Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Series: Jessica Locke

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Series

Jessica Locke

Entrepreneurial Spirits are driven…

Listen to Jessica Locke of Wines 4 Cures and you will know she is a driven individual. Why? When asked what Entrepreneurial Spirit means to her, Jessica immediately said “Wines 4 Cures”. She works with creating quality wines at a fair price…but so much more. “We have a goal of raising awareness and funds for our partner charities.”

Why this business? “Our niece Kyleigh Locke has Cystic Fibrosis. We're all actively trying to help raise funds to find a cure. Personally, we felt our financial impact was not enough, and we wanted to do more. So my husband, who is a former executive of a large wine distributor, was able to get in touch with people in the wine industry, pitched the idea, and get some quality industry partners to rally behind the mission.

We have been blessed in our lives and having Kyleigh in our lives is one of our greatest blessings. She has inspired us to do more. We want our brands to make people aware of how simple giving back can be. This type of giving is supplemental to the donations people already give. We know there is tremendous need and hundreds of great causes. Our foundation partners hit home for us and we wanted to make an impact to them specifically. So folks who may not give to charities like Make a Wish directly but enjoy wine, can now give to Make a Wish indirectly, and hopefully in the near future also give to them directly.”

Their business is organic in nature, according to Jessica. “Not just the grapes. We need the word of mouth and organic growth of fans who feel compelled to help tell our story. Everyone who drinks our wine, we hope will become a huge advocate for the project. Good wines and Good Causes. We hope that is a story people like to tell others.”

There’s that passion again…

This time they are doing for others, helping others. “As I said before, we are very blessed. It's such a wonderful thing to give back. Our daughters mean the world to us and this has been a great life lesson for them as well. We try to make a difference every day. One more day....We are lucky enough to get one, so we use it to try to help and make an impact.”

After all they are doing this for their kids and their niece.

This business is no different than others and is not without its risks. But they do not dwell on the risks. “This company is about doing good. We have love and support on our side. There have several unpleasant bumps we did not expect, some difficult challenges, but we know we have to do this. We are more afraid of doing nothing. We did have to use our own money and it's not like we had a ton a free time. With kids and another business already running, we had to figure out how to balance things to not hurt an existing business and the employees there who also depend on that company, as well as make sure we kept our own lives in balance. But our vision is very strong and there are so many people willing to help the mission and keep us on track as well as assist where ever they can. We really could not do it without the support of a great supporting cast that grows all the time.”

And advice to those who want to start a business? “We learn as we go, so every mistake we make is an opportunity to learn and grow. Some very successful wine industry veterans told us there would be four or five things we cannot anticipate that will make getting the initial product to market. Timing is very important in the wine business and some things are simply out of our control. But all in all, I think we managed pretty well and would not want "do overs" because several other things could have gone wrong. We'll take what we have been dealt since at least we survived them.”

And how is success defined to Jessica? “As long as what we are doing makes us happy, we feel successful. And, by being in the wine industry and helping some incredible foundations, we are extremely happy.” That doesn’t mean they have found success in all aspects of the business, though.

“We have found success in the happiness aspects - yes. But the ultimate success is finding a cure for Cystic Fibrosis, Parkinson's, and Breast Cancer, as well as helping the granting of wishes to children with life threatening illness or helping to provide housing for wounded warriors. So, success sort of implies we are done. And we are nowhere near done!” And they have had some experts along the way help. In some aspects they are now experts themselves…” We have a lot to learn and it's fun to learn from our expert friends. So, maybe we are experts at finding the right expert in one of the dozens of components required to make quality wine at affordable prices as well as get them to market.”

One would assume profit plays an important part in this business…giving to charities can only happen with profits. “We want to give our charities as much money as we can. As far as our personal benefit, only enough to keep the business going. Everyone else in the chain needs to be profitable to be sustainable. So, we built this such that the farmers, distributors, and retailers all make a good margin in order to rally behind this mission. This is truly a win-win-wine.” That’s not a typo…she means that.

Jessica knows what an entrepreneur is about. “Be passionate and stay positive. Be prepared for doing work - nothing comes easy. You may get more no's (or not right now) than yes, but you just have to keep going! And to get a "win" every day you can feel good about. Those wins don't have to be World Series wins, but it's a grind and the everyday wins are what help you get to the big game.”

"Since we have the mission and vision so engrained in our daily lives already, I believe that's the only way this new company going…by an entrepreneurial spirit. I think we could so this inside a large wine producer, but it feels much better to do this on our own for now.”

Definitely…there is an Entrepreneurial Spirit with Jessica. You can feel it.

Learn more about Jessica and Wines 4 Cures at or

This series of articles was commissioned by Upward Trend and written by Wendy VanHatten, a nationally published author, editor, and writing coach.

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