Startup To Scale

177. Mom Juice, Kristin Taylor

July 08, 2024 Foodbevy Season 1 Episode 177
177. Mom Juice, Kristin Taylor
Startup To Scale
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Startup To Scale
177. Mom Juice, Kristin Taylor
Jul 08, 2024 Season 1 Episode 177

 Kristin Taylor is the co-founder of Mom Juice, a unique wine brand that's reshaping the narrative around motherhood and wine. Kristin, inspired by her Southern roots and a memorable visit to an Italian vineyard, co-created Mom Juice to bring women and mothers together over a glass of wine. With a commitment to authenticity and simplicity, Mom Juice has grown rapidly, offering wines made with just eight ingredients.

Join us as we dive into Kristin's journey, the story behind Mom Juice, and how it's making waves in the wine industry. 

Startup to Scale is a podcast by Foodbevy, an online community to connect emerging food, beverage, and CPG founders to great resources and partners to grow their business. Visit us at to learn about becoming a member or an industry partner today.

Show Notes Transcript

 Kristin Taylor is the co-founder of Mom Juice, a unique wine brand that's reshaping the narrative around motherhood and wine. Kristin, inspired by her Southern roots and a memorable visit to an Italian vineyard, co-created Mom Juice to bring women and mothers together over a glass of wine. With a commitment to authenticity and simplicity, Mom Juice has grown rapidly, offering wines made with just eight ingredients.

Join us as we dive into Kristin's journey, the story behind Mom Juice, and how it's making waves in the wine industry. 

Startup to Scale is a podcast by Foodbevy, an online community to connect emerging food, beverage, and CPG founders to great resources and partners to grow their business. Visit us at to learn about becoming a member or an industry partner today.

Mom Juice, Kristin Taylor

Jordan Buckner: [00:00:00] Hey everyone, I'm excited to introduce today's n Taylor, who is the CEO of MomJuice. It's a BIPOC, AAPI, woman owned wine brand for moms looking for a clean ingredient and low sugar wines. They're also one of five wine brands in the U. S. that list their ingredients on the bottle, which is really exciting.

Kristin, welcome to the show today.

Kristin Taylor: Thanks, Jordan. I'm so excited to be here. 

Jordan Buckner: So a wine designed and marketed towards moms. I'm sure there's a really great story behind that. Can you tell me about how you got started in this industry?

Kristin Taylor: Yeah there is a great story behind it, but I think every, like, woman who's been to Girls Nights, like, I know exactly where that story came from.

I'll tell you quickly, the name came from Girls Nights, having wine, we were honestly were, this is back from the day when The Bachelor was super fun to watch, you know, if you still watch it, that's fine, but for us, that was our thing. And we Started having kids and one of the babies reached for a glass of wine and we all yell, no, no, no, no, no That's your [00:01:00] mom's juice.

Don't touch that. I was like, oh my god, that's so cute. But going fast forwarding many years Yeah, many years later. I decided to start this wine company and we made our first wine Which was a pinot grigio We could only afford to make one skew because wine is super expensive to make especially your first because you have to licensing and all that stuff And it had overly fermented by itself to 14. 4 percent alcohol, which is super high for a pinot grigio. But what it did is it was so unique. It was delicious. It was crisp. It was super clean. And like our winemaker, we had told him that story and he jokingly was like, Oh, this should be a Mom juice. So we're like, Oh, well, like, let's check the trademark site just to see, like, just to see.

And it was available. Someone had just abandoned the name. We're like, this has to be a sign just to try it. So that's how we kind of cemented Mom Juice into the culture. But my background is super different. I like to say that my story is parts and pieces that kind of came together once the wine company started.

I think. I love Yeah, if you were to look at my resume before, you'd be like, okay, this girl is [00:02:00] everywhere, popping around doing everything. But then it all made sense. So I started my career as an event planner, specifically specializing in weddings. And then I realized weddings were not for me. I just couldn't be everyone's best friend the way they needed me to be.

