Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sariya Jarasviroj Brown, Founder of Circo Vino, located in Tucson, AZ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Circo Vino is a privately owned, national, fine wine importer that operates in Tier 1 of the "three-tier" alcohol system of distribution. Our direct customers are wine distributors across the United States; thus, we work in a business-to-business (B2B) model. The alcohol industry is one of the most highly regulated industries in America, and alcohol products like wine must pass through three points of procurement. As a Tier 1 company, we are at the top of the supply chain and, therefore, have many and varying responsibilities that often reach beyond the immediate relationships with our direct customers. For example, we are responsible for maintaining and strengthening relationships with the winery partners we represent and the distributors with whom we collaborate. This comes with maintaining a strong image and pricing consistency for our brands and infusing our sales strategies with wine education while striving for supply chain excellence by delivering great customer service and dependable logistics. Our distributors rely on the strength of our brands and company identity to reach their customers, who are restaurateurs and retailers. We measure our success by how our messaging and programming reaches the end consumer, who is the last stop in the supply chain journey of our wines. Circo Vino is dedicated to seeking out wines that demonstrate a sense of place and a singularity of style. Our goals include working with respect for tradition alongside a vision of a sustainable future for wine growing. We love working with people and partners who infuse humor and creativity into our work. We strive to have our mission and spirit reach the dinner tables of wine drinkers in America through by our best behind the scenes.
Tell us about yourself
My journey in the import wine business started similarly to many other people I know. I had a part-time job in a wine shop during graduate school that led me to work with a wine broker and eventually to work with a wine distributor. During my time as a portfolio curator and manager within the distribution realm, I had the opportunity to taste and evaluate wines from over a dozen countries, manage a book of hundreds of wines, and really hone my business skills and wine-tasting palate. It was during this time that I began to dream about what it might be like to start my own company one day. With this dream in the back of my mind, I left wine distribution to work for a national wine importer to learn about national sales work and experience more of the national and international wine business. In 2008, I had an opportunity that allowed me to create Circo Vino, and I am proud to be here thirteen years later. I believe that all business owners experience some days as a "grind." This is normal. What keeps me going is that I am an inherently curious person, and the world of wine offers so much to explore that, if you want it to be, every day can be a new adventure.
I look forward to "a-ha" moments in my daily work of becoming a better wine expert and business person. I also love the positive energy of working with industry colleagues who are passionate about and excited by wine, food, and supply chain logistics.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest business owner accomplishment is keeping my eye on a healthy work-life balance. I am really proud of being a sole proprietor of an international business and also a mother to three children, a life partner, and someone who still takes the time for community building in my local community. My brother works with me as our Vice President of Operations and Logistics. The seed funding for Circo Vino came from my family. Being a family-led company is the best feeling. Life is never perfect, and it is very easy to become overwhelmed, but in my experience, having integrated my family into my work dreams and goals has helped all of us to see that you do not have to sacrifice personal nourishment for high-level work goals.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The single most difficult thing for me as a business owner has been combating bias within the wine industry. I am a naturalized citizen of the United States, a woman, and I work from what is considered in my industry as a small town. In a business landscape with very few women of color in ownership positions, it has been challenging to be seen and heard in all realms, especially in the funding and financial realms.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Believe in yourself.
- Take time to understand your legal, financial, and fiduciary needs and responsibilities.
- Work on your listening skills.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Thank you for this opportunity and persistence in reaching out. It feels a little scary to share so publically about my business journey, and I am ultimately very flattered by the interest.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.