonderful and good things to you and your families.

Happy New Year!

J & B