How two friends created a million-dollar wine business during the COVID-19 pandemic

Abu Mubarik May 26, 2023
The duo solidified the vision for their business in one of their weekly girl’s nights where they got together to talk and drink sparkling wine.. Photo credit: Forbes

Meet Erica Davis and Catherine Carter, the founders of The Sip Society, a lifestyle brand that focuses on the education and discovery of champagne and sparkling wine. Both natives of Oakland, California, the duo started the wine brand after realizing wine marketing was not working for them.

“So we decided to create a space where people could decide what sparkling wine they liked without committing to purchasing a whole bottle of wine,” Davis said.

Sip Society is a subscription service where subscribers can receive a gift box containing 3 small bottles of sparkling wine every 2 months, including educational materials and a wine-related gift. What is more, they can also track the wine preferences of individuals online and also build a profile of the wine they enjoy.

The business partners launched the wine brand at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also during that time that the sale of sparkling wine dropped. However, the Sip Society was able to get about 16,000 subscribers and raked in $1.3 million in 2021.

Before starting the Sip Society, both Davis and Carter started careers in other industries. Davis graduated from the University of San Francisco and specialized in merchandising and online content development for both Gap and Darby Smart. 

Carter, on the other hand, graduated from UC Santa Barbara. She worked in hospitality and property management, and currently serves as the COO of the Sip Society.

“We were lucky,” said Davis, “because we both had excellent experience from our other jobs that allowed us to quickly launch the company and be successful.”

The duo solidified the vision for their business in one of their weekly girl’s nights where they got together to talk and drink sparkling wine.

“We did some focus groups with other female BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) groups,” said Davis “and realized there was a real need for our concept in the market. There is a critical need for diversity in the wine industry where less than 1% of wine brands are Black-owned.”

Starting their business at the height of the pandemic did not come easy, they say. Davis notes that they had challenges in the beginning regarding suppliers for sparkling wine, packaging, shipping, and other resources to launch their business. 

They buy their wine from high-end Champagne producers as well as small producers. Davis notes that they are seeking out new brands from black and women-owned businesses.

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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