How I started an eco-friendly, sustainable wine company that makes buying wine simple

Obvious Wines brand profile feature image
Brice Baillie Obvious Wines founder image
Brice Baillie
Founded: 2018
No of employees: 7
Location: USA

Based in Venice, California, Obvious Wines is a local wine company that’s eco-friendly, sustainably farmed, and estate-grown. CEO and founder Brice Baille came up with the concept for the business after observing how much people loved and enjoyed wine, but at the same time felt intimidated by it. Brice noticed a gap in the market that he could fill by making wines simple to buy at a store or on a restaurant menu. As such, the company’s motto is “because you shouldn’t need a PHD to drink wine”.

After cementing themselves as a key player at local events and in stores near to where the wine is made, Obvious Wines now generates $100k per month. In 2020 and beyond, they aim to focus on ecommerce while launching in 8 states. They hope to double what they did in 2019. The story behind Obvious Wines is incredibly inspiring, so we talk to Brice to find out more.

Who are you and what brand did you start?

My name is Brice Baillie and I am the founder and CEO of Obvious Wines. We’re a local wine company based in Venice, California and have a collection of six wines that are eco-friendly, sustainably farmed, and estate-grown. We’re on a mission to make selecting, drinking, and enjoying wine more accessible, less intimidating, and “snob-free.” Our target audience is really any one who enjoys wine, anyone who wants to learn more about wine, people who are conscious consumers, and anyone who feels intimidated when it comes to wine.

Obvious Wines image

How did you come up with the idea, brand name and logo for Obvious Wines?

I came up with the concept for Obvious Wines after observing how much people loved and enjoyed wine, but at the same time, felt intimidated by it. Being from France, I noticed that when it came to wine, friends would always look to me to make the wine selections, assuming I knew more. They often felt unsure or uncertain about the wine choices on the menu or at the store. This was the gap I noticed.

The brand name speaks for itself—we want to make our wine bottles simple and straightforward to educate and eliminate the guesswork that goes into selecting which bottle to drink. As far as the logo, we wanted to keep it as simple as possible, to coincide with the brand’s entire concept.

Describe the process of launching Obvious Wines?

The brand launched with our first wine, N°01 Dark & Bold. I designed the label myself with some help of a graphic designer. I started by listening to people’s thoughts and opinions, and then found Broken Earth Winery in Paso Robles who was willing to work with me to create what eventually became Dark & Bold. Some early hurdles after bottling the wine was selling the wine. We would go door to door, shop to shop, and were very much out in the field and on the ground trying to understand how everything worked. It was a lot of learning by doing at that point. In the beginning we promoted the business by participating in and sponsoring a lot of local events to increase brand awareness.

A big first milestone was when we got the wine into our first account, a shop called Blackbeard, and the owner looked at the label and wondered why no one had ever done what we’re doing before. That’s when we knew we were onto something.

Since launch, what has worked best to attract and retain customers?

To attract and retain customers, we participate in a lot of events at the local levels. We like to be very involved in our local communities and territories where the wine is sold. Participating in events and holding demos and tastings at new accounts is a way for us to introduce ourselves and the brand and develop a connection with our customers which we find to be very valuable. They then feel connected to Obvious Wines and build a feeling and memory around the brand through these experiences.

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With regards to business growth, how have things changed from a digital, revenue, customer and sales perspective?

We started with small wine shops and went on to restaurants in Los Angeles specifically. Then we expanded throughout SoCal and NorCal by the end of 2019. Growth for us has largely meant opening in and expanding to new markets. Business growth online has ultimately tied back to brand awareness and word of mouth.Most of our focus has been placed on opening new territories and accounts and not so much our e-comm. That will be a larger focus in 2020 but up until now, we haven't used too many tools. We do send out newsletters monthly with special promos which helps drive online sales.

We also had a segment on Shark Tank and when that re-airs every now and then we see a huge spike in orders. But e-comm has grown consistently as the brand gains more recognition and awareness.

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How is the business doing today and what does the future look like?

We’re launching in 8 states and hoping to double what we did in 2019. Our long term plans are to consolidate in key states before venturing into other states.

What’s been the biggest learning experience since starting your own brand?

Each day brings new challenges—it doesn’t get any easier as you go. Starting your own business is not that glamorous and it’s very stressful. You go into it expecting it to be a lot of work, but it’s a lot harder than you might even initially think. People have been my biggest source of information in every aspect of my business. Talking to people has given me valuable insight and advice on the business itself, the wine industry, and the Obvious Wines brand.

I’ve learned so much just by meeting and talking with people and hearing about their experiences in all topics. It’s important to surround yourself with knowledgeable, kind, and inspiring people when starting your own brand.

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What are your top 3 tips on how to setup an Ecom store for success?

I actually set up the e-comm store myself when building the website, which was great for learning. 

I wanted to make it simple, clean, and easy to navigate, so i wanted to make sure I found it easy to use, so eventual customers would also.

What are some of your favorite online business tools you use to run Obvious Wines?

TypeTool Name
Email MarketingMailchimp
AnalyticsGoogle Analytics
ShippingUSPS, FedEx
DesignCanva, Adobe Suite

See what ecommerce tools other founders are using.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts or other educational resources?

Books: Shoe Dog about the founder of Nike who struggled for 10-15 years but was persistent.

Podcasts: How I Built This, Foundr, Freakonomics.

Educational resources: wine magazines and newsletters

Who have been the most influential people for you during this business journey?

Brad, my advisor and an investor, gave me the confidence to try and make something big out of Obvious Wines. My wife, Nasha, for being so supportive and all the people that I’ve consulted with and spoken to along the way. Also, Anne, who was the first employee at Obvious Wines to push sales and get the momentum going

Any other advice you’d like to share with other aspiring entrepreneurs?

Be ready to work hard.

'It’s important to surround yourself with knowledgeable, kind, and inspiring people when starting your own brand.'Click To Tweet

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now or open to new investors?

Looking to hire people for operations, sales, marketing and open to new investors

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