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Ep 227 Transcript


Alright ladies, welcome to this episode of The joyful scaling podcast. And today, I’m chatting with a young woman with a heart for Jesus, and she’s an entrepreneur who lost her business. During the pandemic, you’re gonna love her story. I met her through being a part of what’s called the advanced women’s expert network, which is the premier network for successful entrepreneurial women who want to really build strategic business relationships. So I’m going to pop in the show notes the link, so that you can find out more about that I highly recommend it because the ladies inside are givers. They’re committed to making an impact through their business. Their genuine and lasting relationships. Like I have every expectation that one day Kathleen and I in the not too distant future even are going to meet. So I’m inside the advances where I met this beautiful woman I’m introducing you to today. Her name is Cassie Leah her wall. She is a certified sommelier, wine expert and blogger. She’s the owner of by the stem tastings where she provides corporate virtual wine tastings. How fun is that? And her clientele includes the likes of Google, Snapchat and Oracle. Okay, she also has a wine subscription service called by the stem wine club. And she has her own private label Cassia wine. Her passion is to make wine fun and less intimidating while bringing people together. She’s been featured in Oprah daily HuffPost, the LA Times and various wine industry publications. Let’s welcome Kassala to the show.



Thank you so much. I’m so excited.



Well, we had so much fun during that speed networking event. And you know, we met so many wonderful women doing business with a heart of service. And so as I was kind of doing my due diligence for this interview, I so appreciated the first sentence on your wine sales page, where you share I created this wine label to spread the message of love, joy and hope. I just love that. So can we start today sharing your backstory? Like where did this love for wine come in, you know in come from and what inspired you to launch your business in the middle of a pandemic?



Sure, thank you. Okay, so let’s see, where do I start? So I was born and raised in Michigan, and my dad actually grew up on a vineyard in Michigan and St. Joseph. And so most of the grapes were sold for table grapes or Welch’s grape juice, but some of it was sold to wineries. And actually, some of it was sold to a winery that used that their wine was served at the White House. Fun fact, no, wine has always been kind of part of my life. My dad was always like fermenting different fruits in the basement. And we had concord grapes growing in our back patio. And I always enjoyed it. But more you know, and as I was in first feeder wines and fruit wines and things like that, and then I got married and moved to Kansas City. And my husband and I got a job in Kansas City. So we moved there. And I met a girlfriend who was just really into wine and you know, serious red wines that decanters and all this stuff. This is so cool. And I really just loved learning about wine. And it was so fascinating. The more I learned, I was like, Oh my gosh, there’s more to learn. Right, so, um, I found this cute little local wine shop called Buckley’s wine market, in Overland Park, Kansas, and I was there all the time. Like they were always having tastings and classes and events, and I was I just wanted to be at them all. And so um, I was got to the point where they literally asked me if I wanted to work there because it was there so often. And I was showing customers around the store. And so I started working more you work there. Yeah, I like knew all the ones they had in stock. I knew where they kept them all like, oh, that’s, that’s so good. I know. Um, but my degree is actually in health care. So I worked 10 years as an occupational therapy assistant. And so then I started working at the night shop, or at the wine shop nights and weekends. And so I just fell in love. I remember I found this book, the wine folly book, and it has like one page dedicated to each type of wine. And I was just like, I was fascinated. I would tend to pages. Oh my gosh, I got to try this wine and I find it and find a trick about it. I drink it and learn about it. And, and so yeah, so I basically I signed up for the sommelier courses through the quartermaster symbol, yeah, I signed up for level one, and started meeting some of the reps and really, you know, pursuing it. And then my husband got a job with SpaceX here in LA and so we moved to California and now we’ve been here five years. And I’ve worked in healthcare up until literally 2020 Even here in LA. But I started you know, pursuing wine getting connected with people who love wine, and I actually started working for this company called wine shop at home which is basically Tupperware parties but for wine. And so I started doing that going to people’s houses and um, you know, teaching them about wine while continuing my education and wine. And then I kind of broke off started my own business. Doing that where I would, you know, bring my own wines. Um, and then my Instagram, I started my Instagram to promote this in home wine tasting kind of thing. And the Instagram just kind of really took off. I mean, a lot of people really like wine and a lot of people started following me on my instagram. And so I remember when I hit 1000 followers, the Sangria company reached out to me and was like, we’d love to send you some Sangria for a post. And I was like, why that’s so cool. So now it’s so funny, because now it’s like my apartments overflowing with wine. And I literally, I’m like, Wow, I can’t receive any more samples right now. Um, but yeah, so I, you know, my Instagram is growing, brands started sending me samples, and then this brand called poketo wines. And the winemaker say sorry, he’s Mexican, based out of Mexico, and he makes fruit from Sonoma and wines from Mexico. And anyway, so he wanted to send me samples. And he was like, gosh, I’m so busy. I just really need to hire a salesperson. And so being me, I’m like, Oh, my gosh, I could do that. You know, so I always say yes. So I started selling his wine, just at my events. And, you know, like the in home tastings and events, and then the pandemic hit, and I remember it so clearly. Because that Saturday, I was at a huge wine event in Beverly Hills, James suckling big Italian Wine Fest, tasting tons of wines, you know, meeting Italians, nice to meet you, you know, putting out wine in front of people, like, and I remember being like, should I go to this? Is this, like, is this a serious thing? And my husband’s like, oh, no, I’ll just use hand sanitizer, you’ll be fine.



