We had the good fortune of connecting with Shontel Horne and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shontel, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
I’ve learned so many lessons since launching VINOTES Wine Tasting Notebooks, but the one lesson that was the most important was simply learning that self-doubt comes with the territory when you’re doing interesting work and you have to push forward anyway. I almost pulled the plug so many times. I felt like I was making a poor investment and that no one would be interested in a premium wine journal. My mind, trying to protect me, kept trying to warn me of everything that could go wrong. I realized that this is natural with any new endeavor and that you have to push those thoughts to the side and proceed, no matter how risky it feels.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
VINOTES Wine Tasting Notebooks is a line of wine tasting journals that I designed for casual and curious wine lovers that want to learn more about their wine preferences! At the end of every year, I was always frustrated with myself for yet again not doing a project that was 100% for myself, and I refused to let 202o end without finally creating something. I’ve collected beautiful journals for years and I was starting to really appreciate wine, but the wine apps, which I love, weren’t enough. Just taking a picture of wine and writing down the notes felt like a cold, incomplete experience, and definitely no way to learn about wine. I started searching for wine journals and bought a few, but none of them looked and functioned how I wanted and needed them to. I need my notebooks to be integrated into my life and I wanted people to be excited to use their VINOTES. So over eight months, I researched what customers in this category did and didn’t like about their wine journals and worked with designers and writers to bring the vision to life. None of it was easy, but every element of creating VINOTES has felt natural.
My approach to wine information and education is different from what’s out there in so many ways! I don’t want to preach or dictate what someone else likes. That’s not my place. I want wine lovers to start where they are and simply get excited about learning WHY they like what they like. Loving an affordable, commercial wine is nothing to be embarrassed about, I just want the VINOTES customer to be able to develop language and speak to what they like about the wine. There are a lot of benefits and confidence that come with being able to have a conversation about wine, and if you’re already drinking, you’re halfway there!
With TheWineNotebook.com, I want to bring my love of storytelling and point-of-view to the wine world and highlight the people doing interesting things in all areas of the wine industry. There will be a large emphasis on Black wine professionals and women that work in wine, but The Wine Notebook is really just to highlight anyone going against convention to put their own spin on an industry that can be very strict and rigid. There will also be wine information far beyond Wine 101. I’ve been in content for a decade and I don’t want to just repeat articles that can be found anywhere. I will have some expected content because that’s just good for a digital business, but the heart of the articles will be things you’ll only read on The Wine Notebook.
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?
I’ve been hosting friends a lot lately, so I have a pretty solid list. I’d start in Los Feliz (where I’ve lived for nine years) with breakfast pastries and lattes at Friends and Family or Obet and Del’s Coffee, then hit the happy hour at Figaro Bistrot for mussels and fries or grab the Jade Noodles at Sapp Coffee Shop. Next, we’d see my friends at Tabula Rasa for a glass of wine and get a bottle to go before heading out of Los Feliz. I’m obsessed with The Huntington so we’d spend most of the day there strolling the gardens, but if we’re short on time, we’d get out an outdoor fix by hiking up to Dante’s View in Griffith Park or having a picnic at the La Brea Tar Pits. If there’s time for a trip to the beach, we’re absolutely getting huckleberry donuts at Sidecar before driving to Malibu for lobster rolls at Broad Street Oyster Company and swimming at Matador Beach.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My VINOTES story is just beginning, but there are many people that I have learned from while starting this journey. As a journalist, I’ve been blessed to be able to interview hundreds of groundbreaking risk-takers, many of them Black women, and I always try to take away something from every person I talk to. Travel expert Kellee Edwards taught me that once you have a vision for yourself, it’s up to you to put in the work to make that vision a reality. Your greatest goal might be just one class or certification away, and it’s up to you to put yourself on the path to success. Beauty entrepreneur Lauren Napier taught me the power of having a product that can generate income for you without you having to be in a particular place. Years ago I interviewed Ava DuVernay and she insisted on never putting yourself and your creative potential in a box, which stuck with me. And my good friend Sina Grace is the prime example of someone that leads with creativity and doesn’t shy away from putting art, in any form, into the world and I love that he embraces feedback for his own growth.
Other: Tik Tok: @shontelhorne