Editor’s Note: Boyd Cru Wines has been named to The Story Exchange’s 2023 Holiday Gift Guide.
Jon’ll Boyd’s journey to opening her winery, Boyd Cru Wines, began when she observed the overall lack of diversity in the wine industry. Less than 1% of wineries are owned by people of color. Boyd knew she wanted to build a legacy for her family while also creating an economic ecosystem that supports minority-owned agricultural businesses. After two years of research and development, Boyd and her husband launched in April 2023 – and in the process, became the first family-owned, federally-permitted and state-licensed winery in Maryland, as well as one of only 100 Black-owned wineries in the United States. This entrepreneur and CEO is proud to effect change within the wine world by introducing “a nontraditional approach to a traditional industry.”
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
We are making wine using grapes that are sourced locally in Maryland. We are taking the pretentiousness out of wine and making it accessible to underrepresented communities. We also focus on making 90% blends from grapes that are not always as familiar, utilizing hybrid grapes that grow well in our state. In addition, we provide educational wine experiences that have a community focus.
We believe in fostering connection and establishing economic wealth by showing other families how to build a legacy. And, we believe you can create what you like, instead of being told what to like.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
Finding balance. I have managed to begin a career in a new industry while still nurturing quality time with my family – in particular, my husband and our two boys. I’ve learned how to bring these parts of my life together, instead of having them compartmentalized. I also hold space for myself, which allows me to succeed personally and professionally. As the old saying goes: When your cup is empty, you have nothing left to give to others.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Distribution and improving access to our wines. We currently do not have a tasting room, like most wineries, but we do offer the option of purchasing our wines online. However, this sometimes becomes a deterrent if people want to taste the wine first or avoid the added cost of shipping fees. We have been able to address this by partnering with community organizations, nonprofits and other small businesses to host wine experiences throughout the state. We are also fundraising and scouting locations for a tasting room, which will also serve as a community marketplace, in 2024.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Do your homework and lay the groundwork before implementation. We took a full two years, which gave us time to conduct research via surveys and conversations – which also helped us build relationships. Taking that time saved us from making costly mistakes – and kept us from throwing money at things without it thinking.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
Motivation can come and go, so it’s important to be committed to consistency – especially in habits and behaviors that will help you win when you don’t feel up to it. My morning routine consists of getting up, working out, meditating and journaling. These acts create space for me to prepare myself for the day, so that I meet the day with intention, instead of letting the day run me.
What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days?
“The Battle Is Not Yours” by Yolanda Adams.
Who is your most important role model?
My mother. I come from three generations of female entrepreneurs and have learned so much from each of them about the meaning of courage, grit and tenacity. ◼