And so I went to that. And then Monday, I went to my job and health care. And I was like, I think I should wear a mask. I was at this huge event, you know? And they’re like, no, no, it’s fine. And then that Tuesday was St. Patrick’s Day, and everyone was talking about how, um, you know, they’re sad, they can go out for St. Patrick’s Day. So I hosted a virtual happy hour. And I was like, let’s just come on, bring a glass of wine dress up for St. Patrick’s Day, let’s go on Zoom and do a happy hour. And, um, that happy hour literally changed my life. Because I, the I actually got featured in Huffington Post, we’re having like, the best virtual happy hour from that event, and I started making it a weekly thing. And my friends were texting me like, oh, my gosh, I’m running out of wine. What do I do? Because like, at the beginning of the pandemic, we were afraid to even go to the store, right? Like, I remember, it would take a paper towel to like, get my mail, and I wouldn’t touch it for three days. It was seriously scary. Yeah. And so I was like, Oh, my gosh, well, I sell prohibited wines, I can send you some of that. And so I was like, You know what, we can log on to zoom. And I’ll even guide you through a little tasting. So we did that. And a friend of a friend, she was in sales for Google, he her husband, now husband is in sales for Snapchat, and they just love the virtual event. They were like, can you create a flyer and we’ll send it around our you know, our company. And I think everyone would love this idea. And so I like called up say sound as Do you think we can make like three packs, and I can ship them all over the country. And we can start doing these virtual tastings with your wine. So I was like book solid, at the beginning of the pandemic, doing that to the point where say, so I was like, I hate to break it to you, but I don’t have any more wine.



Sorry, I’m telling a very long version. That’s okay. So then, my next amazing business partner, Bob had reached out to me on LinkedIn, and was like, I’m your neighbor, I think we should get connected. I work in the wine industry. And I’m like, okay, you know, let’s let’s meet. And so it turns out, he has this huge distribution company and this amazing portfolio of like small producers and sustainably farmed wines and grapes and producers that you’re not going to find in the stores and just really awesome. And so I started doing his wines for my virtuals. And then I long story short, I started my wine club through his portfolio as well, which was actually his idea. But yeah, and then also through the pandemic has Leo wine was born too, because I was studying at the Napa Valley Wine Academy, and I was going up there for my exams. And I went up there for an exam. And I met up with se Sauer and his friend, Peter, and Peter actually has his own label called Kukeri wines. And we were at his custom crush facility tasting some of the wines and I tasted the Rosae. And I was like, This is honestly one of the best roses I’ve ever had. Like it’s just perfect. The flavor profiles, amazing structures, perfect. The colors perfect, like the aromas. I just loved it and he was like, Well, I actually have a few extra barrels if you want. And I was like, give me a couple of fun So yeah, I like called my friend Brooke that night and he’s like, Brooke, I need a wine label. She’s like a graphic designer of like, for fun. And she designed my beautiful label. And we, I mean, we, yeah, we made it happen.



