Live Purely with Dana Spaulding
Dana Spaulding on Elevating Wine, One Single-Serving at a Time
It all started when Dana Spaulding, founder and CEO of Wander + Ivy, wanted to mark a special life event without the guilt of opening a whole bottle of wine. What she and her husband came up with has not only transformed their lives but has also made a significant impact on wine enthusiasts everywhere.
In this week's conversation with Elizabeth, Dana discusses her transition from a nearly decade-long career in finance at JP Morgan to becoming a certified sommelier and launching Wander + Ivy. She shares insights into the world of organic wines, her global wine sourcing practices, and her approach to balancing work and family through time blocking. Dana also emphasizes the importance of embracing her CEO role's strengths and representing her brand authentically. Plus, she talks about the stylish yet practical single-serve glass bottle that has become a hallmark of Wander + Ivy's success.
This is such a beautiful, happy, middle place of being able to indulge, but still doing it in this kind of health and wellness mindset of being mindful of what's going into your body.-Dana Spaulding
Podcast transcript below:
Hi, everyone. I'm Elizabeth Stein, founder, and CEO of Purely Elizabeth. And this is Live Purely with Elizabeth, featuring candid conversations about how to thrive on your wellness journey.
This week's guest is Dana Spaulding founder and CEO of Wander + Ivy, a female-founded company that partners with award-winning family-owned vineyards around the world to bring you a premium line that is made with certified organic grapes packaged in chic yet convenient single-serve glass bottles. In 2017, after almost a decade in the finance world, the former JP Morgan banker turned certified Som founded Wander + Ivy to be the premium and organic single-serve wine brand. In this episode, Dana shares all about her journey creating Wander + Ivy when she is personally tired of wasting another bottle of wine and couldn't find a high-quality single-serve option on store shelves. We talked about what it means to be organic in the wine space, how she sources her wines from around the world, utilizing your superpowers to perform and do your best, how to prioritize work and family, using time-blocking steps for manifesting some of her favorite ways to feel her best. I had so much fun catching up with my friend Dana. Keep listening to learn more. And if you want to try her wines, which I highly recommend, as my fridge and pantry are stocked with beautiful bottles, visit wanderandivy.com. And use code LIVEPURELY for 20% off. Enjoy.
Dana, welcome to the podcast. Such a fun way to spend a Friday morning with you.
Dana Spaulding 2:03
Thank you so much for having me. I'm so happy to be here.
Elizabeth Stein 2:06
I'm a huge fan of yours and your brand. I must say we just had our team off-site this week. And we took a party bus to a farm dinner. And it was the absolute most perfect thing because we filled a cooler with all of your Wander + Ivy products and everyone in the company just absolutely loved it. So, thank you.
Dana Spaulding 2:27
That is so awesome. I'm so glad everybody enjoyed it. What a great setting for it.
Elizabeth Stein 2:31
Yeah, it was perfect. So let's start with your background. You certainly haven't always been in wine. Curious, actually. What did you go to school for?
Dana Spaulding 2:39
I went to school for Business and Economics. Interestingly, I chose Fordham so that I could be in a business school. But I was also a dancer my whole life. So, I wanted a strong business school and a performing arts school in New York City where I could potentially pursue both paths. I ended up going down the finance path. But I studied, did all the dance opportunities and the finance internships and then ultimately just decided to keep dance as a hobby.
Elizabeth Stein 3:09
Do you ever dance now?
Dana Spaulding 3:10
Oh, gosh, I turned it more into yoga once we came to Colorado. I fell in love with core power once we came here. It's harder, it's less accessible than in New York City. I was working at JPMorgan crazy hours, then I would still find time at 9 p.m., for evening senior dance class, which I loved. So it was accessible for a couple of years. But when I came here, I fell in love with yoga, which I didn't do a ton before. So, it's been a shift for me and I love doing it. But I dance a little less. I dance with my kids all the time in the kitchen.
Elizabeth Stein 3:49
That’s fun. Love core power, too. Let's talk a little bit about your time at JP Morgan and ultimately how that landed you on this path to starting Wander + Ivy.
Dana Spaulding 3:58
Yeah, I went to school for business. My dad has been an entrepreneur ever since I could remember. So, I always thought it would be cool to start something. I was always very inspired by my dad. I didn't know what that looked like. That's why I went to business school. For me, that translated into finance and then more of the traditional finance internship opportunities. And I landed a few and then ultimately with JPMorgan, I loved private wealth management. It was, for me, this wonderful mix of the analytical side of finance, but also the people side because it's managing wealth for very successful individuals and their families. I loved that and then just as I mentioned, decided to keep dance as a hobby, pursue that professionally, got a full-time job, and then spent almost 10 years, my whole professional life, up until founding Wander + Ivy there. And within private wealth management, your job with your team is to manage well for successful entrepreneurs and their families. But in New York, my team focused on hedge fund principals and Wall Street executives. So, very different, incredible experience that I had. But then when I came to Colorado, I had the opportunity to be on a team that focused on food and beverage and health and wellness and a couple of other industries that I was like, wow, like this is pretty exciting.
Elizabeth Stein 5:22
And was that your choice or that just happened like, okay, this could be interesting?
