Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Terra Jane Albee, Founder of Ownroot Collective, located in Napa, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Ownroot Collective is a community that introduces wine drinkers to the best side project wines in the country. At every winery, you know and love, there is a winemaker who has a side hustle producing a micro brand that is driven by passion and exploration. Ownroot Collective members are people looking for wines that over-deliver for the price point, are well made and refreshing, are sourced from ethically farmed sustainable vineyards, and support the dreams of the person who made them.

Tell us about yourself

I have worked in the wine industry since 2010. Because of archaic three-tier regulations and complicated shipping restrictions, the business of selling wine is not a level playing field. It is increasingly hard for small brands to get attention from distributors or find connections with new consumers across the country. I started Ownroot Collective in 2020 after watching several winemaker friends start their own small brands, produce incredible wines, and then struggle to sell them. I kept wishing there was a way for consumers to find out about these wines, and since they didn't exist, I became obsessed with creating that space.

I have always had a deep and innate desire to help the little guy, maybe to a fault. I feel driven to advocate for people who are putting themselves on the line to create something of beauty. I love entrepreneurship, I love small businesses; I love helping people support their passions. What motivates me is seeing how much both the winemakers we work with and our members appreciate and benefit from the access that Ownroot provides them.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Tackling all the regulation and minutia that comes with starting a wine business. In the summer of 2020, I hatched the idea of Ownroot. Seeing it come to fruition by November 2020- having to create a business plan, register the name, get a liquor license, apply for a business license and set up new accounts, design the website, test software, sort out inventory, shipping, SOPS - all of the details of getting a business off the ground and running. It was so much effort and energy just to get set up. That first sale was like, Oh my gosh, someone just gave me money! It might work!

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The two things I still struggle with are sleepless nights and imposter syndrome. Success is a moving target, and some days I feel like it is all working, and I am so proud of myself and the community I get to be a part of shaping. But some days, my eyes are like slits because I have been up all night thinking about how this can never work and I am a failure, and it's all going to come crashing down.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Persistence. If you are going to do this, you have to be kind of a crazy person and put your entire self into it. There is no easy road to building a business; every day is a hustle, and no matter how healthy your business seems, you have to keep grinding.
  2. Ask for help. No one person can do every single thing while growing a business. Whether it is bookkeeping, fulfillment, or social media, find the resources to outsource your weaknesses. It will help you stay focused and motivated in the long run.
  3. Don't get so busy working in the business that you neglect working on the business. This is a common and fatal small business owner mistake. When you are bogged down just making the business run, you don't have time to work on the strategies that will help grow and scale your business. Make the time to step back and think about ways to keep the business healthy, productive, and innovative.
  4. Pay your bills on time. (I know it says three, but this one is also critical.)

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.

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