And I feel like that's super important for your wedding. You want that. And I was like, I can't do this. I'm an introvert. I'm tapped out. I don't want to, I can't talk to everyone at the same time. So I started planning events for the museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Mint Museum, doing all their like charity balls.

And with that said, it's charity, so you need money and you got to still give people booze. And a friend of mine knew a rep. From Tito's, and Tito's had just launched in the market, and they needed some type of, they needed people to start drinking it, so they were sponsoring every charity event possible, and I was like, great, let's sponsor this.

All the young people that came to the gala, which was like 300 people, loved it. The museum started carrying it, and now that became a case study, and all of [00:03:00] a sudden, all these liquor reps were coming to me to create events for them, to showcase their new products, new launches, and whatnot. It was great for them.

They got to use the spin from the liquor brand. They got people to adopt it. And for us, we got free booze or free party to like showcase whatever calls we were trying to champion at the time. So super cool. Fast forward, started working in brand and marketing work for Dish Network, Sling TV worked in a few agencies, you know, repping like eBay and all these huge companies and the big thing I saw was just how to, you know, So, in two months, we got the bottles done, and I got a chance to consult with these two Black women, twin sisters, who wanted to start a wine company.

So, in two months, we got the bottles done. Licensing done and launch the brand. It was insane. I don't know. That was really wild. No, it was wild. You know, during COVID, we all had so much more time because you just, [00:04:00] you realize you weren't really working 40 hours launched it, went like gangbusters and basically my full team looked at me and said, why are you so scared to do this for yourself?

You keep doing it for everyone else. You obviously have a passion. Why don't just try it? And I realized if I failed, at least I had a bunch of wine. So. Oh. Finally launched in 2021, so. That's awesome. So, I know at that time, things were a little different. It still take you two months to launch your own brand?

No. Heck no. It was so much longer. Well, our brand, we make our wine, so it's not white labeled. So, we actually had to make it number one. Number two, I didn't have money. Number three, I like really wanted to do it well because I saw this as a real path to my future. And I had just known everything we did wrong from the first brand.

And I say wrong, it was just different. And the 2020 launching an e commerce brand was so different. You could use ads to scale. And then once that stopped the iOS update, everything changed. And we were all like, oh crap, now you actually [00:05:00] have to have a real brand. How do you do that? 

Jordan Buckner: That is so tough. I think you have a great name as well, but as you know, right, like, getting wine out to people and into their hands is incredibly challenging because you have the three tier distribution system.

You have the, you know, the fact that it's like alcohol, you can't just ship it yourself around the whole country. And so. Tell me about how you launched. I know you were an event planner. Did you like throw a big event for it? Or what was your launch looking like? 

Kristin Taylor: Naturally. Yes. That's the first thing. And it was like, we need a launch party. So we worked with some of the venues I used to work with back in the day. They donate the space for free. Cause you know, we're poor at this point. So like we need help. Did that. We launched, but we couldn't sell the wine. So it was very, like, cuspy as far as, like, how do we get around the rules, but get people to try it, so then they'll buy it.

It was, it was weird but totally stayed within the law. North Carolina does not play about alcohol laws, so that was really important. So we did a launch party, and then Charlotte really became a hub for us, because this was in Charlotte, North Carolina. But then we were [00:06:00] stuck. We couldn't get people outside of Friends Family and like one person past that to buy it because they wanted to understand what it tasted like, but we couldn't sample anywhere and we couldn't get it anywhere because we didn't have any distribution, so we were at this real rock and a hard place for a long time.

I think the real change for us came from learning how to storytell. And to get people out there. And also, I hate to say it, but making another SKU, one SKU in wine is hard. It's so hard. Unless you have a lot of money to get it out there. People want a variety pack. They want single serves, even though that has its own challenges for like the life cycle of that.

So, we had a lot of people giving us a lot of opinions. But not buying it and then finally the Facebook groups got a hold of it and that's what changed the game for us. 

