The trip to Napa and a chance to help with the grape harvest sounded like a great adventure, so Stephanie DeMasi took the plunge. What turned the 2002 trip into a business career was “realizing the need for business savvy workers (so) I cancelled the flight home and stayed.”
DeMasi began working with key people in the wine business and developing client relationships with vintners throughout Northern California.
“I founded FlyWine in 2014 to fill a hole in the wine market for high-quality, single-serving wine options as an affordable luxury for savvy drinkers,” she said. “The business is 100% self-financed and gives a portion of its sales to selected nonprofits.”
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR COMPANY
Professional background: Management consultant and vintner-entrepreneur
Education: Cornell University School of Hotel Administration
Inspired by studies through WSET, I moved to Napa in 2002 to work a harvest. Realizing the need for business savvy hard-workers I cancelled the flight home and stayed! Over the next years I worked with Cathy Corison, Mark Pope among others while “landing” at Juslyn where I am now the Managing Partner. Lot18 hired me as a curator for two years and those client relationships quickly evolved into long standing consulting contracts with vintners throughout the Northern California AVAs.
I founded FlyWine in 2014 to fill a hole in the wine market for high quality single serving wine options as an affordable luxury for savvy drinkers. I work with other vintners to create one of a kind lots for my “traveler” bottles — 100-milliliter TSA-friendly! — as well as bottle other vintners wines into the packaging for commercial use.
A large part of my work focuses on philanthropy, part of the mission statement for FlyWine is give back 10%–15% of sales are donated to selected non-profits throughout the country. FlyWine is 100% self-financed, I carry 1-3 consultants on PT basis throughout the year to help with events and social media.
MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO
This year I bought a home. With all of the eggs I have in the air, a great sense of pride comes from being able to financially support myself while maintaining my relationships in each arena.
WHAT IS THE ACHIEVEMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
Participating in Premiere Napa Valley 2015 with my first FlyWine lot within the first six months of launching. The room was on fire.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TODAY?
Asking for help, missing my loved ones who are all over the country.
WORDS THAT BEST DESCRIBE YOU
Dedicated. Loyal. Grateful. Intense. Hospitable.
AS A SUCCESSFUL FEMALE PROFESSIONAL, WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES YOU FACED AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
The overwhelming assumption is that a male is carrying me, that this was “given” and not earned. Having my work called “cute.”
Being consistent, quick witted, always following through on my word, and surrounding myself with other entrepreneurs and women professionals that were working through similar biases and presumptions in the workplace especially in outside industries.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR PROFESSION WILL CHANGE IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
My profession will continue to consolidate. I will be focused on the creative, more self branding and training young people who I can learn from.
WHO WAS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MENTOR?
When I was in high school I helped a Marybeth, a 30-something professional women, open a My Favorite Muffin and deli. She left a vice president-level position in a national retailer while going through a divorce. The Deli became everything and I became a manager quickly. I knew then I wanted to be a powerful entrepreneur that could be self reliant and literally hands on. I loved that job and it’s the reason I was accepted in the Hotel School and continued seeking out other women brave enough to make such changes.
Contrasting, I sadly had an equaling impacting experience with someone I had placed on a pedestal. She told me I’d be nothing. Now she sits across a table from me on the opposite coast as a wine professional.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG WOMAN ENTERING YOUR PROFESSION OR THE WORK WORLD TODAY?
I tell my interns now, the bad experiences can shape the good in you as much as the good ones.
Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Richard Branson
Typical day at the office: LOL! I’m up by 6 a.m., bang out email, walk the dogs and get the day together in my head. If I’m in the office, its from 10 a.m.–12 p.m. I try to hit yoga or something at noon for an hour or so. Meetings are sometime around 1:30 p.m.
Texting is my life. Sending work orders to my assistant or arranging wine drops, etc. This goes on until 5 p.m.
Then I walk the dogs again then put on the next hat whether it means meeting a VIP or arranging an itinerary tasting for a client. Emails through 10p or so, an hour of something on TV or reading. Final dog walk, rinse repeat.
The next day, I might not leave my desk for 10 hours.
Best place to work outside of your office: Anyplace I have a wireless LTE data connection is my office.
Current reading: “House of Leaves”
Most want to meet: Richard Branson, the queen of England, the owner of Red Zone and football player Jordy Nelson.