In Conversation with Erica Blumenthal & Nikki Huganir of Yes Way Rosé

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Describe your business in a few words?

Yes Way Rosé is a contemporary wine and lifestyle brand bringing a fresh perspective to the old-school wine category. We are on a mission to spread humor, joy and positivité through high quality French rosé that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

Yes Way Rosé started with a very big passion shared between two best friends for French rosé. Rosé is an everyday thing of beauty and joy that we felt should be stylish, humorous, and accessible and that didn’t yet exist in the form of a product or a wine brand. There was really no rosé label that we connected to.  We felt confident that other people would connect to our vision for rosé so we set out to create a brand that was modern, high quality, and made people happy.  We had nothing to lose by taking the leap and in retrospect it didn’t feel like a choice. This was something we needed to do.  

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

We both worked in the fashion industry.  Erica was a fashion editor and writer for a variety of publications and wrote the Browsing column in the New York Times Styles section. Nikki worked as a graphic designer for T The New York Times Style Magazine, Madewell, and Birchbox. Our backgrounds and experience proved invaluable when developing the brand and continues to this day.   

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I wouldn’t say that either one of us always wanted to be an Entrepreneur although there was an entrepreneurial spirit.  My (Erica’s) job at the time was writing about new trends, brands, stores, and designers I loved. I was reporting on entrepreneurs constantly and what they were creating.  Because of that, I knew our vision for Yes Way Rosé was special.  

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

LOL. Our marketing strategy in 2013 when we introduced YWR as a lifestyle and used instagram to launch the brand was to talk to anyone who would listen about it and take our friends phones and follow the account. This was back when you could do something like that and people only thought you were a little bit crazy.  We didn’t understand marketing at that point and were following our instinct. We are much more strategic now. 

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

The biggest challenge we had when we first started working together, and then again when we started to really grow, was learning how to grow an empire essentially as best friends.  We have different working styles and playing to each other’s strengths in all facets of the business didn’t come innately.  We sought professional guidance for how to work through our issues and once we did it actually allowed us to soar.  We learned how to effectively communicate, how to nurture our friendship, and that our company is at its best when we are. 

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

We’re proud that we’ve been able to grow Yes Way Rosé into a widely accessible and affordable brand of high quality French rosés that spreads joy, and that we’ve successfully followed our own path in order to do it. 

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Other than the challenges of remote working and creating, we’re incredibly fortunate wine sales have remained strong and that our products were always available to customers through essential grocery stores and services like Instacart and Minibar.  We’re also fortunate that to date  there have only been  minimal delays getting the wine here from France.  While in our industry grocery store sales and online business have been strong, the restaurant and events side has been heavily impacted and that affects us as well.   

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

Since launching our still French rosé in 2018 we have introduced our Bubbles, a sparkling rosé in both regular and single serve bottles, cans of the still wine, and a line of low calorie, low alcohol, rosé based spritzes. Our goal is to grow these high quality products in the market to be the best selling rosé brand in the country and to spread joy, humor, and positivity in the process.  

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

To be honest, I think it’s a little too soon to know exactly what the biggest lesson was because it was such a relentless roller coaster of a year. That said, we learned how to be flexible and pivot in all aspects of business and life. We learned how important it is to push through. We learned that leadership can mean not making noise when there are much bigger, more pressing matters in the world and to prioritize the internal work. We learned how to do more by doing less and to do it better and more authentically.  

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

That every seemingly insurmountable challenge or problem is not the end of the world.  That businesses can survive some wear and tear, poor decisions, and if the founders need a little time off.  

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

Running our business has helped us immensely and to do what we love and do best! Otherwise, it’s really the little things that have been the most effective, like going for daily walks, cooking, catching up with friends on the phone, reading, watching a movie, etc. 

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Of course! The two of us talk through everything we want to do for the business and how it’s going to be executed and make decisions based on what is best for the brand and for our lives.  We usually know what’s in the pipeline, but if we aren’t selective and strategic then we risk the balance we both need.  It’s vital for our brand and creativity to have this balance. 

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

While when we drink rosé it’s almost exclusively ours, we also quite enjoy a dirty martini or sipping some Mezcal.  

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

  • Exercise in any way shape or form. Both of us aren’t obsessive fitness types but a good walk or 20 minute online class changes everything. 
  • We try to do our calls back to back so they aren’t spread out every day of the week.  We prefer larger chunks of time to actually do the work that needs to be done. 
  • Carve out time on the weekend to get caught up and set up for the week.  While I don’t do this every weekend, it is guaranteed to set me up for a productive week and is essential when things are busy and verging overwhelming.      

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

It means putting a fresh and game-changing idea into the world mindfully with a unique sense of style and following your own path.

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