Kaitlyn Bristowe really can do it all. The self-made, female entrepreneur is breaking barriers as a trailblazer in the wine industry, and she’s giving HOLR the inside scoop on everything Spade & Sparrows.
Will you accept this rosé?
Kaitlyn Bristowe’s Spade and Sparrows wine has definitely caught your eye before. This is because the brand’s approach to disrupting the market is centered around elevating and empowering the female voice in wine- it’s “Great Wine, Without the Rules.”
Founder Kaitlyn Bristowe has made a name for herself in the business as a wine-loving woman first. As a result, her passion for the craft inspired her to launch Spade and Sparrows as a brand that is geared toward wine-loving women. From the feminine packaging to the brand’s social media to the hosted events, we’re obsessed with how Spade and Sparrows is breaking down longstanding barriers with a girl boss mentality, and an emphasis on enjoying wine your way.
Check out our conversation with Kaitlyn below, as we discuss her brand beginnings, what she loves most about the custom blends, and the exciting opportunities that are currently underway for 2022.
As a self-made female entrepreneur, talk to us about your journey to founding your (incredibly delicious!) wine brand, Spade & Sparrows.
In my 20’s I worked my way up in the restaurant industry. This is where I first learned how a successful business operated, the importance of customer service, the power of creating community, and where I truly fell in love with all things wine. I was able to learn from some amazing sommeliers about wine’s rich history, winemaking, and pairing, and (aside from drinking it) my favorite part was watching how wine was at the center of so many special memories for people. I also dreamed of one day being a radio host because I loved connecting with people and hearing about their life experiences.
When I came off ABC’s The Bachelorette in 2015, it was the early days of social media, and I found an interesting opportunity to create a life of my own design. A friend and mentor reached out and gave me some crucial business advice. She said: “Kaitlyn, you are going to get a ton of opportunities presented to you, but you need to stick with business ventures and partnerships that you are authentically aligned to and truly passionate about. If you don’t, this newfound success will be ripped away just as fast as it’s been created.” I took this advice very seriously and followed my dreams, and because of my earlier ambitions to become a radio host, I decided to start a wine-centric podcast called Off the Vine. Once the podcast was up and running, it felt like a natural next step to start my own wine label, Spade & Sparrows.
My path to success was never going to be linear. I didn’t go to university to get a business degree. I knew the value of hard work, I focused on my passions, and I stayed true to myself. For anyone wondering where to start, Warren Buffet’s 5/25 rule (where you write down 25 of your goals, draw a circle around your top 5 and then ignore the other 20 at all costs) is a great way to start manifesting your dreams.
You’re breaking barriers as a trailblazer in the industry in regard to the taste of your product, the packaging, and how you market to your consumer base. What inspired you to go about doing business differently when it came to starting your own wine brand?
After learning so much about wine through the restaurant industry, I came to realize that wine wasn’t being marketed to me (a female, millennial consumer) and instead was being marketed to men. There was a common slogan in the wine industry that said, “market to men, and women will follow.” This was totally absurd to me. Women (especially female millennials) consume more wine than men do! So, I had to flip this approach on its head. Everything we do at Spade & Sparrows speaks to women first, and we continually strive to elevate and empower the female voice in wine. From our feminine packaging to our social media to the events we host, everything is geared toward wine-loving women. What’s funny to me now is I always see videos of women bringing home Spade & Sparrows to their husbands or boyfriends, and the men are always really enjoying it.
For a long time, wine has been associated with exclusivity and snobby-ness. We have removed that aspect entirely from our brand. I was so bored of seeing images of wine on a perfectly curated dinner table, it’s beautiful to look at and certainly aspirational, but it’s not the reality for many of us women. We keep it real and relatable by pairing our Pinot Grigio with a gigantic pile of laundry on a Tuesday night after you get your kids to bed. We pair our Rose with a huge bowl of popcorn and Netflix on the couch. Often, this is how millennial women enjoy wine, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Our brand motto is “Great Wine, Without the Rules.” We don’t care what kind of glass you use, what you pair it with, or how/when you enjoy it – as long as you enjoy it, that’s all that matters. If you obey all the rules, you miss all of the fun, and you can see that in all aspects of Spade & Sparrows.
You’re incredibly passionate about your product. What do you love most about the different blends you created for Spade & Sparrows?
I work closely with my winemaker to ensure all my varietals are exactly what I love to drink. I’m really proud of the quality of our wine, I think sometimes when people see an influencer or celebrity associated with a brand they assume the quality might be lacking (and rightfully so with certain products). I’ve worked really hard to ensure our wines are of exceptional quality and incredibly delicious. I love when people first taste Spade & Sparrows and say “wow, it’s SO good!” like they were expecting something different. If it wasn’t delicious, I wouldn’t be drinking it and sharing it with the people I love most.
I love that all 4 of our current varietals are low sugar. This was super important to me (not only because I’m not a huge fan of sweet wine) but also because the sugar content is the number one culprit of headaches for people after drinking wine. Our Pinot Grigio is light and crisp with notes of citrus and green apple. I love making a spritz with it by adding ice, soda water, and a couple of fresh basil leaves. Our Rosé is dry, but fruit-forward, with notes of strawberries and rose petals and I often add a few slices of freshly chopped jalapenos for a spicy kick (don’t knock it until you try it!). I know we are not supposed to pick our favorite children, but our Pinot Noir is my everyday go-to bottle with notes of ripe raspberry, cherries & a hint of spice (it’s even better slightly chilled, thank me later). Our Cabernet Sauvignon is big, bold, and smooth with notes of strawberries, blackberries, and aromas of cocoa & vanilla – and our top seller year after year.
We heard that you may be able to shop Spade & Sparrows in Target stores soon! What was the process like in terms of getting that coveted shelf space (in such a nationally-recognized chain), and what does this mean for the brand?
This partnership has been a long time in the making and we definitely did not go the traditional route to get their attention. Typically, you would need to share a sales presentation through your distributors for consideration by any major retailer. Sometimes, these presentations only happen once a year and it’s challenging because you are not the one representing your own business or telling your brand story. So, we decided to take matters into our own hands by utilizing my highly engaged community and the power of social media (specifically viral TikTok trends) to speak directly to Target and show them that if they stocked Spade & Sparrows, thousands of people would buy it. The likes & comments spoke for themselves, and we presented a case they couldn’t ignore. This has been my number one goal since we founded the company in 2019. We will be launching in all 142 Target locations across the state of Texas in September. We are so excited to see what we can do in the US retail market, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have a partner like Target. This marks an important step in Spade & Sparrows’ evolution to becoming broadly available in US retail and becoming the go-to wine brand for female millennials.
As a brand owner, what are you most excited about for 2022?
In-person events! We grew this brand mainly during a global pandemic and held so many incredible virtual events with our wine club, but now it’s time for us to get face-to-face with our community and enjoy some wine together. We did a ton of events across Canada this summer and it was so nice to see so many smiling faces while they sipped Spade & Sparrows. This was one of the main reasons I founded this brand, to bring women together, create community, and empower one another – because when women truly support and raise each other up, incredible things happen (and it definitely doesn’t hurt to have a great glass of wine in hand while doing it ).
Published by HOLR Magazine.