Dana Spaulding 5:27
Well, what was great was that the Colorado market and the Rockies region for the bank at that time were being built out. And there was also this amazing time here when there was so much wealth being created. Whereas for both coasts, particularly in New York, it was a lot of older generational wealth, new wealth, too, but especially here, it was this huge wealth generation, and especially the food and beverage category with these big names 10-15 years ago, making a splash for the Rockies region. I raised my hand for food and beverage, but honestly, no one was fighting for the times. There were one or two big names that were making a splash in the category. And I just loved it. So I covered biotech, food and beverage, health and wellness, those were my core areas. And I was like, how fun and exciting are these? I a little bit got to carve it out because of the situation that the Rockies were in this era of wealth generation. I knew I wanted to ultimately start a business, but I had no idea what it looked like. So when I came here and got to experience so many founders like yourself, I was like, wow, this couldn't be more inspiring. They're building just these new innovative companies that are in this category. That's exciting to me. So Gus, my husband, and I were often throwing out these crazy ideas like classic ideas. One evening, I was celebrating some minor when at work, and I came home and made this big, fancy dinner, and I was going to open up a bottle of wine. And that's what he said to me, “Again? You're going to do this? You're gonna waste another bottle?” And I was so frustrated, my whole excitement for the evening…
Elizabeth Stein 7:08
A way to bust my moment.
Dana Spaulding 7:12
Yeah. I was so, at the moment, annoyed. And now I give him so much credit because he was the one that was like, “Hey, you're opening up bottles a lot. And I have a glass of whiskey or beer.” He at the time, wasn't as much of a wine drinker as he is today. And it was just like, come on, you gotta at least start looking in the alternative wine category. I didn't know a ton about it. But I just personally looked at the cans the boxes and the bags. And that was when I had the initial spark that none of these feel like a luxury to me, especially in that specific moment where I just wanted to treat. I wanted to have it be this wonderful celebration at the end of a long day. And at the same time, not wasteful. I didn't find any of those other packages to feel like that. Then when I dug a little bit deeper, I identified that there's very little focus on clean, natural, and organic ingredients here. And I care so much. Like I'm eating my Purely Elizabeth, I'm eating all these other foods from Whole Foods and caring so deeply about what goes into my body. And when I just did the research, it was very eye-opening to me to see that there's not a lot of transparency around what is in your wine. And that was fascinating to me. And that was when there were enough of these aha moments and differentiators that I could bring to a brand, that that to me felt like, if I were to do something, this feels like there's this gap. There's this huge opportunity in the market. So, why don't instead of going out and finding it, just create it myself?
Elizabeth Stein 8:43
I love that. I mean, there are so many amazing pieces of the brand that you're building that hit on all of the marks. And to your point, we care so much about what we're putting into our bodies, what we're consuming, the lotions, and things on our faces. And I feel you're bringing it to market but that conversation is still not there and alcohol. People are drinking regular wine and grapes are dirty dozen. So, it's certainly one that we want to be having from the best sources. Can you talk a little bit, and explain, because I know I just asked you this the other night, what does it mean to make with organic grapes and this distinction on that?
Dana Spaulding 9:23
Yeah, I love the question. To your original point of just has it been as much of a part of the conversation. That was what was so exciting to me was that I think it's just the early days of people getting more educated and I'd love to be a part of that education with folks.
Elizabeth Stein 9:39
I also think it's not only that, but the previous experiences of natural organic wines haven't been good. They’ve been not a luxury, not a good wine. So, I think people haven't experienced what you're bringing to market.
Dana Spaulding 9:59
Oh, thank you. I'll talk about the two differences. And then maybe I'll touch on a little bit about that as well, in terms of, some organic wine can be funky and be different. There has been this negative connotation of what it is. But from a regulatory standpoint, two terms are regulated by the USDA and the TTB. I think people are familiar with USDA, but TTB stands for Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, just another national regulatory agency. There are clear rules for what can be organic wine and wine made with certified organic grapes. It's confusing sometimes to people because those sound similar, but there are some differences. Both of them require all grapes to be grown 100% organically. Just like the food that we eat, all the grapes must be grown organically, with no synthetic chemicals, no fertilizers, no genetically modified anything, or anything that the USDA deems harmful or potentially toxic. So, that's the grape-growing process. The other piece of the winemaking process, which I think is certainly the lesser known of the two. Like, oh, that could be non-organic. But there are over 50 additives in wine in the US at least that can be included. And what the USDA and TTB say is that there's a list of allowed and prohibited substances that just cannot be included in the winemaking process. And that's really important. Again, to the educational piece of not understanding initially that things like gelatin and other color additives and things that were in your food, you'd probably be like, I'm not going to buy that. But what I found interesting was from a regulatory standpoint, ingredients aren't required on wine. So, that is one of the reasons why consumers don't necessarily know what's in it. However, the USDA and TTB require this allowed list of substances and prohibited list.
The core difference between organic wine and wine made with organic grapes is sulfites. Naturally occurring sulfur dioxide happens in the winemaking process. All wine has naturally occurred to an extent, but then you could also add sulfites as a preservative. A lot of the mass-produced wines have a very high level of preservatives. And for 100% Organic wine, no sulfites can be added. Sometimes that can lead to a little bit of that funkiness or wine just not being as shelf-stable because it doesn't have any. Not that all wine for sure is that on the organic side, but I think that has led to some of the negative feedback. What I've been focused on, is that our brand is wine made with organic grapes, which still of course has to follow the organic grape regulation, so no synthetic fertilizers or anything along those lines. But then we can have 0 to up to 100 parts per million of sulfites. So a very small amount of sulfites. Often the analogy is that the amount of dried fruit, for example, has oftentimes even more sulfites than that. So still a very small amount of sulfites is used to keep it shelf stable. So especially for international lines, like ours were a global importer, it's very important to us for the journey of the wine that it stays healthy, stays shelf stable for consumers once they buy it, so, we have a very small amount of sulfites. So, that's the key difference. If someone is truly allergic to sulfites, they must avoid it. But oftentimes, what people are experiencing is a reaction to a very high level of sulfites that can be in these mass-produced wines.
Elizabeth Stein 13:46
And is it also people reacting to a lot of sugar at it too?