Wow, that is so good. Um, you know, I’m looking at myself in the mirror and I’m thinking I have lipstick on my teeth. I’m notorious for lipstick on my teeth. Okay, wait, I want to I want to break down some of that goodness that you just poured out to us. Okay, first thing. I love how one thing you said. It’s kind of like walking a fine line. You said, Look, I said yes. And then you you said I say yes to everything. There comes a point when we can’t say yes, but I but I, in my own experience, know that when you’re first getting started, and you have opportunities, you should say yes. So right there tells me you’re going far. I mean, this might be you’ve come you’ve done a lot. But just your willingness to meet people to be proactive in reaching out to people, and also to being receptive to opportunities assist brava sister, that is really, really great much Oh, so I just want to go to get in the mind, I want to get into your mind a little bit, and to share that with the listener. So what I find is that our minds like to keep us safe. And that is why so many times when opportunities present themselves, some women will overthink it. And they’ll think about all the ways they’re not ready for the opportunity. And they will say no, so if you can Kassala just kind of take us back to that moment. You know, when this opportunity for virtual winetasting kind of that idea came to you? And you said yes, like Mega how, why? What thoughts were you having that allowed you to say? Yes.



You know, it’s funny, it’s coming back to me is when I worked in healthcare, I worked as a PRN it’s called so on call. So I was going all over LA to all these buildings, and like, I’m talking like, competent and like sensory city and like these really scary buildings all the time. And I wouldn’t know anybody. And I would have to go and find, you know, where I clock in and find where patients I’m treating find patients rooms. And I was so scary and but it really took me to like get out of my comfort zone and be like, Okay, it’s actually not that bad. Like you do it, get it over with and have a great treatment with your patient. Or maybe you even don’t, and you leave and it’s over. And so I think that really stretched my mind to realize, like, a lot of times the things we create in our mind about how awful it’s gonna be, and they’re gonna say no, or they’re gonna reject me, or it’s gonna be scary. Like, it’s all stories that we create in our mind. And it’s not reality, right? And like, a lot of times, like the worst case scenario, in our mind is so much worse than what can I actually have? No, I think I just learned, you know what, let’s do it and see what happens. And, you know, worst case, somebody says, Oh, my God, that was no fun. And then it’s not my calling, and I do something else, you know,



I love it. So so it’s like, look, I feel called to do this, this opportunity is in front of me, it may never come again. I’m just gonna say yes, and roll with it. And I can tell you from being an entrepreneur since 2003, in various forms, and also being an attorney. The thing is, you can jump ladies without knowing all the answers. And as Christians, like, that’s the faith walk, I’m going to believe that if this is my calling, then God’s gonna fulfill his promises. He’s He’s promised to equip me and get me ready for this. So I’m just going to trust and I’m going to take that massive leap forward. So that’s just such a beautiful example of that. You know, what else I think is amazing. And you said it yourself. You said that that Zoom Happy Hour on St. Patty’s Day, you said it changed my life. And you know, what? Where did that idea come from?



Good question. Honestly, I think it was probably my husband’s idea. He comes up with a lot of my ideas. I don’t know why we even decided to do that. I think it was just kind of like, I was looking at people’s stories that were like, oh, shoot, we have to cancel our plans. And I was like, You know what, let’s do something fun like the world deserve something fun right now when everyone’s freaking out. And so let’s just like all have a drink together virtually is. Yeah, yeah.



And so and at the foundation of that is service. I love it. Its creativity, its service. And then from that, people started buzzing about it. Right. And I think you said that a friend of a friend. They are the contacts that got you into these big companies, and they just loved what you were doing. So it’s I just wanted to again, highlight that for our listeners that you never know what one idea you can do for your business. And even if it’s never been done before, in my experience, if it’s never been done before, that’s when you really go all in and say, Okay, great. It’s never been done before, or it’s not been done in the way that I envision it being done. And that is when you really get a following. So I don’t know if there’s anything there that you’d like to add? You know? Yeah,



yeah. No, you covered it. That is so true. It’s just kind of like jumping in. And, you know, it’s, if it’s God’s plan for your life, it’ll, it’ll unfold, but you have to be willing, right? You have to be like, Okay, I’m going to do something uncomfortable and scary. And let’s go. Yeah,



that this is so good. Okay, so you take your education, where, you know, the wind is concerned very seriously. You know, I know, before we hopped on here, you had said, You are now at the highest level of master certification, or whatever you call it. And so I’m just curious. So in a virtual wine tasting, what kinds of things will you be teaching us? Or like, what things as we are out there consuming our wine as we do? Kind of what what makes one one better than another?



