Monday, February 20, 2012

Spotlight on Mommy -- Cheryl Durzy, Creator of MommyJuice Wines

What mom doesn't want to sit down at the end of a crazy day, kick her shoes off, and sip on a nice glass (or two) of wine?  With two children under the age of 2 at home, I am finding myself looking forward to these precious few minutes, before I have to tidy up the house, do laundry and get everything ready, just to do it all again the next day.  And, if it is before 1 AM, when I finish all the daily chores, I will sit back down, pick up a good book, and have one final glass of wine before bed.  Like they say, "A Glass of wine a day, keeps the doctor away" --- well, they don't say that, but I do. :-)

So, when I found that there was a mom entrepreneur in CA who was making her own wine, under the label MommyJuice Wines, I knew I had to share her story with you, as well as do a product review (stay tuned Friday for this and a giveaway).  Below is my interview with Cheryl Durzy, the creator and owner of MommyJuice Wines.  Please enjoy, and make sure to head back here on Friday for my detailed review of the red and white MommyJuice wines she sent me to sample, as well as enter for a chance to win some for yourself.

Name:  Cheryl Durzy
Company Name/Product/Service: MommyJuice Wines
Company Location: San Martin, CA
Company Website:
Facebook URL:
Twitter Handle: @mommyjuicewines
Age of Company: 2.5 years
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: "Destiny is something we've invented because we can't stand the fact that everything that happens is accidental."
Favorite Book: Too many to name and changes frequently. These days, it’s my iPad.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.  

I am late-ish 30’s, from the Bay Area in Northern California. I went to the University of San Diego with a couple of stints abroad in London and the South of France. Upon graduation, I moved to San Francisco for nearly 8 years and worked at a high-tech public relations agency. I met my husband there…moved to the South Bay to raise the family and that’s where I am today. 

I have two kids. My son is 8 and my daughter is 4 (5 in April). When I am not working for the family wine business or hanging out with my family, I enjoy working out (doing my first triathlon this Spring), yoga/pilates/bar classes, cooking and eating, drinking wine with my friends, skiing, reading and watching good TV with the husband (current favorites are Dexter, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, The Walking Dead, Mad Men) when the kids are finally in bed and the house is in a semi-normal state of cleanliness.    

Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about? 

I have been working for my family’s winery (Clos LaChance, for nearly 14 years now. I love to drink wine and do so on a regular basis (in moderation of course). My kids developed the lovely habit of pointing at wine glasses and yelling “That’s Mommy’s Juice.” It was especially embarrassing in crowded restaurants. However, it did inspire me to create a label and start selling wine under the MommyJuice brand. 

My goal with MommyJuice is to provide a quality wine for a great price point. And to make wine FUN!  I also hope to provide a bit of sanity to all those moms out there that are like me—doing a million things at once. I hope that at the end of a busy day, Moms are sitting back, drinking a glass of MommyJuice and getting a bit of comfort knowing that there are moms all around the world going through the same stuff. And surviving.

What is a typical work day like? 

Well I try to work out in the mornings (early, way too early) so I get up to exercise. I always check my ipad or phone for anything that came in overnight that I need to respond to (especially with my east coast distributors or international customers). Come home and take a quick shower. Get the kids up, dressed and breakfast. Make lunches. One kid leaves for one school (typically brought by my husband) and them I bring my son to school (next year they are both in the same school!  Yee-haw!). Then I come home, clean up from breakfast, get myself ready for work and head out the door. Its about half an hour drive to the office, no traffic thankfully. Often checking my email at stoplights (trying to break this habit, I promise). 

Once I get here every day is different. Lots of communicating with distributors and customers. Interfacing on the social media sites. Lots of writing and implementation of plans, budgets etc. Developing sales materials and brochures. I also manage the brand for Clos LaChance, The Vegan Vine and Wicked Good Wines. We have done a lot of distributor realignment and sales force changes the last 6 months, so I have really been focusing on that stuff lately. I sit on a couple of boards as well (President of the Board for the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association and Board Member for Free the Grapes and the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance) so I usually interface with someone about those issues at least once a day.

What has been a struggle while starting up your company?  

The wine industry is really, really challenging. Getting the right distributors to build the brand, pay us and help sell the wines is literally impossible. All wine needs to be sold to accounts via distributors. 

Distributors have been consolidating while the number of wineries and brands is increasing faster than ever. So there is a real problem getting distributors to pay attention to your brand. You basically have to pay them to do it. Or you can go with a smaller distributor…and take a gamble of whether or not they pay you. 

I have found that people either LOVE the idea of MommyJuice (usually moms, husbands and parents of such moms too) or HATE it (most people that are not moms). It’s a little controversial, which has been fun and a little challenging as well.

What did you do in your past work life? 

High tech PR, but that was so long ago. Here’s kind of an interesting article about my old company that I just came across today. I was what they called an “Alexander-ite” taking notes at conferences and getting the press to pay attention to my client. I was 22-25 years old. A baby.

What have been some of your major successes?  

Getting 30 plus distributors in less than a year. Getting MommyJuice into Northern California Target stores. Amazing PR—an AP story last Mother’s Day, People Magazine and the Today Show (I take credit for it because I hired a friend—a fellow mom-preneur—to help me with it. Holly Nuss @momforwine…but she did the leg work).  

What have been some of your major challenges? 

Dealing with a trademark challenge and lawsuit (since settled). Dealing with people that just don’t get the brand or the idea that women are buying most of the wine these days. Dealing with people that think I am the devil for daring to say that moms should be allowed to drink wine.  

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going? 

MommyJuice!  Ha, seriously though I so enjoy going home and pouring a glass of wine to drink while I am preparing dinner for my family. My husband sits down to chat with me while I am cooking and the kids are running around telling us about their day, going in and out of the house/playroom and just sitting back and enjoying the chaos of what is really important to me. Wine is a part of that… 

What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family? 

There is no secret….I am barely hanging on. I forget stuff all the time and my house is not always spotlessly clean. But I just learn to embrace the chaos and try and enjoy each moment. 

What is next for your business? 

Now that I have distribution for the wines, my next challenge is getting the stores to carry them….so that people can buy them. It’s a huge challenge because the competition is insane. I am a tiny little winery and this industry is dominated by large companies that make millions of cases. I encourage all your readers to learn more about the small business and family-owned wineries and try to buy only those wines to help them out. Small, family owned wineries are on their way out because of these industry shifts. It would be a shame if that was the way of the future. There are many, many wines with decent (under $10, yes there are!) pricepoints that are made by family-owned wineries. Seek them out and tell everyone you know!

Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business? 

Make sure you do your research, because people are “sue” happy these days looking for a quick buck. Make sure you have an attorney that is a friend. Utilize your resources (friends and family) to help promote your business. Invest in a professional looking web site. Its your brand, storefront, image all in one. And try and have fun with whatever you are doing. Because if its taking you away from your family and if you are not having fun…then its not worth it. Also, be nice and fair to everyone. It’s a small world and what comes around goes around.

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