Dana Spaulding 13:50
All of the research that I've seen shows that it oftentimes is the combination of alcohol, all the other additives that can be included sugar, and all of it together. And, again, everybody's different. But when you have so many things combined in one wine. Oftentimes you can have a negative reaction. So it's not that surprising, like the flush cheeks or bad headaches. What I always say is in the way we think about it or food, if you're aiming overall to be as clean as possible, why don't we think about that in the wine set as well? No added sugar like our wines, the organic grape, so none of the harmful toxins there, and just be as clean as possible, knowing that it isn't indulgence in alcohol, alcohol is still in there. But let's make it as clean as possible so you feel good the next day.
Elizabeth Stein 14:36
Absolutely. And it's a single serve, so perhaps you're less likely to drink so much.
Dana Spaulding 14:42
Exactly. That's the other piece of it as well like, I tried to live such a healthy lifestyle but also loved to indulge, but as Gus very clearly pointed out, I was being wasteful. I think I hear all the time and it just warms my heart because I love that so many people have had the same experience, I either end up drinking a whole bottle because I feel guilty about it, or I don't open it at all. Then I'm like, well, I wanted to cheat myself. So this is such a beautiful, happy, middle place of being able to indulge, but still doing it in this health and wellness mindset, of being mindful of what's going into your body.
Elizabeth Stein 15:20
I love that philosophy. I feel the same way. You mentioned it's a beautiful experience. And that certainly leads me to the beautiful packaging and the glass bottle, which is so unique and beautiful. Did you have that vision from the beginning? Or when did that come into play?
Dana Spaulding 15:37
Well, thank you. Yes, I have. The first thing that I experienced, funny enough, was I went out into this exploratory stage, I got the bags, and the cans of boxes, and I put them in my fridge. And then I further annoyed Gus, because I just let them sit there. And that, for me, was interesting. Because I found myself, I wasn't noticing it right away until he highlighted it. There was an experience where I felt like that would be a luxury where I wanted to celebrate something. It still felt like settling. And it was from a packaging standpoint because, at that point, I hadn't even tried what was in the package. It was really like that doesn't feel like a luxury. It just feels like settling. So if that wasn't enticing to me, from the beginning, I knew that this was going to be the first thing that consumers experience with the brand that has to be innovative and then also luxury, because at that time, there also was a flood of cans to the market. They've done an amazing thing showing portability and accessibility. But at the same time, there were so many of them. And every ride brand was diving into cans, very well-known wine brands. So I thought if I'm going to create something from scratch, this needs to stand alone and stand apart from everything else on the shelf. So I wanted it to feel like a luxury. And I needed it to be different enough. So that was a big focus of ours. And I look at other beverage categories and what other brands felt like fancy water, for example. And I was like that feels super sexy and chic, because of the packaging for some brands. Can I do that in a way in wine that felt still unique and special to Wander + Ivy in a way that we could ultimately patent which we did? But then also draw inspiration from other categories that I think have done a nice job of having it feel elevated just with the packaging alone.
Elizabeth Stein 17:35
I love that. I think it's so interesting to look outside your category to draw inspiration. I feel like sometimes that's where the best ideas come from. And certainly, it did. When you say you have a patent, does that mean that nobody else can put wine in a similar bottle? Or what does that mean, exactly?
Dana Spaulding 18:00
You're going down a legal path. Pretty complicated. I tried hard to wrap as much protection around the brand as possible. So our bottle has enough differentiators to stand out in the category. So yes, our bottom line is labeled design, patented such that ideally, the goal is that it causes other brands to not step into something that you're doing. Of course, I'm sure our legal team will say that there are exceptions always. But the idea is…
Elizabeth Stein 18:27
We share the same legal team.
Dana Spaulding 18:31
Who I love. What I had said to them was what we're doing is so different. I'd like to protect it as much as possible. It's hard in the food and beverage category to wrap yourself around it because so many of the images are similar. We tried hard to build enough things that made us stand out. For example, a punch on the bottom of our bottle is meant to replicate a traditional wine bottle. We have our very specific habit, which is designed for the look but also functionality. So we tried hard to do so much around the bottle design to protect as much as possible. Does that mean no one will step in? Who knows? And can we protect it? The goal is yes, always. But my goal is also to demonstrate to all partners, team partners, and investors that what we've done is so different and stands out so much that we were able to go through the very long, complicated process of getting patented and I'm so proud of that.
Elizabeth Stein 19:32
It's amazing. Looking back to the night that Gus told you to stop opening another bottle of wine, what was the time that it went from that? That night, were you like, this is an idea or this is an idea and I think that this is going to be something? At what point did you feel like this is it?
Dana Spaulding 19:52
It wasn't that night. That night was what I thought let's explore this category. Shared a very personal interest in shopping that night. So, it was when I went out and bought what existed and then brought them home and was like, this feels like something, especially when he was like, “You're not even drinking what's in the refrigerator.” So, that was the first spark for me. Then it was about a six-to-nine-month process of digging in, understanding the category, especially not coming from the wine industry, learning the category, and building out an actual business model. Like okay, if I did this, what on earth would it look like? And honestly, it was also talking with other people in the industry and also founders saying, is this a good idea? Picking their brains, initially sharing the business model. Is this worthwhile? Because I worked hard. I wasn't leaving a job that I strongly disliked. It was something that I always wanted to build. I wanted to build a company, but I had no idea what it was. And I was like, I'm gonna do this. I feel strongly about what I'm doing because I'm leaving a pretty comfortable place that I've worked hard for. It took some time to build up the courage, but it was probably nine months in total until I left my day job at JPMorgan.
Elizabeth Stein 21:17
Was there anything specific you remember that put you over the edge as far as building up your courage?