Yeah, so I always teach my I call it how to sip like a sommelier, the seven essence of wine tasting, as I kind of walk through, like, the proper way to taste wine and the certain steps you should follow because it really does enhance the whole wine tasting experience. But I keep it you know, I can get super nerdy if that I can tell like the whoever I’m teaching with if they’re like, oh, they won’t really want to get into like, you know, oak treatment and yeast strains. Or if I’m like, I just want to talk about the fruit notes, you know. Um, but yeah, I teach about that. And then I usually just dive into whatever wines are tasting and teaching about those and walking them through how to taste them. And but yeah, that’s kind of how my virtual tastings work. I forget what your question. Yeah, no, no, like, what?



Like, what, um, maybe the top couple of tips that we know, when we’re in the store, like, oh, how do we know? And maybe not in the store? But once we get at home? What, what makes one wine better than another? Like, can you give us a couple of tips?



Yeah, so I always say, the smaller production, the better. So if it’s a wine that you see, literally everywhere, like every store, you go to has that wine, you know, 711 has that wine everywhere has it, then it’s not the winemakers baby anymore, right? It’s just kind of, you know, they’re pumping out wines for their money making wine, you know, so, and I’m not saying that they’re bad, like, there’s a lot of high production wines that I love, but on kind of a general rule, if you’ve shopped it, you know, go to a specialty wine store, because then you’re not only supporting a small business, and the store, but then also a small business on the wines too. And you’re going to get way more quality, you’re going to get way more better customer service, and you’re gonna get a lot more bang for your buck when you shop that way for.



And why is that? Why is this smaller production better, besides just that the person is really putting their heart and soul into it, but like, what, um, you know, I some, like, sweet, some, like more dry, like, there’s one better than another? Like, you know, that kind of thing?



Yeah, there is like, I mean, there’s a general way to make wine, but there’s all these little things you can do different. And, you know, there’s some methods that are very quick, and, you know, can get it done faster, but they’re not necessarily the most quality or the cleanest way. And then there’s other methods that take a long time, but create the highest quality and like the cleanest, I guess you could say, and I’m saying that in quotes, because there’s not actually a law for what a clean wine is, but the you know, the less additives in the wine. And so we find, for example, you know, when you ferment the juice, and it’s super cloudy, because it has the yeast and it has the great particles in it, and you want it to make it clear, right, because when we have our wine, it’s very clear, we can see through it right. And so there’s like a ton of different products you could use to clarify, um, but the most like clean way is to just let it settle down to the bottom of the barrel and then rack it off. But that takes like a long time to do let it settle, rack it off, let it settle around, rack it off. So the people who are you know, making it by the millions and putting it in every single story, they don’t have time to wait for it to just settle down they’re gonna use and the clarifying agent to just get it clear so they can pump it out, things like that. And there’s a lot of additives allowed in the United States. Um, and so and everywhere, you know, oh, gosh, I could go into all the wine myths. Yeah, basically, when you shop, a smaller family winery, you’re more likely to get you know the the cleaner winemaking styles, I



guess. Gotcha. Gotcha. It’s so good. Well, I want to talk a bit about Your Instagram following because it’s, it’s it’s big, it’s almost 16,000 now, and I love your reels and you get 1000s and 1000s of views on that, and you’re gaining so much attention that brands are reaching out to you, which is wonderful. So would you mind sharing with us your strategy, your tips, your approach to growing your Instagram following and maybe it’s somehow related to your blog? I don’t know what how they interrelate. Yeah.



So, um, when I very first started my Instagram, and I remember this big account reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to be in an engagement group. And I was like, I have no idea what that means. But sure, why not. So I joined this, it was, you know, like, we were in a DM Chat, where we would all comment and like, on each other’s posts. And then I was like, Oh, this is great. It’s building my engagement, I’ll do another one. And I was in like four or five at one point when I first started. And then I think Instagram kind of was like, No, like that you’re doing this. And I think they kind of cracked down on it ever since. But it really helped me build like my community of people. And so now we kind of all still comment on each other’s posts, and we all still, you know, follow each other’s things. And I think, um, you know, it’s about being intentional with your followers. Like, I never ignore my DMs, like any DM, I’ve always and, um, if you’re listening to this, and I did ignore you, I probably wasn’t on purpose, but I try to respond to every single DM, you know, because you never know, who’s messaging you and what they’re, you know, like, it might come across as just like a Hey, what’s up, you know, but they might be some big brand manager, it’s, you know, or their personal account, or whatever, you never know. And I think it’s just, you know, being intentional with my followers. And, um, you know, being, you know, being kind. I think that’s huge. Like, I think I you see a lot of like influencers who think they’re like celebrities, and that they’re too good for people or whatever. And that’s, that’s not what it’s about, right? And no purpose on my page is to create a resource for people to find, you know, to learn about wine and to make it more accessible. And so I’m constantly providing free resources for people. And I’m always thinking of, okay, if I were following me, what would I want to see, you know, and, you know, people follow me because they like me, or they like to see what I’m up to. But like, at the end of the day, they follow me because they want to learn more about wine, and they love wine. And so I’m always keeping that kind of at the forefront and making sure I’m providing valuable content. So that’s kind of, yeah, that’s my growth strategy.



