Not just a drink, a lifestyle! “We are here to break cultural norms and without representation, we can’t do that.”
Frustrated by the lack of minority representation within the wine industry and dampening passion of their day jobs, super identical sisters Nichelle and Nicole who were both working in corporate retail management and the entertainment industry before launching into the wine industry decided to change paths, they amazingly created their own wine! Zinfandel Rosé, The Guilty Grape.
“We reached a point where we were coming home and we just weren’t passionate about what we were doing anymore,” said Nichelle. “It wasn’t making us happy.”
Nichelle and Nicole Nichols co-founded The Guilty Grape, a wine brand committed to breaking barriers and showcasing representation of black owned businesses especially women owned.
On how they both settled for the wine business, they tell afrotech:
“Wine is a lifestyle for me and Nicole,” Nichelle said. “Our entire lifestyle is surrounded by wine. It’s just a vibe for us.”
On how challenging the journey was starting out:
“There is no easy access point into the wine industry, but it was abundantly clear that our mere presence was disruptive to the norm.” ”Between being young, Black, female, finding the right resources, and building the right relationships —there were many hurdles.”. they tell Black Enterprise.
On why they choose to lift as while bagging their wins as they climb:
“Supporting other minority businesses is important to us not only individually, but through our business as well,” Nicole said.
“We don’t see Black-owned wineries or retailers as our competition,” said Nicole.
The Nichols sisters are committed to partnering with Black businesses, whether branding, marketing, videographers, PR, and the likes, they intend to empower and also have plans to expand the number of minority businesses they currently work with.
They aim to help aspiring entrepreneurs in the wine space;
“We try to be accessible to people. We get emails daily on how to break into the industry, guidance in the industry…. It may take a little time to answer every email, but we do get back to people,” Nicole said. “We are here to break cultural norms and without representation, we can’t do that.”
On Longevity & What’s to Come
“Our goal is to create a company that is emotionally connected to our customers,” Nichelle said. “The Guilty Grape brand will discover our true roots in the wine industry and our cultural existence in a world that we are always left out of.”
For the Nichols sisters for their customers it’s not only about seeing themselves within the brand, it embraces a larger vision: for each purchase of a bottle of Guilty Grape, that person is helping them give an opportunity to someone else.
“Our customers are helping us to gain the power and capital to break down other barriers that are in the industry,” said Nicole. “It really means a lot to us when people buy our products. It’s not just another thing. We feel it, we are grateful for every customer.”
In addition to new wine flavors coming out — including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a brand new sparkling wine just in time for the holiday season — they also shared that they are developing a lifestyle line.
“We’re really developing our lifestyle line so that we can come into our customer’s homes and be a part of their daily lives. So, that’s what we’re most excited about,” they both shared.