Dana Spaulding 21:23
Yes. One, Gus is incredible and he was so supportive, thankfully. I think if you have a partner, and they're not, I think that can hinder you, for sure. That was first and foremost. But also, interestingly, I was in the process of getting people's advice on, what do you think of this? How does it sound? I had that conversation with a lot of other founders and one in particular, I so appreciated him saying, because the way I positioned it was, “Hey, I'll probably do it and it will be a side hustle.” And I appreciated that he had said, “This is a good idea. If you don't do this now, someone else will and they'll do it better. And you're gonna be upset about that. So, dive in with your whole heart today.” And he said it just like that. And it was like a little bit of a tough love that I felt like I needed to push me over the edge. Because enough people had already said this is a great idea. But he was someone that I didn't have a personal relationship with. It was primarily business. So, I think there's the worry and talking with friends and family of like, “Great idea”, and just being your cheerleaders, which is wonderful. But having more third parties say this is a great idea. And him saying, “You have to do this now. Don't do it as a side. I understand the need to plan as much as you can financially”, which we did for those nine months. “But you can't be doing this on the side. Go all in and do it today.” And I was like, Yeah, you're right. And then I did very shortly after that.
Elizabeth Stein 22:58
It's such good advice. I think it's always all about timing. And that was a case in point for you. So building the brand by sourcing your grapes from around the world, how difficult was that initially? Getting those partners, sourcing, finding, and also, I guess, let’s take a step back before that, touching on that you got your sommelier certification.
Dana Spaulding 23:25
Yeah. Honestly, I remember sitting down at the beginning, saying, step one. You're trying to build the steps, especially at the beginning, when you have no idea of what that roadmap looks like, and trying to build it for yourself. I knew not coming from the industry, I wanted to build my knowledge and credibility, knowing that I was going to be an investor-backed company that that was a plan for me to raise. I wanted the credibility of having my self-certification. So signing up for that and going through our process was very early on. And a couple of days after leaving, I knew what that looked like. Then within the business model for the partners, I look back and it's interesting, I love how I went about finding partners but this is one of the pieces that if I came from the category, I would have known there are brokers that you could go through and they can help you in the process, you pay for them. I love that we all go direct. I never even knew that brokers or these third-party intermediaries were a thing. Because now, we're five years in and we're still sourcing from a lot of the same partners who I love. And we have such incredible relationships and they’re direct relationships. I think I shared with ones for example in Valencia, Spain. They invite us. Next year though for example, they're gonna invite us for paella with him and his father and just have such a cool, deep relationship and they say things along the lines of, “We remember when you source 1000 leaders versus now 50,000+ at multiple times a year.” So, that's been cool. But my process honestly felt comfortable because it felt similar to building this universe of prospective people. I wanted to work with JP Morgan, you built the universe.
Oftentimes, they're challenging people to get in front of or get to know. But you just put yourself out there. We of course now have built it out to a much more sophisticated process. But at the beginning, it was just me not knowing that anyone else third party existed, reaching out to the suppliers that I identified were in our universe. And that checked certain boxes of criteria. So for us, it was certified organic and recognized by the USDA. I learned quite quickly that other global wines are oftentimes not, if they're organic, for example, New Zealand, they're likely not hitting all the boxes of USDA. They use some of the specific prohibited substances on the USDA list. It'll be one. I was so excited, for example, with this one New Zealand supplier. And with the time difference and a bit crazy hour, so excited. And I find that they put potassium metabisulfite which is a random one ingredient that the USDA doesn't allow. I learned quickly that I had to dig into their ingredient list, and it needed to be approved by the USDA. I wanted them to be award-winning and internationally recognized in some way, demonstrating their success in the industry and family-owned. For us, because the packaging is very exploratory in many ways for consumers, I wanted the grape and the region to be very recognizable and familiar to folks. Like going up and being like, okay, that's from California, okay, that's a Spanish red blend. That feels comfortable. The package is exploratory. So, that's cool. So I focused on renowned wine regions and the most popular grape varietals that if they checked those boxes I sampled initially. And then we went through multiple consumer focus. Again, this has evolved into even more sophisticated processes, but it still involved, to an extent, consumer focus groups, and industry experts. Which don't always overlap like the master soms and the female millennial. So it's been important to have both of their perspectives. Our internal team has been built out greatly, which I'm so appreciative of and grateful for, the amazing talent on our team. And then the industry experts also taste and provide their feedback. That helped us hone in on who we want to partner with. And we've had these amazing partners for years now.
Elizabeth Stein 27:44
I remember you invited me over to drink wine and try some things out. How many wines did you go through to pick your cab for example?
Dana Spaulding 27:55
Yeah. Shipping the wine, especially at the beginning because you're covering those costs, it was also a strategic decision on, okay, they have to check every single one of our boxes. And I would say one other piece of it is pricing as well. Because of course, it could be a gorgeous wine. But if it's per bottle $500, it's not going to land on the shelf where I want it to be. So, if they checked all the boxes including price, then there are probably 5 to 10 of the varietals that we would consider. And it's funny all the time. Gus would say like, “I don't hate this new role that you're in.” because some of the early taste testers, it was just me and him. Then we build out the consumer focus groups and the industry expert groups. But it was exciting to hear people's feedback and what they will be willing to pay for the particular varietals and the vintages that we were looking at. But I didn't go crazy with it, especially because we were taking on the cost of shipping internationally and reviewing so many different varietals in the beginning. So probably narrowed down to 5 to 10 varietals at the beginning. And now we're just hyper-selective and we have a pretty good understanding of the taste profile. So, I would say it's anywhere from 3 to 5 that we're tasting, that we're truly considering. Because not that many will check every one of the boxes. So, it's not even worth going through that tasting process.
Dana Spaulding 29:22
It’s still pretty hard to hit those benchmarks. So if someone has not had Wander + Ivy, they're new to the brand. What do you tell them? And people have their preferences for the type of wine. But if someone says, “I like all wines”, what do you tell someone to start with?
