PETERSBURG — Gwen Hurt, Shoe Crazy Wine founder and CEO, receives Virginia Business Women in Leadership Award.
“I am proud of myself and truly honored to be recognized with such a dynamic group of women leaders,” Hurt said.
Shoe Crazy Wine is a private label and wholesale wine distribution company. Its operations are based in Petersburg at 2001 Anchor Ave.
“Why Petersburg? It is a low economic financially challenged area,” Hurt, a Chesterfield resident, said. “We want to hire from communities that are financially challenged.”
Hurt worked in an Information Technology position for 17 years. In 2013, the corporation replaced her with someone who had an Ivy League degree. Two days later, Hurt and her daughter Brittny were in a severe car accident.
In 2014, while laying in her hospital bed, Hurt came up with a plan B, a winemaking business. She didn’t know anything about the industry, or even where to begin, but she felt an intense urge – a calling.
In a 2018 interview with The Progress-Index, Hurt shared the following…
“I called out to my daughter, ‘We’re going into the wine business!’” Hurt recalled. “I always wanted to own a vineyard when I retired, and I had made wine in my kitchen using a wine-making kit I got as a gift for Christmas.
“I just did it one time, and I said, ‘One day I’m going to own a vineyard,’” Hurt said. “My daughter [Brittny] told me, ‘You know, those housewives, they always start businesses… you’re just as smart as they are. Let’s just do it.’”
Shoe Crazy Wine
Hurt’s daughter who suggested Shoe Crazy Wine for the company name due to her mom’s passion for shoes became the marketing director for their family-owned company.
Shoe Crazy Wine sources grapes from select vineyards in the North and Central Coasts of California. After customers provided feedback about her wines being too dry, Hurt provided sweeter selections, softer wines that are smooth to drink.
“‘Soft Palate’ is a phrase I coined to describe the type of wine our customers were asking for — a wine that was lighter, sweeter and less harsh,” as stated by Hurt in Virginia Business magazine.
According to Edwin Gommers, Chief Financial Officer, Shoe Crazy Wine products are presently sold in 11 states and Washington, D.C. Hurt plans to expand into more markets.
Shoe Crazy Wine items are sold at retailers such as Total Wine & More, Sam’s Club, Food Lion, Kroger, Target, Costco and Walmart Inc. as well as restaurants and wine shops. Wine lovers can also purchase products online and have them shipped within 34 states.
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“As an entrepreneur, I’ve had to pivot several times. I tell other entrepreneurs, ‘If it’s not working, and you still want to stay in that industry, then pivot to something that will work in that industry,'” Hurt said.
During COVID, Hurt and her team realized the liquor industry was the strongest, so they focused on partnering with folks that would produce new products the way they wanted them to be.
“We recently pivoted to spirits, and now have moonshine geared for a lady’s palate: vanilla ice cream, apple cobbler, coffee and mango,” Hurt said. “We also have peach whiskey and pineapple vodka.”
Virginia Business Women in Leadership Awards
Hurt and 41 other women leaders were selected as honorees from a pool of over 300 nominations. Hurt is featured on the front of the July 2022 issue of the Virginia Business magazine which covers economic activity in every sector and region of the Commonwealth.
The Virginia-based nominees’ overall career accomplishments, community engagement, and mentoring work with women and girls were taken into consideration by Virginia Business’ editor and publishers when selecting winners.
Shoe Crazy Wine supports local organizations like Dress for Success, Open Your Heart Foundation and Richmond Kidney Foundation.
What advice would Hurt provide to entrepreneur wannabees?
“I would tell them to pursue their dream. For some, it may be a hobby that they would like to turn into a business,” Hurt said. “They need to research the industry; then go full throttle”
I bet the company that let Hurt go could use a glass or case of Shoe Crazy Wine about now. 🙂
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— Kristi K. Higgins aka The Social Butterfly columnist is the trending topics and food Q&A reporter at The Progress-Index. Have a news tip on local trends or businesses? Contact Kristi (she, her) at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow @KHiggins_PI on Twitter @socialbutterflykristi on Instagram.
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