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Women in wine: The inspiring journey of Stephanie Franklin, Fly Wines CEO

Stephanie Franklin, Fly Wines CEO

The saying “live for today, not tomorrow” is one that Stephanie Franklin embraces wholeheartedly, as you’ll see in this interview. After the devastating loss of both her mom and a close friend within a short time, she understandably struggled to find motivation. She would go on to leave her career in AdTech and pursue her passion, both to help her cope and to make the most of the present. Today, she is the Founder and CEO of Fly Wines, redefining wine tastings with subscription boxes. I ask her what makes Fly Wines unique, how she coped with the grief, what insights she would offer aspiring women entrepreneurs, and more. Let’s get to the conversation!

Disclosure: This sponsored interview offers an inspiring conversation with Stephanie Franklin of Fly Wines, who has triumphed over personal loss to pursue her passion and establish a unique venture. 

Interview with Stephanie Franklin

It’s a pleasure to interview you, Stephanie. You began Fly Wines in May 2023 and have already been featured in NASDAZ, The Business Journal, and Medium. Wow. Let’s start the interview by going back to the roots of Fly Wines.

How did you move forward to begin Fly Wines?

I found solace and inspiration in understanding the wine industry. It sparked an interest that gradually evolved into a profound passion. I wanted to unravel the enigma of the wine industry and create a venture that would redefine how people experience and appreciate wine.

Motivated by the desire to transform this passion into a purposeful venture, I started researching the wine industry extensively. This research became the foundation of Fly Wines, a place where enthusiasts like me could savor exceptional wines and unique tasting experiences, especially during challenging times.

The loss propelled me to embrace change and channel my energy into something positive and meaningful. Fly Wines became a beacon of hope, authenticity, and inclusivity in a world where people needed connections and experiences to uplift their spirits. It’s a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of pursuing one’s passions, even in the face of adversity.

That purpose and your resilience are both beautiful. How did you transition to founding a company after working in AdTech?

Transitioning from the fast-paced world of AdTech to starting a wine company was indeed a significant shift. While AdTech was dynamic and data-driven, the allure of the wine industry and its potential for innovation beckoned me.

My experience in AdTech equipped me with valuable skills, especially in marketing, analytics, and customer engagement. These skills, although different from those required in the wine industry, provided a strong foundation. Understanding consumer behavior, market trends, and effective marketing strategies became pivotal in establishing Fly Wines.

Moreover, the transition was fueled by my passion for wine. I delved into extensive research, attended wine-tasting courses, and connected with industry experts to comprehend the nuances. This learning phase was crucial to bridge the gap between my previous role and the wine business.

Starting Fly Wines required a blend of perseverance, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace a new challenge. It was about taking a leap of faith and following my passion for wine while leveraging the skills gained in the AdTech world. The journey has been enriching, allowing me to grow both personally and professionally in a vastly different industry.

That’s wonderful. What inspired the name Fly Wines?

The name Fly Wines was a product of collective brainstorming within the team. When we were contemplating a suitable name for the company, Giuliano, our sommelier, spontaneously suggested “Fly Wines.”

The name resonated with everyone, capturing a sense of freedom, elegance, and aspiration. Its simplicity and the imagery it evoked felt like the perfect fit for our brand, so we unanimously decided to move forward with it. Sometimes, the best ideas come from a spontaneous moment of creativity and agreement among the team.

Fly Wines subscription box
A Fly Wines subscription box. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Franklin.

What makes Fly Wines different than other wine subscription boxes?

Fly Wines stands out in the wine subscription industry through these distinctive features:

Exclusive Partnerships with Independent Wineries: We collaborate exclusively with global independent wineries, ensuring our offerings are unique and not found in local stores. Accessible solely through our online retail store, these wines are a curated selection.

Curated Selections with Expert Guidance: Our sommelier meticulously curates each wine, guaranteeing superior taste and quality. Complemented by educational insights, our subscribers gain a deeper understanding of the wines they enjoy.

Focus on Storytelling: Beyond taste, we emphasize the story behind each wine, unveiling the journey and passion of winemakers. This narrative adds depth to the tasting experience, making it more engaging and meaningful.

Inclusivity and Diversity: We prioritize inclusivity by featuring wines from a diverse array of global independent wineries. This approach exposes our subscribers to a wide range of flavors and styles, enhancing their appreciation for the world of wine.

Fly Wines offers an exclusive and educational wine-tasting experience, placing emphasis on diversity and storytelling, enriching the journey of wine appreciation.

What has been the public feedback so far about your offerings?

The public’s feedback on our offerings has been overwhelmingly positive. Customers have expressed surprise and delight at the luxurious packaging in which they receive the wines, exceeding their expectations.

Furthermore, they appreciate that the quality of the wine matches the high standards we promote, confirming our commitment to delivering exceptional experiences.

Terrific! Let’s look back a bit at your entrepreneurial journey. What is one obstacle you faced, and how did you overcome it?

A significant obstacle I faced was navigating the extensive hurdles of establishing a company in the wine industry, which has a high barrier of entry due to stringent regulations. Being new to this industry, I had to immerse myself in learning its intricacies and ensuring all the necessary licensing and compliance measures were in place.