Dana Spaulding 29:37
So we have a mixed varietal pack. So, fortunately, that's by far our best seller because people love it. After all, it's a way for them to experiment. If they're just in a wine shop and want to get one bottle, I tend to ask them a couple of questions. Like where do you typically lean? Do you like super dry or red? Sometimes I would say people have a specific opinion on whether they're red or white. They know that but then people get a little nervous to dig into any weeds. But if they like one of those varietals, then I'll try to lean them to what they like. But oftentimes people will say, “What's your favorite?” From the beginning, our red blend has been my favorite. It's a mix of Bobal and Merlot. And what's fun from a consumer standpoint about it is that there's this very recognizable Merlot that I would say most US consumers are familiar with. And then there's this super sexy, way lesser-known Bobal which is native to Valencia, Spain, which I wasn't familiar with until going through my som certifications. And it just brings such a chocolatey, spicy amazingness to it, and it's really dry. It's great for a lot of meals. I typically say that's been my favorite from the beginning. I'm also currently touring because I love our brand-new Sauvignon Blanc. So if someone's a red drinker, for sure, that's my favorite. But I keep saying I feel like I'm cheating on a red blend because I love the new Sauvignon Blanc so much.
Elizabeth Stein 31:14
I’ve been loving it too. And I'm not a Sauvignon Blanc drinker. I've been using a lot in food and cooking.
Dana Spaulding 31:18
I love that. It's such a personal preference. And if people have no clue for themselves, or gifting to others, I always say for gifting, we now also have our four packs. So I'm like, “Hey, if you have no idea, a mixed varietal is the way to go. Let them choose and figure out what they like the best.”
Elizabeth Stein 31:32
Love that. You're available on D2C and elsewhere, what has been your approach to building the brand? And you're certainly standing out in so many ways with the packaging, the offering of the actual product. But how do you think about really getting out there? And you've done such a phenomenal job of doing it so far.
Dana Spaulding 31:55
We do have the two sides of the business. The online wine shop, the direct-to-consumer, which we shipped to 38 states. So most states in the US, you can. And we're also now in stores and in hotels in 18 states, which is exciting for us. So there's these huge, big areas of the business. And first and foremost, it was building an amazing product that people love, which was hard from the beginning. I know, we talked about winery partners, but the bottling partners were also really challenging initially to find because what we were doing was so wild, and so different. There's been a lack of innovation in the category. So, first and foremost, in terms of building the brand was like if we're going to do this, let's do it right. Let's make sure we have an incredible product. And then from there, I have just found that for consumer brands, elevating the brand across the country and investing in marketing, even though it's been a heavy investment for us, it's been so worthwhile. On both sides of the business, it's like such a big multi-pronged approach, because it's investing on the digital side, which is so important to build our community as you have and build out all of our digital needs. Offline, we're touching on the PR, which has been such a huge focus of ours, but elevating the brand across the country from a traditional PR perspective, whether it's print or digital broadcast. Those are important to us. Then also partner with our wholesale partners and the retailers that we're in. Like how do we elevate the brand when someone walks in and gets excited, we do everything we can to make it jump off the shelf. And telling that story is a major investment. So, as a board, strategically, we've decided we're going to invest quite heavily from an investment standpoint, or a marketing standpoint so that people across the country learn who we are, get excited and then ultimately fall in love. And it's a must-have in their house, which is so exciting. And building the team around us to be able to execute. I'm trying so hard to keep a lean mean team and not grow too fast there. But having such incredible talent on the team has been important to me in terms of building out the right people.
Elizabeth Stein 34:01
I think it's also been really interesting, your approach to getting into hotels and such a great fit for a minibar and someone to experience it at a hotel and then go home and buy it in their store, buy it online.
Dana Spaulding 34:15
I love that you said that. Funny enough, we sent out our quarterly investor update yesterday, one of our investors sent me just an anecdote which I love hearing so much. She has one of her Wander + Ivy water bottles, which was a gift at one of our investor meetings. She was playing tennis and randomly the person across playing her said, “How do you know Wander + Ivy?“ And she said, “Oh, I am an investor in them and how do you know Wander + Ivy?” And she said, “Oh, I tasted them at the Broadmoor Hotel. And I'm now obsessed and I buy them every week and I'm in love with the Rosé.” I love that the investor shared that because of the hotel business for us, I've always seen it as such a major opportunity. But throughout the pandemic, we entirely placed it on hold, of course. And then as travel started to reemerge, we just saw so much success in getting into hotels, there were immediate success stories. And in that setting, we are not competing with a sea of other brands. And it's exactly what guests are looking for all the time. We hear guests no longer want these overpriced 750-milliliter bottles of red when it's just them. Let's give them something that feels like a luxury, feels accessible, and looks beautiful in the minibar. So, that's been great. And then hearing anecdotally, because it is hard to measure that piece of it from a marketing perspective. But hearing anecdotally more and more of, “Oh, I saw it in this hotel, and now I'm obsessed, and I buy it every week”, whether it's online or in stores, it is amazing. So, we're focused on that from a sales perspective of really getting it in as many of the luxury hotels as possible across the country. Oftentimes that opens up new states for us, like Florida, for example, where a large hotel bringing us in, and now we're like, okay, let's attack stores. But step one was getting people to see it, and then they loved it so much, that they went to their store across the street and bought it.
Elizabeth Stein 36:06
I love that strategy. As you mentioned investors, I'm curious to hear either from investors or board members, what has been the best advice or maybe best and worst advice that helped you along the way these last couple of years?
