We had the good fortune of connecting with Ronda Fraley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ronda, what is the most important factor behind your success?
My customers, hands down. And I don’t mean having customers, although that’s obviously important, too. I mean the actionable feedback that I get from my customers when we talk and, more importantly, when I listen. I love to see what excites them and resonates with them but I especially appreciate the moments when they share something that I can be doing differently to serve them better. To be honest, you wouldn’t be able to recognize the company that I started with almost three years ago. Thanks to the people who were generous enough to share their honest opinions with me, I changed the name, the product, and pretty much everything else one hundred times over. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the problem I’m trying to solve for my customers—which is that choosing a good bottle of wine means dealing with an overwhelming number of options, whether you’re wandering the aisles of a wine shop or reading an exhaustive wine list at a restaurant. In everything I do, I am thinking about how to solve that problem in the best way possible for my customers. So, what started as one ready-to-host wine tasting experience has transformed into an online organic wine retail shop that offers a wine club, wine packs, and online classes so you can easily try new organic and natural wines or choose great bottles on your own using what you learned in class. Also, what started as what some would call a failure has turned into a revenue generating business that continues to grow. And it’s all thanks to my customers and the feedback they share with me.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The Wine Party Co. is here to make sure that every glass of wine you have is a great one, whether it’s because you’re enjoying a selection from the wine club or you chose a great bottle yourself using what you learned in our wine class. Our customers love that our wine club features a thoughtfully curated selection of wines that are always organic, natural, or biodynamic. That means that we’re thinking about you and what you might be doing this season so we can choose beautiful bottles of the coolest wines that you should be drinking right now. It’s like drinking a PSL in the Fall, but better. And it’s not just our curation process that sets us apart. We also include a Savor Guide magazine in each shipment which gives you a behind the scenes look at why we chose each bottle, background on the winemakers, tasting notes, pairing recipes, and serving suggestions. Read along as you sip your wines or use the information to wow your friends as you split a bottle. While our wine club does have a strong educational aspect to it, our Wine Connoisseur course is designed to teach you everything you wish you already knew about wine in an easy and fun way—It’s all about how to taste, how to describe what you like, how to tell wines apart, best wine regions, how to pair with food, how to choose a good bottle. You know, the kind of info you can use right away when ordering or shopping for wine. Getting to this point hasn’t been easy but it has been rewarding. I mentioned earlier that customer feedback has been a powerful force in shaping what the company is today. And trying to grow a new business during a pandemic has been an experience to say the least. Through it all, I’ve learned not to hold on to any idea too tightly. Starting a business is an iterative process, well researched trial and error. But flexibility and genuine curiosity will guide you through to the next phase, and then the next phase. If you leave remembering one thing about my brand, it would be this: we’re a small female-founded wine shop that makes it easy to try new organic wines that are handcrafted by small businesses around the world. Shopping small and choosing organic have the power to change the world for the better—better for your health as well as the environment and the economy. Oh, and we ship to 38 states so you should join the wine club!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If you visit Los Angeles, you have to hit some of my favorite spots in the city—every neighborhood has its own distinct personality so my advice is to spend time in as many as you can. In Silverlake, visit Botanica for delicious food – and organic wines – and hike the Hollywood Sign. In Hermosa, grab a sandwich from Mickey’s and walk along The Strand. In Venice, order literally anything from Gjelina and explore the Venice Canals. In Santa Monica, get a rooftop table at Élephante and watch the sunset at the Palisades Park. In Malibu, get a tuna melt at the Country Mart and hike at Point Dume. There is so much to explore but those are some of my favorites! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
As you can imagine, I first and foremost want to thank my customers – so many who are friends – who put their trust in me and are truly so amazing to serve. On the industry side, I would love to give a shoutout to Justin Gallen at Rinascimento Wine Co. who was the first distributor to take a meeting with me and was so kind to show me the ropes—and, of course, his wines are incredible. Also, a big shoutout to Jess Rochow, the insanely talented photographer who brings my brand to life. On a personal note, I’d like to give a shoutout to my fiancé, Roman Wroclawski, who I met one month after I started my business. He has given me so much support and encouragement over the years and I’m eternally grateful.