Betsy Hendershot is a mom of two breaking into the world of boxed wine. The Tusla, Oklahoma-based entrepreneur runs Downward Dog Wine, a boxed wine made from grapes grown in the USA. Hendershot understands that there are many advantages to buying boxed wine – it’s kinder to the environment, it lasts longer after being opened and it’s an affordable option. By offering single varietal options and custom blends, Hendershot hopes her delicious boxed wine will help break down some preconceived notions and bring more wine lovers and novices alike to appreciate the product. Today she’s working to adapt to changing costs of goods and availability of wine itself, all while balancing motherhood and running a full time business.
Hendershot’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
The fastest growing segment in the retail wine industry is the bag-in-box packaged wine products, and the leading brands are owned by large, industry leading corporations. Downward Dog Wine is a female owned proprietary brand tackling barriers for independently owned labels to find shelf space in an already limited boxed wine industry. Bag in box wines are increasing in popularity for many reasons including convenience, affordability, the ability to keep wine fresh longer leading to less waste, as well as environmental benefits. While there are many options when it comes to traditionally bottled wine, the options in the bag in box segment are very limited. Downward Dog Wine hopes to change that, one box at a time.
How do you define success?
For me success means achieving anything that is in line with your vision and your purpose. Success can mean one step forward towards achieving a goal, or it can mean taking ten steps back to have a better view of your path. Success is intentional, ever evolving and often closer than we think.
Tell us about your biggest success to date
My biggest success with Downward Dog Wine has been the alignment with distribution partners who share both my vision for this brand, and the determination to grow it in the marketplace.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
My top challenges have mostly been associated with the increases costs of goods as well as the availability of wine. The consumer is accustomed to purchasing boxed wine at value prices because traditionally there is less expense going into the packaging. To meet my goal of providing quality wine in this non-traditional format means that I not only pay more for the wine that goes into the bag and box, but I also pay increased costs of goods because of low purchasing power (due to the size of my company) coupled with the recent price increases of goods used industry wide. The only way I can address this is to increase my wholesale price and take a strong stance behind my brand.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
I’m a mother of two, and want to be actively involved in the lives of my children. This makes long work hours and traveling for business difficult. I try to manage my time between the two the best that I can.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Go with your gut, but listen to your financial statements and let them be a good indicator of “how it’s going” even if it’s not what you want to see or hear. Make changes as soon as they need to be made – tackle obstacles mindfully, but tackle them head on.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
By stepping back. By going on a long run or picking up the book I’ve been meaning to read. By listening instead of talking.
Who is your most important role model?
I don’t have one particular role model, I never have. I do my best to surround myself with people that have qualities that I strive to align with: confident, kind, honest, assertive, adventurous, and reliable amongst other things. I also tend to surround myself with people that enjoy wine, are active, are good parents and generally good hearted people.