Dana Spaulding 36:24
I would say some of the more challenging things sometimes, especially at the beginning, you hear a lot of conflicting advice in terms of how to do it. It's hard to do anything along the lines of building the model. So, not necessarily that it's bad advice. It's just you hear the whole spectrum of it when people are thinking about putting their dollars behind you. But in terms of the best advice, I will say, I am so in love. It feels so grateful to our board, I've told you that. I just feel so fortunate with the people around us. They're so talented in the industry and care so deeply about our mission and also help lift me in ways that sometimes I'm not even doing. I think I tend to fall in the category of highlighting flaws like maybe a stereotypical founder does. Like, here are all the things that I need to improve and work on. And what I appreciate from our board, the way that they said it a couple quarters ago was, really identifying my superpowers. They use that word in particular, you need to embrace these specific superpowers.
Elizabeth Stein 37:33
You’ve already got superpowers.
Dana Spaulding 37:34
Now you're gonna make me blush. Talking about it in the context of how exciting broadcast is and Dale Katechis is on our board, he founded Oskar Blues. One of the biggest moments for them was a PR moment in the history of Oskar Blues. So, we talk a lot about the power of PR, which is why we invest in that. And they've seen me on some national broadcasts. I appreciate that whether it's standing in front of a sales team, but particularly on broadcast, you need to embrace, how great of a representative of the brand you are, and your PR team needs to get you on. And that's something that I think is hard, at least for me to say to a PR team, to give them a directive, which is saying, “I'm great at this.” However, as a former dancer, I love being on stage. I love having the spotlight on me. That was something that I learned to love, and it was something I'm proud of. So, it gives me confidence in front of sales teams or any sales pitches. But I feel myself light up in those kinds of broadcast opportunities and opportunities to represent the brand across the country. So, I appreciate that they lift me in a way to say embrace your superpowers, own them, and lean into them and help. You're not great at everything. Bring in other people for the areas where perhaps you are lacking. But for these couple of things, you shine and just embrace it rather than shying away or not necessarily as boldly saying it to your PR team but don't be afraid of it. Embrace your superpower and represent the brand in the way that you can, and I was very humbled by that.
Elizabeth Stein 39:27
I love that. That's amazing for your board to tell you and I think just great advice for anybody who recognizes what it is that lights you up and it’s that superpower and focusing on that as much as you can versus the things that don't light you up and you don't feel so good about.
Dana Spaulding 39:47
I agree. It was good advice and they're not yes people by any means. They push me and they motivate me. But another reminder to surround yourself with the people who push you and inspire you and are great strategic thinkers behind the brand, but also can lift you and be there and believe in you. So, that's been important for me.
Elizabeth Stein 40:08
So speaking of people who inspire you and lift you, you're also a mother of two. How do you prioritize and work through being a mom, a CEO, a wife, and to feel your best?
Dana Spaulding 40:30
Yes, I try to avoid the word balance as well in that context. Ever since I had Maelyn, she's three and a half now. I've three and a half years old and a one-and-a-half year old. Ever since I had her, I tried so hard to hyper-prioritize, and what worked for me and what continues to work for me is being consistent with time blocking and having not only my family aware of that, but my team aware that this is family time, this is Wander+Ivy time. Many people found it to be nearly as productive or impactful if I'm trying to do it all, as we're hyper-trained to multitask. I've tried to focus on the business and not do 10 other personal things while doing that. And when I'm with my kids, I put my phone away. And I'm really, careful about that. And then I work a little, for example, after they go to bed if I need to do anything else. But when I'm with them, I focus on them. And as you said, my favorite, most important roles in life are mom, wife, and CEO. So, being my best version of myself oftentimes making a bit other sacrifices in terms of not perhaps going out late with girlfriends in the evening, knowing I'm certainly not going to show up as my best self the next day, and prioritizing sleep, prioritizing all the things that make me feel happy and healthy. Because those are the three roles that are just most important, and also bring me the most joy. So what can I do to focus on those roles and be the best version of myself? But time blocking has been something that has worked for me and making sure everyone in my world is aware of what I'm trying to focus on at that time.
Elizabeth Stein 42:15
So are you super diligent about putting every single thing that you do in the day in your calendar?
Dana Spaulding 42:21
Every single thing?
Elizabeth Stein 42:23
Not everything, but are you putting your workout in? Are you putting in, here's my time with my kids?
Dana Spaulding 42:29
Family time is on the calendar, it says family time and my team has access to it. So they know when it's family time. Unless things are so private, I wouldn't want to share. But things like kids' doctor's appointments, they happen. I'm their mom, I'm gonna bring them. So, if it’s an 18-month appointment, it's on my calendar on a Friday. That's what I'll be doing at that time. I won't be taking calls while I'm holding him. And the doctors checking him. I also have been prioritizing more of the self-care, like the workouts and the other things like that. And those are on my calendar. I've shared with my team, that I'm going to try so hard to commit to once-a-week personal trainer sessions or Friday afternoons. That's my self-care moment, and encourage them throughout the week to find those moments for them. Because for me, it's been so helpful.
Elizabeth Stein 43:23
I also love that you mentioned the other day about meditating and having your daughter come and do that too, which was like the cutest thing. So I think would love to touch on that because I think it's such great advice. And you're setting such a wonderful example for them.
Dana Spaulding 43:40
Oh, thank you. I love talking about our morning and nighttime routines. And my morning routine and nighttime routine, I've gotten strict about trying to build them out and keep them sacred. In the morning, I try hard to wake up early before they wake up to hydrate, meditate, and stretch.
Elizabeth Stein 43:59
What do you hydrate with? Just water or something?
Dana Spaulding 44:03
I've been adding… are you an Element lover?
Elizabeth Stein 44:07
I'm obsessed. With Ice specifically.
