By: Keidra Ponder
We sat down with business owner Sarah Sanford of Fine Wine Enterprises at one of her bartending gigs. We were able to get an interview in, in between Sarah making drinks and assisting patrons at Sidiq’s Bistro. She had such a beautiful smile while her eyes gleamed of joy as she spoke of Fine Wine Enterprises. It’s evident she has crafted the art of customer service and she puts love into her work. Continue reading as we tell Sarah’s story.
What is your hometown? Give us some background on you as an individual.
I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. I moved to Atlanta right after Highschool on a partial academic scholarship. I started to meet different people get invited to different parties. I wasn’t much of a drinker but I made good cocktails. So instead of bringing dishes to the cook-out, I was the one who would bring the drinks.
Where did you receive your education?
I went to Life University in Lowell, Ga. then I later transferred to Kennesaw State University. I was forced to leave school due to my appendix rupturing. I went back home to New York to heal and when I returned I started my company and a fulltime job with Delta Airlines. So college yes, a degree no, but I studied Psychology.
What material did you study to gain knowledge of your craft?
My mom used to host a lot of parties back when Mike Tyson was fighting. We used to have card parties, boxing, and Superbowl parties. She used to make punch and that’s where I learned to create different cocktails. I crafted her style and I took over.
When and where did you start your company?
I started my company in 2015 here in Atlanta, Ga. I took my time and did my homework before I went to work. I didn’t rush out into corporate America or to a bar. I wanted to create my own lane and start my company. Instead of spending money going out to eat and buying clothes I saved my money. I was working for Delta Airlines at the time, little by little every paycheck, even if it was just five dollars I would save something. I didn’t take out a loan to start my business, I planned for it.
What is the vision behind your cocktails?
I make my cocktails with the working people in mind who don’t have time to go to the store after work every day. The ones who want something prepackaged at home. I don’t make them super strong for the quote-unquote alcoholic, but they are a nice wine down beverage after a long day. I make drinks for the people who like the feeling of alcohol but not so much the taste.
What are some of the struggles you have had to overcome in the food and beverage industry?
I didn’t want my drink to fall by the waste side in liquor stores as just another wine cooler. I’m not too keen on distribution, I take pride in custom beverages and services. Another obstacle is my own people of color. Everyone wants to sample and get a deal, no one wants to pay for my product. Once they do purchase a drink they are satisfied customers, I’ve never had someone bring back a drink they didn’t like. Getting people to happily spend money on my beverages as they would a retail product at times becomes a hassle.
What are some of Fine Wine Enterprises highlighted achievements?
Well, I was very impressed, my first time as a vendor at Atlanta Indie Market. I completely sold out with a few hours left to vend. The crowd was so impressed, now they look for me at the Indie Mart. I have bartended events for Killer Mike, Faith Evans, The Dungeon Family, Big Boi and many more.
What is the current status of Fine Wine Enterprises? Any upcoming events?
We are currently hosting pop up shops at barbershops, salons, tattoo parlors, it doesn’t matter. Where ever you’re hosting an event and need drinks I’m there. I plan on being at the Atlanta Indie Market this Fall. I’m always at Sadiq’s Bistro 3762 Campbellton Rd. SW Atlanta, Ga 30331 6 days a week bartending, so you can always get a drink from the pretty brown Queen behind the bar.
What direction are you taking Fine Wine Enterprises in the future?
I would like for Fine Wine Enterprises to be a full-service event planning service where we would handle all your party needs. All you would have to tell me is the day of the event and your theme, I will be able to find the venue, the catering, the bartender and of course my drinks. I would like to also have a sprinter van to stay mobile and venture out to different events. I would like to provide the full mobile party experience where you come aboard and wine down.
What are some unknown facts about your company?
Hmmm, let me think…… Maybe the fact that I’m really not a drinker, the only time I drink is when I’m drinking my own drinks. I don’t know if it’s a fun fact, but it’s a fact I have Crohn’s disease. It hasn’t stopped me from doing anything, I’m sick every now and again, but I can’t let sickness stop me from doing anything. I’ve had it since I was 14 and I’m 35 now and I’m still getting to it. And I’m a saver, I save all my change and its usually a couple hundred dollars at the end of the year. Being a business owner is not cheap!
Who are some of your influences in the business and in life?
My Dad, he is an ex NFL player, he played for ten years. I am the oldest of three girls, he has no sons so I chose my college major because of our connection. My father is very hands-on when it comes to my events, he is always supportive. He doesn’t drink but he will sit at the bar and have a cranberry juice with me. Definitely, Oprah, I admire women who are in business. Also Killer Mike’s wife, Shay Bigga, she’s a true businesswoman!
Do you have any words of wisdom or encouragement for our readers?
Your face card is more important than your name, that’s where your support comes from. When you have a plan in motion you also have to learn how to save money. A business is not going to take off in the first 3-5 years typically, so you have to plan for those occurrences. But all in all the sky’s the limit, there are no ceilings!
Do you have any networking partners you want to mention?
I would like to thank my silent business partner for believing in me and trusting my vision. I would like to thank Killer Mike and his wife Shay, they’ve allowed me to do events at their barbershop, he respects the hustle. He told me, “When you get your business together call me.” that meant I’ll help you but you have to help yourself first and I definitely appreciate that. Anyone who has booked Fine Wine Enterprise for an event, I thank you. To all my friends and family at Delta Airlines who continuously buys my product, I thank you.
If you are interested in booking Fine Wine Enterprises for your event or following the movement see the links below;
Facebook – @FineWineEnt
Instagram – @finewine_enterprises
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org