“I started my career as a wedding planner in 2005. After 13 years, I wanted to change careers, but stay in the industry without having to plan and attend so many weddings.”
“I launched LOVELUVV, a champagne line allowing me to work in weddings without being there. We donate a portion of our profits toward domestic violence causes because love shouldn’t hurt.”
“Early on I learned as much as possible. The Wine Scholar Guild offers certifications for a ‘champagne master’ where I could focus on champagne specifically and not try to tackle the whole wine industry.”
“The master’s program took two years. I’m not French. I’ve never lived in France. I’m a country girl from North Carolina. I was an outsider trying to understand what other brands have mastered for a century.”
“The first time I took the certification exam, I bombed it. I buckled down and passed on the second try, which was the only way a winemaker would take me seriously.”
“Finding the right winemaker during 2020 when there were no weddings was tough. I messaged him on Instagram telling him my story. He was interested, but I couldn’t go to France for sampling, and it took about a year before finding the blend I wanted.”
“Alcohol licensing was easy at the federal level. I am an importer and wholesale distributor, but then you have to get it at the state level because prohibition and bootlegging made it a state-by-state decision on how to sell alcohol.”
“I was waiting for approval from Chicago and Illinois when I realized how long it would take learning alcohol laws. Surrounding yourself with a good legal team on alcohol laws is critical.”
“I’m at a disadvantage because people want to work with mid-size or large distributors. I have one product and they have a portfolio with 10 options. The people who jumped on wanted to support me, they liked my story and the cause.”
“I got into wedding planning because I remember college move-in day. And I saw people’s parents who were still together. That stood out to me because my parents are divorced and I grew up in a home where I witnessed and experienced domestic violence.”
“My mom left my father when I was 10. When I came back home from school, our whole house was packed up with the help of her friend Miss Alfreda. They packed up my house during the school day.”
“My mom, my little brother and I went to Miss Alfreda’s house to stay with her for a few days before traveling to North Carolina. With LOVELUVV, I want to be people’s Miss Alfreda, helping them get out of bad situations. That’s why I want a company that focuses on something more than just celebrations. That’s when I knew very early on that I wanted to donate towards domestic violence causes.”
“As a self-distributor, I can’t sell my bottle directly to you because of bootlegging days. You have to go to BottlesUp! in Lakeview and buy it from Melissa. And they do it so everybody makes money, but it would be nice to also sell my product directly. Especially as a new business, I was at an event called the Clink Festival, they support and promote BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] wines and spirits and so many people wanted to buy directly from me at the event.”
“Everybody’s tasting and people want to buy a bottle that’s sitting right there, and I have to tell them they need to go somewhere else. It’s such an inconvenience for me and customers.”
“The massive champagne brands have financial resources for marketing and brand recognition. I combat that by telling our story as a social impact brand, but also a quality product.”
“When you support me, you’re helping to change someone’s life. Not that other brands don’t give back but it’s not what they lead with. I’ve even had people who want to support me but for corporate reasons they won’t work with a self-distributor until I grow.”
“There are almost 10,000 registered champagne brands, and only 10 that I’m aware of are Black female-owned brands. We’re all fairly new, probably 10 years or less. And we’re all competing against century-old brands.”
“That makes us less than 0.1%. Four of us are in the U.S. I’m proud of it. It’s opened some doors. People want to support Black-owned businesses because we’re rare, and I like being part of the rare club.”
Founder, LOVELUVV Champagne
Have a story to share?
Tell us how a state or local policy affects your life.
If we decide to feature your story, one of our writers will reach out to you directly.