Dana Spaulding 44:11
Ice and I have the big leader glass bottle. Yeah, exactly. I also am a big fan of water and lemon. I try hard to hydrate as much as I can. There's not a specific amount that I think I need in the morning. I just drink as much as I can. Then I try to meditate just for a few minutes. And within that, have a gratitude practice and try to incorporate a little bit of manifesting as well. And I try to do all of that and stretch and move my body a bit before Maelyn wakes up. But I'm also trying hard as I shared with you to have grace and flexibility and recognize that I'm setting a good example. And rather than being like, oh, she's stepping into my moment if she wakes up early and comes down or trying to encourage the quiet play in her room. But if she doesn't, and she's been coming, I realized that she now likes it so much, so she's excited to come down. I was stretching one morning, and she started saying, “Mom, Mom, Mom, can we meditate now? Can we meditate now? She thinks about it as we do five deep breaths together, and she sits with me in her little crisscross applesauce and puts her hands on her lap. It's pretty wonderful. Gus has captured a few moments that I've shared on social because I try hard to have a mindset that this isn't quite me time right now. Because she'll interrupt and she'll say things. But at the same time, what an amazing example to show how I'm taking care of myself in the morning. And I am loving that. She's seeing that. She sees that we stretch. Call it moving our body, whatever we're doing, sometimes it's literally like yoga. Sometimes it's peloton and she's like, “You're moving your body today, when are we going to meditate?” So, it's really cute. I try hard to do those three things hydrating, meditating, and moving my body. Sometimes it's before she wakes up. And if not, that's okay. It's a great example.
Elizabeth Stein 46:15
What are you doing manifesting-wise?
Dana Spaulding 46:18
I am trying hard to visualize some key goals that I have. The last trip that Gus and I went on, it was a good exercise for me. I've been wanting to build out a five-year vision board. So, I did that for the first time, like a lot of stuff that I've thought about often, but haven't put down in one format. So, I built out the five-year vision board. And then with that, I've been trying to identify specific goals within that and try to visualize them. I'm reading this great book now that's very actionable.
Elizabeth Stein 46:52
What’s the book?
Dana Spaulding 46:53
It's called Manifest: 7 Steps to Living Your Best Life. What I like is that it's very actionable and with the seven action steps, one of them is being clear on what your vision is, like what success looks like for you and not limiting yourself in that and identifying like, what your biggest dreams and goals in life and this manifesting, again, it's only a few minutes. So, the encouragement from the book is identifying pieces of that over time, visualizing it, and allowing yourself to feel how you would feel when those come to fruition. So, I'm working on it. It's newer for me. I'm by no means an expert, but I found it to be this wonderful way to get clear on my goals. And then really believe in them. A core piece of the book is losing the self-doubt and the fear behind any of the goals that you have, like, alas, not going to happen. And I probably shouldn't dream it I'd mentioned to you because I don't want to set myself up for feelings of failure or disappointment, and just trying to let some of that go and be free and embrace, these are the big picture things that I love and in life and believe it. So, I try my best to incorporate that after some gratitude practices in the morning.
Elizabeth Stein 48:32
I love that. I'm such a firm believer, as you know too. And in manifesting and putting those positive intentions out there, I think what you said about getting into this space, where you're trying to feel what it feels like when you have this thing is super powerful.
Dana Spaulding 48:53
I think so. And I've found that so far. As I've mentioned, some of the things that are already starting to come to life. And I think it's just sending out so much positive energy to the world. And it may come back in ways that are not exactly how you thought originally, but still incredible things that you're bringing to life. And then the idea of taking the actionable steps in your day-to-day to get to those goals and just being a lot more mindful of them in your day-to-day I think is important.
Elizabeth Stein 49:23
Well, I think everyone needs to pick up that book it sounds like, including myself. Alright, we're gonna move into some rapid-fire Q&A. If you could have a glass or a bottle of Wander+Ivy with anybody dead or alive, who would it be?
Dana Spaulding 49:41
I find this to be such a hard question because there are so many people that inspire me. I was thinking about the experience of who I want to sit down with, I'm just such a New York lover. I love all things New York. And recently I've gotten back and I've watched every single episode of Sex in the City. And with the revival, I feel like Sarah Jessica, just what a person to sit down with. I'm thinking like in a chic New York location, having a glass. How dreamy does that sound? So I think I’ll take her. There are so many, but I’ll take her.
Elizabeth Stein 50:13
Three things that you're currently loving.
Dana Spaulding 50:17
So one of them is that book. I've been loving the Manifest Book. Have you tried Henry Rose? I have been loving it. It's the non-toxic fragrance brand by Michelle Pfeiffer. I am a person who had the same scent for a decade. And I love that when people would hug me and say, oh, like, oh, I like the smell. And I love that. And then I had kids and the doctors were like, “Whoa. Kids’ skin, especially as newborns is hyper absorbent. You cannot have fragrance on them. Do you know how toxic that is?” And again, to your point of just not even thinking about it initially, with all of the things we put on inside our bodies, I just stopped wearing fragrance altogether. And it's been really fun hearing that she had this sample set that I highly recommend. It's a fun way to sample these new non-toxic scents and the name of the brand I'm pretty sure is her children's middle name. Her story is along those lines of when she had kids, she didn't want to expose them to all the toxins. And when you're holding them against you, you're exposing them to so much that's on your body and they're absorbing it all in a way. I love exploring. I love that. From a show standpoint, we just finished The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Have you watched that one?
Elizabeth Stein 51:42
No, I haven’t.
Dana Spaulding 51:43
We don't watch a lot of TV. So to be honest, we joke. I watch them in 5 to 20-minute increments because we don't watch a lot of TV. She is so smart. It's so witty, and she's just hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud. And I thought the writing was so good. And she just looked fiery, independent woman that I just loved watching. More and more characters like that on TV, the better. So yeah, those are some things I'm currently loving.
Elizabeth Stein 52:09
What do you want more of in your life?