Good. And it’s, it’s right there. And I think sometimes we overthink it. Oh, I don’t know, I hear this all the time. From ladies, both my clients and those that are following me. And maybe in my Facebook group, you know, they’re like, I don’t know what to talk about. I’m like, Are you kidding? You know, just get your mind, you know, as if you’re your ideal client? What questions do they have? What do they want to know? Don’t overthink it, it’s quite easy. It’s everything you know. So that’s so good. All right, our time is quickly leaving here. And I want to make sure that we tell the ladies about an amazing, fun virtual event coming up for



me and my friend Sarah, who’s also like a wine Instagrammer. And her Instagram is word Oh, blonde. But we’re hosting a gallon times day event virtual. And we actually did this last year, and it was such a hit, and everyone had so much fun. So we decided to do it again. And it’s going to be on February 10. On zoom at five o’clock. I’m sure when this episode comes out tickets will be on sale, but they’re not on sale yet. But they’re going to be $15 for tickets. And actually, there’s gonna be two types of tickets. So you can either buy the $15 ticket and join the event. Or we’re actually putting together an amazing package that’s going to include my Rosae Cassia wines Rosae. And truffles from I work with this really amazing chocolate here in Beverly Hills, and she makes truffles out of my wines. So the truffle actually has like a little bit of alcohol, and it’s really cool. And then we have a bunch of other little goodies that are all from small business female entrepreneurs, and we have a cocktail book. And then we’re gonna have a bunch of speakers come on to and share just like five minute little snippets to share their words of wisdom with us and it’s gonna be a really awesome event. I’m really looking forward to it. So I’m basically I guess, to find the information about this, follow me on Instagram, and subscribe to my email list. And you’ll get all of the details as they come out.



Beautiful and it’s it’s by the STEM at by the stem. And also Kathleen is going to give me the link so that you can check the show notes here as well. I’m so excited for this event. And I was thinking about what I want to share and I want to talk about confidence because I think every woman no matter where you are in the home out in corporate in your own business, confidence is something that we women were too hard on ourselves. So I really want to speak to that. So I’m really excited about that. Okay, beautiful. So, um, you know, this is called the joyful scaling podcast. What gives you the most joy joy in your business Cassia



you know what my favorite moments are, is when I’m guiding a virtual wine tasting. And the person at the beginning is like, you know, I only like XYZ type of wine. And they’re either really picky or they’re like, you know, I’m not really much of a wine drinker. And then after the tasting as I guide them through, and they’re like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. And they’re, and it’s really once they discover all of what’s possible, and a glass of wine, the art and the bouquet and just everything that comes together and the complexities then they’re like, wow, you know, it’s about being a part of somebody’s aha moment with why right like getting to see them. And I remember mine so clearly when it like clicked and I’m like, Oh my gosh, it does smell like a campfire. You know, like, and I think being a part of people’s aha moments is really what



allows joy and it’s such a beautiful way to put it be you know, seeing the light bulb go off in our clients minds and seeing their excitement through our work. That is a beautiful thing. Well Castaway, thank you so much for joining me here today. This is so good. And I can’t wait to join you at Valentine’s Day. Yay. Thank you so much. All right, ladies, thank you so much for listening. And if you’ve enjoyed this episode, and I’m sure you did right, would you please take a moment right now to make sure you subscribe and leave a rating and review especially on you know, iTunes on Apple that allows this podcast to go up in the rankings and we’re gaining new listeners all the time thank you so much for that. But we want to be able to get the message out that in Christ we can pursue the impossible in our business and that our success is inevitable with him. Right so thank you again for listening see a Castlevania and we will see you all next time.





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