Jordan Buckner: So the Facebook groups was that something you like proactively like when insert commenting and Facebook groups I know there's hundreds of mom groups.

My wife was part of a bunch like how did you get there?

Kristin Taylor: Yeah, so I was in them already. I think just being a girl who [00:07:00] loves a podcast and so many great women have these groups from the podcast. I had just been engaging there, like we were giving each other skincare tips, dating tips, life advice.

What's a 401k? It was really community centric for us. And I was in like four of those groups and my business partner, Macy, had just become a step mom to three kids. So she got into the mom groups. And I basically told Macy, we need to get into these groups and start asking questions. So even before we started developing, it was like, what do you want in wine?

Why do you not like what you're seeing? And why? What are you drinking? How much are you willing to spend? All those questions. And it was like a free beta test group for us, right? Like we couldn't really afford the surveying situation. I was like, there are all these women who love to give an opinion and we love the opinions.

So we started doing that. Once we launched, I didn't want to be like super sleazy, so I didn't like go in and like whatever. But when it wasn't moving, what I did is I hopped into one of the groups. It's like a branding and marketing group, all women. And I was like, our website isn't converting. [00:08:00] I need you to go tear me apart and tell me why.

And we got over, what was it? 500 comments in less than two hours. Wow. That's amazing. And these are women charging 30, 000, 20, 000. It was the most controversial thing ever because of, of course, everyone has their own opinions and I guess people start fighting like, Oh, you need to do this now, that's a bad idea.

But like you get a lot of the. That like tension brings out a lot of really great ideas and things that float to the surface. Right. And then it also did a lot of pressure testing for us. Are we comfortable with this name? some people really mad about it. Other people were like, I love it. It's amazing.

You guys get me. This is fun. I'm glad that there's a brand talking to us finally, which that was the overwhelming majority, but there still was 20 percent of like pure. evil comments, but then we started seeing the brand evangelism pop in where the people who loved it would start commenting to those people and I was like, oh great, so I don't really have to hop in here 

Jordan Buckner: Which is funny because like they haven't even tried the product at that.

No about storytelling and [00:09:00] brand and that's the way like they can just be a fan of you and the Brand of the company without even having to try the but it like that's me more like oh, there's an actual brand here 

Kristin Taylor: Yeah, right. And then it's like, Oh, it's actually good. I'll buy it now. So it's like a whole thing.

But that's really how we like zone in on target market, who we aren't talking to, who we are talking to and where they want to see us and how they want to see us show up. So we love the Facebook groups. 

Jordan Buckner: I love that. I'm curious, but I have a couple other questions, but did you ever develop like your own Facebook group around the wine or did you mostly just participate in others?

Kristin Taylor: So, we do have a group. On Facebook, it's the same name as our podcast, Con Only Moms. And they're really funny in there, but we're actually hiring a community manager to help keep that going just cause it is a little time intensive for me to hop in. But yeah, we definitely have a Facebook group and anyone who's a mom or woman can join or.

Person who identifies as a woman. We accept all the people who are going through the same struggles of children Or just love wine but it's fun It's very [00:10:00] much the same vibe as what I told you advice giving community feeling community driven So 

Jordan Buckner: I love that. So what did it take for you to get into your first?

retailers and distributors because I know that opens up A larger door to be able to start selling 

Kristin Taylor: Yeah. So, I think one of the best hidden secrets is festivals. So, D. C. specifically and Colorado are two areas where you don't have to have a distributor. You can direct distribute in wine, which is major key, super amazing.

At the time, so I moved to D. C. for six months. It's just, you know, this is how like hardcore we were. My family's from Virginia. So it was like, great. I have some people here. I can grab my car from their house. Great. So, we went to a wine festival and we sampled, we sold out, like, we only brought 18 cases of wine, which to us was still aggressive because we were shipping them through UPS. to DC and then carrying them through the streets of DC with a little dolly push cart just me and my, my business partner is tiny. So it was like a whole thing. And we were [00:11:00] so nervous, but we sold out the festival partnered with their retailer and that retailer was selling on behalf of us.