Dana Spaulding 52:12
Probably self-care moments, such as personal training. I talked about being hyper-mindful of my time blocking which for a while, is family time and business. And I'm aware that that doesn't save me time. So I try my best, especially as a mom now, to carve out time and put it on my calendar for whether it's a massage or anything little and do it unapologetically, and getting a manicure, whatever that might be, but not having the guilt or apologies associated with it. So I'm trying my best to do more and more of that with the personal training session, which I have later today.
Elizabeth Stein 52:51
Nice time for you this Friday. Favorite words to live by.
Dana Spaulding 52:56
They go along the lines of, I have to take care of myself before taking care of others. I do feel that way. And I think it a lot, especially after I drop off the kids and I want to dive into work or dive into something for something else that's not necessarily taking care of me. I'm trying hard to always be mindful of taking care of myself and know again, unapologetically, that I am the best version of myself when I take care of myself and prioritize that so that I can show up as my best version.
Elizabeth Stein 53:30
A favorite book or podcast for growth.
Dana Spaulding 53:33
from a podcast perspective, other than yours, of course, I love Melissa Wood. I'm a big Melissa Wood fan. Whether it's her movements for sure, but her meditation, especially someone learning craft meditation for myself, and building that from a growth standpoint. And she also has some incredible female founders that she focuses on. So, I would say other female founders, whether it's how I built this or Melissa Wood, I get so much inspiration from. So, I would say she is one source where I find other inspiring female founders other than Purely Elizabeth.
Elizabeth Stein 54:15
Favorite Wander+Ivy moment.
Dana Spaulding 54:17
On this one, I find it to be a hard question. I think about a 48-hour period this year where we had this big event. It was amazing. We had the opportunity to share wines with Pink. And funny enough, I met Pink 20 years ago. I was this little girl at a concert and I got to go backstage. So at this moment, Wander+Ivy was featured at this event where she was, I got to show her this video of us 20 years ago. What was amazing was she took the time of day and was like holy moly. What an amazing brand. It's so exciting and reaffirming when anybody says that, but when someone of her caliber, any celebrity of that caliber stops, tells you all about why this is incredible. And then also allows me to say, “Can I show you something?” I showed it to her. And she leaned over to me. And all this is fun, it's on video, and was like, “Look, what we've done in the last 20 years.” It was just a cool moment. And that was in this period where there was a late-night event. I went, I was exhausted, and the next morning had to take an early flight home, to get home for the kids. And Gus was flying out, we’re missing each other. It was a crazy “work-life” balance that day. And that morning, we were also featured on The Today Show, which at that point was our largest national broadcast opportunity. And I got on a plane, which was so turbulent, and I was so tired. And I landed and just wasn't feeling great. I had two conversations with my husband and dad, and especially my dad was an entrepreneur, came from nothing, and built something. Hearing him say to me, “What a moment. What a couple of days you've had, take it in.” And I found myself feeling emotional because I was so tired. I was feeling a little sick because I got motion sick. And he was just like, “Take it in. How amazing.” And it was a little bit full circle with him. And then also having similar conversations with Gus, who's been there with me from the beginning. And those big moments, being able to sit and say it's challenging. It's really hard but, what a moment. That is an example of some of the big stuff that we've gone through and having those moments with family is super special.
Elizabeth Stein 56:42
Yeah, that's so special and such a great reminder to stop, realize and enjoy. And last question, what is your number one non-negotiable to thrive on your wellness journey?
Dana Spaulding 56:59
Sleep. I know it's important to you. Sleep is number one for me.
Elizabeth Stein 57:06
Anything that you do that helps you sleep? Or are you a good sleeper?
Dana Spaulding 57:10
No, I would not say I'm a good sleeper. Postpartum, I found it hard to admit that I was having a lot of sleep anxiety. I think it's something that of the many things, women find it hard to admit that they're challenged with. That was something I've shared with friends and gone through help with like, how do I pull that in and for me, what I do to help release the sleep anxiety around not getting enough sleep, especially in the early days of the kids being so young, was building out a really strong nighttime routine. I know you and I have talked about this. But for me, I was working too late. I was thinking I could go to bed right after working up until that moment. So, I'm mindful of not having any screens or working hours before bedtime. Gus is in the house, and thankfully he joins me. He has all the lights on, I'm turning all the lights down. I'm a big believer, and then he and I catch up, putting my legs up the wall, taking deep breaths, like all the health benefits of that I'm a big believer in. And then when I lay down, I feel as if so many people have said this recently, but going to bed and rather than focusing on anything that you could have done better, only saying to yourself what made today great. I do that every single night. I've heard people be like, and then you fall asleep midday. You don't get to the end of your day if you are thinking about all the little things that made your day great. I've been a lot better about sticking to those practices and getting a really solid night's sleep. That for sure makes me the best version of myself.
Elizabeth Stein 58:54
Sleep is number one. And that's a great tip for everybody to try. In closing, where can everybody find you, and what's next?
Dana Spaulding 59:02
You can find us at wanderandivy.com. And also follow us at wanderandivy on Instagram. What's next? I'm just really excited to scale the brand. We have some exciting innovations in the pipeline, the bubbles that are coming early next year. And that's a big innovation for us, especially with our patented bio. So really trying to continue to stay the leader in this space in premium organic, innovative alternative packaging wine of really doing everything we can to stay the leader and continuing to scale across the country because I think in many ways, we're just starting to scratch the surface.
Elizabeth Stein 59:41
Absolutely. Dana, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. This is so much fun to catch up.
Dana Spaulding 59:46
Thank you so much for having me. This is awesome.
Elizabeth Stein 59:51
Bye. Thanks so much for joining me on Live Purely with Elizabeth. I hope you feel inspired to thrive on your wellness journey. If you enjoyed today's episode, don't forget to rate, subscribe, and review. You can follow us on Instagram @purely_elizabeth to catch up on all the latest. See you next Wednesday on the podcast.