Overcoming this obstacle involved thorough research, seeking guidance from industry experts, and collaborating with legal advisors to ensure we built a strong foundation for a profitable business within this industry. This experience underscored the importance of proactive preparation and a deep understanding of regulatory requirements in any sector.

On days when you feel overwhelmed, how do you cope? What centers you?

On days when I feel overwhelmed, my anchor is meditation and yoga. Engaging in these practices provides me with a sense of calm and centeredness, especially during challenging moments and when facing obstacles.

They serve as a powerful way for me to reconnect with myself and gain the clarity and strength needed to navigate through the complexities and pressures of entrepreneurship.

I sometimes have a glass of wine at the end of a tough day! What do you personally like best about wine?

What I personally appreciate most about wine is its intricacy. The moment you take a sip, a multitude of diverse notes come alive, engaging your senses and tantalizing your palate.

I find joy in unraveling and understanding these complex flavors, attempting to discern the various notes that contribute to the exquisite taste of a particular wine. It’s like embarking on a flavorful journey, and each wine tells its own unique story through its taste.

Fly Wines Subscription Quote

I’m curious: What do you wish you had known before starting this journey?

Looking back at my journey as a first-time Black woman CEO and founder, I wish I had gained a deeper understanding of the intricate operational aspects of running a business. Owning a business is akin to planning a wedding; what you anticipate it will cost is often significantly less than the actual expenses.

To a woman who wants to reach for her entrepreneurial dream but is unsure where to start, what would you say?

To a woman aspiring to embrace her entrepreneurial dream but feeling uncertain about the initial steps, I would offer this advice:

Know Yourself: Take the time to understand your strengths, weaknesses, passions, and values. Reflect on what industries resonate with your personality and align with your vision.

Research and Educate: Dive into thorough research about the industry you’re drawn to. Understand its dynamics, trends, challenges, and opportunities. Equip yourself with knowledge to make informed decisions.

Differentiate Your Vision: Develop a clear understanding of how you intend to stand out in the competitive landscape. Identify your unique selling proposition and how you’ll carve a niche for yourself.

Build a Support Network: Surround yourself with a supportive community, mentors, and like-minded individuals. Seek guidance from those who have walked the entrepreneurial path. Their experiences can be invaluable.

Start Small and Learn: Begin with manageable steps. Don’t be afraid to start small and learn from every experience. It’s through these smaller endeavors that you’ll gain the knowledge and confidence to tackle larger ventures.

Embrace Failure as Learning: Understand that failures are stepping stones to success. Don’t let them deter you. Instead, analyze them, learn from them, and let them fuel your determination to succeed.

Believe in Yourself: Have unwavering faith in your abilities and dreams. Confidence in oneself is often the driving force that propels entrepreneurs through challenges and towards their goals.

Take the Leap: When you’ve done your research and feel a sense of conviction, take that leap of faith. Trust yourself and your capabilities, and know that every step, no matter how small, is progress towards your dream.

Wow, great insights! How can she shift her mindset to embrace the present instead of saying things for tomorrow?

To shift toward living in the moment and embracing each day, start by cultivating mindfulness and gratitude, grounding yourself in the present. Set short-term achievable goals to keep you motivated and avoid overthinking.

Surround yourself with positive influences, engage in enriching activities, and be present in your relationships. Reflect on life’s impermanence not to induce fear but to drive purposeful action.

Prioritize your well-being through a balanced lifestyle and continuous learning. Let go of past regrets and limit distractions to focus on the present. It’s about finding a balance between seizing the day and planning for a fulfilling future, appreciating every moment as a precious gift.

I’m so glad you emphasized balance. What do you hope women take away from your story?

I hope women draw inspiration from my life story, focusing on the power of persistence and ambition. It’s a reminder that while we may learn and grow at different paces, our determination, drive, and ambition are within our control.

These traits can outweigh mere intelligence, showcasing that with tenacity and dedication, we can achieve great heights and shatter barriers, even if others may initially seem more intellectually endowed. It’s a call to believe in oneself and recognize the incredible strength found within determination and resilience.

Stephanie Franklin, Frounder and CEO
Stephanie Franklin shares her story to inspire others. Photo courtesy of Stephanie.

Where can we learn more about Fly Wines and get a subscription?

To learn more about Fly Wines and explore subscription options, you can visit our official Fly Wines website. Our website offers detailed information about our curated wine-tasting experiences, subscription plans that will launch in November 2023, and the opportunity to delve into the world of unique and exceptional wines we curate from independent wineries globally. Subscribe, experience, and immerse yourself in the art of fine wines with Fly Wines.

Thank you for being here, Stephanie! Is there anything else you want to add?

Fly Wines is dedicated to creating a wine-tasting experience that transcends the ordinary. We’re excited about the unique bridge we’re building between discerning wine enthusiasts and remarkable independent wineries.

Our greatest joy comes from sharing exclusive wines that often remain undiscovered, allowing wine connoisseurs and novices to unearth hidden gems beyond the renowned Napa and Sonoma regions. With a passion for storytelling and a commitment to inclusivity, we invite you to join us in this enriching journey through the fascinating world of wine.

Connect with Fly Wines online

Find out more about Fly Wines at their website! Their contact information is there if you want to reach the team, and you can find their shop, experiences, and much more.

Stephanie and the team are on social media, too! Stay up-to-date with Fly Wines by following them on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Linkedin, and X.

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