Cause at the time we just didn't know. And so they bought cases. They ran over to us in the middle of the festival and said, can we have more? And I was like, okay, yeah. And then we got on their stuff. So we were only on one store for a long time, but what we kept doing was selling out. So I think we were doing, you know, seven case reups per month, which is crazy for one small store in DC.

So then we took that data and said, Hey, Colorado, we're selling really well here. E commerce is popping in Colorado. Give us a chance. And then found a sales team who helped us get into stores. So we went from one store. And six months later, we were in 287. 

Jordan Buckner: That's a huge jump. How did you actually manage that transition? So that's a lot of work. 

Kristin Taylor: It was hard, right? Because the sales team took a high commission. However, for us, we knew that we were going to take a loss on this because we need to prove to distributors that we would sell. And that was the only way we were going to get someone's attention. Cause we had just been told no so many [00:12:00] times.

So, yeah, we didn't make a bunch of money on that, right? I think we probably made like 15 percent margin at the end of the day after paying for everything. Yeah. But that is the reason we have the distribution we have today and the big retailers we have today is because we could prove, one, that we're scrappy enough. into that itself. 

Jordan Buckner: So tell me about your distribution now, kind of about how many stores are you in and where are you distributed, which states? 

Kristin Taylor: Yeah, so I need to officially count again, but we're at like, I want to say 450 stores. Yeah. We're in North Carolina, Tennessee, Colorado, and then opening up four more states at the end of this year, which is crazy.

We are in Target, in Safeway, Total Wine, and launching in another regional retailer of huge. regional retailer in the Southeast at the end of the year. 

Jordan Buckner: So I love your guerrilla marketing tactics and like getting into like starting to sell and sale. Yeah. That's really, really challenging, right?

Because you basically have to rely on other people or at the beginning of their taking the chance because you don't have sales track record and they're not really sure and their shelves are always, that's what I tell people, right? You go into a, Any store, [00:13:00] especially in like Lucas stores, like the aisles are full of stuff because like that's all little room that they have.

And so like in order to bring in anyone, you have to take someone else out or reduce how much they have. And so they're really kind of taking a, a chance on it. And so for sure, I think that's really amazing that you've been able to build that story and build that cell story and start to grow. Now that you're kind of selling in more stores, what's your strategy for continued growth?

Are you like focused on growing velocity in your existing accounts? Are you focused on adding more additional accounts and states and you're launching a four new ones? Kind of where's the company at? 

Kristin Taylor: So we're definitely focused on growing velocity in our current stores because then that proves to give us more stores, right?

So that's really important to us and then also making sure the retailers that are currently paying the bills for us and getting a hand to consumers are taken care of. So that's number one. Number two is in growth inside of our key states. We have a real specific key state layout based off of either trends or what we're seeing on e commerce and seeing traction and requests from our [00:14:00] customers.

So that'll be really important. We're really focused on sampling. Sampling liquid tulips is everything and it's challenging and it's expensive, but it's the best way to move product, especially in big retailers like Target. You can't just put up your shelf talker, right? You have to tell the story in a different way.

And I think retail is all about how can you tell a story without being there? But, oh, if you can be there, great, right? And then, of course, building community to make sure that people are coming to the show as well and they have that interest and loyalty into your brand once they try it. I think one thing that we didn't understand when we first launched and I think that's a really good question.

I think the biggest thing that really takes to move off the shelf. And it's so great to get in. It's so hard to say, and I know people are so tired of hearing that, but it's just the truth. And I think it's really important to know, can you one, afford the partnership, two How nitty gritty are you willing to get?

Because some big retailers, you can't sample yourself. You can't drive from store to store. You have to use a company, a specific company to do [00:15:00] it. So it kind of takes away some of that scrappiness. So I'll, you know, what levers are you okay to pull? 

