Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jamie Cegelski-Gaebe, Founder of Priority Experiences, located in Napa, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Priority Wine Pass - We offer a tasting card that helps people slash tasting costs and elevate their experience while wine tasting on the west coast. Priority Experiences - We service large corporate clients that use our virtual tasting kits for sales prospecting, entertaining current customers, or for virtual team building with their own internal teams.
Tell us about yourself
I started Priority Wine Pass in 2012 as a way to honor the memory of my father, who had plans of starting and running a winery with me. Although cancer saw the end of those dreams, I started my own company as a way to cope during the hard times and to dedicate myself to the industry that my father loved so dearly. The goal was to create a tasting card program that would connect wine lovers with boutique wineries through offers and elevated wine tasting experiences.
Fortunately, the company took form and steadily grew each year. That is until March 2020, when sales stopped, and refund requests poured in due to the pandemic. At that point, rather than give up, I decided to pivot the business to stay afloat. To do this, I used my current relationships within the wine industry to curate virtual wine tasting experiences and offer them to the public.
The virtual tastings were such a success, and we started getting so many requests outside of wine that in 2021 I decided to launch an entirely new business, Priority Experiences. Since then, we've continued to grow and expand our portfolio outside of wine (beer, mixology, food, you name it!) and have focused more on bespoke virtual experiences with customizable kits.
So now that things have returned back to normal from the quarantine days, I have two growing companies, Priority Wine Pass and Priority Experiences. So, in terms of what motivates me, it's keeping both of my businesses going for my dad (no matter what life throws at me).
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'd say my biggest accomplishment is being able to roll with the punches and keeping this dream alive.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Learning how to delegate is hard, and I still have trouble with this. Once you find the right people, though, that's when you're able to do more and really start to grow.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Partner with the right people.
- Launch, test, improve, and repeat.
- Believe in yourself.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I'd love to give a shoutout to my team. We're a diverse group of power-moms and international individuals, and I wouldn't have been able to have grown either one of the businesses without them.
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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