What does a négociant negotiate?

Vin De Syrah.

Huh? Have you ever heard of it?

It’s in the Gaslamp district of San Diego. It was where I spent a bunch of money on my 25th birthday. I was all bout bringing in my golden year living my best life. But here’s the deal. A wine tasting party for your 25th birthday in the company of a few basic bitches is not only comical in hindsight, but it’s also eye-opening. Syrah has a series of unique food pairings I knew nothing about until I decided to buy into the culture of wine tasting. I’ve recently learned there’s a whole other side to the art of wining and dining.

That art is well known by the négociant.

What’s a négociant, exactly?

A négociant is the French term for a wine merchant who assembles the produce of smaller growers and winemakers and sells the result under its own name. Négociants buy everything from grapes to grape must to wines in various states of completion aka winemaker.

Before you start to pull your upper left top lift towards your ear and squinting your eye trying to get to the end before I finish my build-up, ask yourself this, “when I drink wine, do I drink black-owned wine? Have I tried Love Cork Screw wine?”

If you have, I’m not talking to you. But if you’re still curious, let me tell you about the Chrishon Lampley, the founder of Love Cork Screw; a wine and lifestyle brand dedicated to offer consumers wine, entertainment, and other products and services. The Love Cork Screw line features five wines with bright, modern packaging and memorable names like “We’re Movin’ On Up” (Cabernet Sauvignon) and “Head Over Heels” (Riesling).

What’s the story behind Love Cork Screw?

Oh, there are so many reasons but mostly because it was time to make money for myself. I had worked in the industry for over 16 years. I knew something was missing. I worked in the sales and distribution side as well as having my own bar. I knew that what we didn’t have was a wine that satisfied a very novice wine palette. I wanted to get into the industry that didn’t look like me. I knew the industry very well. I said, “You know what let me go for it. Let me make money for myself.” I wanted to hit that 25-44 age group who didn’t know much about wine. They are honestly intimidated, but they are ready to try something different and new.

What was it like to go from idea to invoice?

It’s still a work in progress. It never stops. It’s nonstop with the shelf space. You can get kicked off the shelf at any time. That’s just the beast of the industry. I was very lucky to have a great concept. Just the name, “Love Cork Screw,” itself has gained my attention and that’s what piqued the interest of Mariano’s. They were the first to pick me up. From there it was Whole Foods, Target, Binny’s there are so many locations now. My labels just stick out like no other on the shelf, the concept, the beauty of it all, it’s just hard work.

How have you mastered your business and financial model?

I always say whatever the books, whatever the so-called experts, whatever it is – tells you times that by three. (X BY THREE) that is my easy simple rule. You have to have a reserve for contingency. Something will always go wrong, I promise. I’m sorry, it just will. Whether it be spending too much money on certain things you may contract. Whether it’s a just a dumb mistake – which we all make. There will be more money spent than you think. So always have a reserve for contingencies because you will run out of money very quickly. At the same time, you have to go for it. Otherwise, you’ll be writing business plans forever.

When did you know you had a hot product? What did you learn about your revenues between then and now?

There’s definitely a big, big, big change because you’re making up for all the money you spent in the beginning. Looking back now, I would have spent less on website development. I would have given away less product. When you have a product, be careful who you give free product to. I look back and think, “Oh my God. I gave away that much?!” I pay attention to where I spend my money in the business now as I continue to grow the business.

How did you develop your team?

It grew as the brand grew. My team formation took time. People would approach me and say they wanted to be a part of it. I’d ask, “Are you sure? I’m just starting out. I don’t have the money yet.”

In building the team, I really donned my CEO hat. I was able to push my story out there and leaned into being vulnerable. I quickly learned I operate better as the CEO with a team of experts than partners. I have some strong opinions about partnerships. But this is my baby. I don’t believe anybody can love your baby more than you do.


You can learn more about Chrishon and her team @lovecorkscrew

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Written by Arie Nicole

Owner of Tactful Disruption, LLC. A mental health coach and advocate for military, millennials, and minorities seeking to elevate their distinctiveness and belonging in the workplace.

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