Jordan Buckner: Yeah, I think that's a really good point because especially, I guess it's always been that right, right?

Like retail is highly competitive and you need people to experience and try your product. But at the same time, you need. To grow, and as I always tell people, it's all about if the early days raised is about, it's about money. It's about the cash flow that you have to support your brand and either going really deep in selling and seeing velocity and sell through in like a relatively small number of accounts.

Or some brands end up going wide and having lots of accounts with low volume. And there's some, you know, you know, unicorns out there where like they might have an audience already or people willing to buy and have the awareness where they can kind of do a little bit of both at the same time. But it's that constant balance of.

I've had to pay for so upfront, then have a, you know, 30, 60, 90 day pay period back from your retail partners or distributors. And it's one of the biggest challenges of growing any business. So that's the tough one. 

Kristin Taylor:No, and I love that. And I think Macy, [00:16:00] my co founder and I have always had a really specific mantra of deep, not wide, because we're seeing a lot of brands currently on the market that are spread so thin.

Or, you know, we see them in there in 2000 accounts, but we're making the same amount of money a year. And I'm like, Oh, that must be so stressful. I'm already stressed out if we're not selling, you know, a case per week at target per store, I'm like, no, no, no, we got to go higher. Come on. How do we get more velocity more and more?

So I think it's also size of your team dependent, right? Because. Relationships are everything. I tell people all the time, if you really want to make a CPG product, that sounds great. How's your mental health? How's your tenacity? How's your funding? And are you sure? Because it will run you dry if you don't have the right people and resources around you.

And retail is tough. It, I think it is unfortunately, unfortunately the way of the future for CPG products at this point, e commerce is getting worse and worse for alcohol. So, how do you fight that? You go on shelves, you know. 

Jordan Buckner: Tell me about the new Non ALC [00:17:00] product that you're working on. 

Kristin Taylor: Yeah, so she's a passion project for me.

I have always, well I say always. I think Non ALC started getting good in about for me. Like that's when I was like starting to see some really exciting products. outside of seedlip. Seedlip has been doing it for a long time, but outside of that I was starting to see new innovative products. And I also realized at the time that like I was accidentally drinking what I didn't want to drink because I wanted something tasty.

I like wine because I love the taste. And I like cocktails because I love the taste. It's not about booze for me. Booze is a vehicle to make a certain taste profile. So it's like, okay, how can we create something that Bill is the same thing. It's still good with food. It's still going to enhance your experience, but isn't the non alcoholic wine on the market right now?

Cause I just hadn't been impressed. I think there's one non alcoholic wine and she kills it. I love her. It's not either great. But that's it. That's the only one that I'm like, that is good. It's a sparkling wine. But my co founder, while I was in this adventure and we were de [00:18:00] alping our wine to see what it could taste like, our co my co founder got pregnant.

So, we all of a sudden had this test subject of someone who's like, that's all they can have. And we realized when we were going through all the research and looking at the back of the labels and everything, it had all these things on it that weren't quite clear. Like, what is an all natural flavor and can a pregnant person really have that?

And, oh, why does all this non ALC have adaptogens in it? Pregnant people can't have that. And as someone who's really going through a health journey myself, I'm like, I'm not trying to drink anything I don't know what's in it, right? So, we're really excited to fill that gap. We're hoping and praying we can get it out in stores before the holiday season, but making a non ALC product without all the crazy stabilizers and additives that have all those weird chemicals in it is hard.

It's a hard thing to make sure it's shelf stable, to make sure the price point didn't just go sky high because we're trying to use something more organic. So a lot of push and pull here, but I think we're going to get it done. So we're really excited. 

Jordan Buckner: I am excited about all these opportunities and I can't wait to check in with you to see [00:19:00] how all the developments are coming out.

Kristin, thanks so much for being on the show today and telling the Mom Juice story. 

Kristin Taylor: Thank you so much for having me. This is so fun. This is like my version of nerding out. It's great. 

Jordan Buckner: I love it. Talk soon.