How does a person spend 13 years climbing the corporate ladder only to leave it all behind to open a wine bar in North Carolina? The answer is easy. She followed her passion. Meet Lindsey Williams; a corporate attorney turned urban wine bar owner. There are many people in the corporate world who long to be their own boss, but Williams acted on her entrepreneurial interest and made a conscious decision to venture out and discover the possibilities.
“It all started years ago with a friends’ trip to Italy,” says Williams an Ohio native. “One of our excursions was to a local winery.” She says they walked the land, tasted the wine and snacked on charcuterie. It was this event that sparked the idea in Williams. As she continued to travel and visit numerous wineries around the world, her passion for fermented grape juice grew stronger. Then came the life-changing question, “How do I turn my passion into a full-time job?” This led to Williams’ year-long transformation from attorney to entrepreneur. “I worked with an affiliate partner in California to get up to speed in the wine industry,” Williams admits. After the year of training and a test, she was ready to take the next step. Davidson Wine Co., an urban wine bar in Davidson, North Carolina was born.
Building a Diverse Community
There’s a lot that goes into opening your own business. You have to figure out everything from location to staff to branding and so much more. These days, social media is the vehicle that drives marketing. And learning how to manage your SEO is a challenge within itself. Needless to say, none of this slowed down or stopped Williams from seizing her chance to diversify. “I utilized my skills as an attorney to negotiate and secure business contracts,” Williams proudly shares. With this and several other skills at hand, she continued to push forward until her dream came to fruition.
Another obstacle to overcome was the lack of diversity in the wine industry. Williams realized this as her opening date drew near. “Believe it or not, I didn’t notice the lack of diversity until we got close to opening,” Williams says. Fortunately, she has found a social group known as Black Girls Wine started by Shayla Varnado to connect with. It’s where luxury meets sisterhood in curated wine experiences designed with the Black woman in mind. As an active member, Williams offers private gatherings for the group at her wine bar.
In a few short months, Williams has also become a part of a tight-knit community within the industry. She’s received an outpouring of support from the few Black wholesalers, distributors, and executives that exist. Disturbed by the lack of Black representation, Williams decided to change this imbalance by making a conscious decision to hire people of color. Bringing other Blacks on board is an immediate action that results in a noticeable change.
The courage it took to leave a high-powered corporate position, to endure industry training for a full year, and to secure and build out commercial real estate is nothing short of exceptional; especially since this is the first wine bar in the town located about 19 miles from Charlotte. I asked Williams if it was worth it. Her response, “Definitely!” This certainty was apparent at the grand opening this past August. The line to experience the manifestation of her dedication and hard work wrapped around the block. “People came from as far away as Georgia,” says Williams. This moment that made everything worthwhile.
It’s been three months now since the Davidson Wine Co. opened its doors and they have received an abundance of support from the local community. Williams has gotten to know her customers and their preferences. “We offer seasonal food and wine, take custom orders and have live music twice a month.” She also knows a majority of her customers prefer sweeter wines as well as chardonnays, pinot grigios and red blends. Williams and her team are also currently importing grapes to her production facility located just three miles from the wine bar that will produce the company’s very own wines in the future.
It’s been said most people don’t like change, but isn’t change one of the things that makes us stronger? Williams embraced change by throwing caution to the wind to become a successful entrepreneur. It took her less than two years to get to where she is now, walking in her purpose with a smile on her face and a glass of wine in her hand.