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Authority Magazine

Female Disruptors: How Jessica Hershfield of ‘Just Enough Wines’ Is Shaking Up The Wine Industry

We’re reinventing wine for the modern consumer. Our 250ml cans equate to a glass and a half, and are easily packable to enjoy on any occasion. We understand consumers want convenience, our cans allow you to take our wine with you wherever you’d like, and there is no worrying about bottle openers or glasses. We’re actively sourcing our wine from the best wine regions in the world, ensuring you are getting the high-quality wine you deserve, in a can.

a part of our series about strong women leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Hershfield.

Jessica Hershfield is the Founder and CEO of Just Enough Wines. Jessica, Stanford ’12, pursued a career in big tech, working at Google, Uber, and Lime; before following her passion for wine. As a first time founder, she is excited about reinventing canned wine for the modern consumer.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

ince graduating from Stanford, I have pursued a career in big tech. I started by working on Google Glass, helping set up and run their physical retail store in San Francisco. In the summer of 2014, I left, and followed a boy I was dating to Singapore. While there, I joined Uber as one of their first marketing hires in the region. After a year of amazing experiences throughout Asia, and beating the heat of Singapore, I realized it was time to come home. I wanted to work for a team that directly impacted every Uber rider globally, and decided I wanted to switch from Marketing to Product. I joined the HQ marketplace team at Uber working on the rider incentives product. After 3.5 years at Uber, I left to pursue other ventures. I took about 6 months off, tried and failed to start a business. I attempted to start an alcoholic popsicle company (there is a theme of alcohol in my life), but don’t think I was in the right headspace to start a business. A few months later I was asked to join Lime to help start and grow their Product Operations organization.

Despite the innovation in big tech, throughout the years I found myself unfulfilled. I was wondering why I was not following my passions. At the end of 2019 I was in Spain, wine tasting, and dreading going back to work. I was much more fascinated by the culture of wine, then the inner workings of a scooter. Wine has always been something I have loved. I wanted to solve my own problem — either drinking too much wine, or not finishing the bottle and wasting it a few days later; so I landed on a single format solution to wine. After a year at Lime, I left, and started Just Enough Wines in the beginning of 2020.

Living in San Francisco, I naturally gravitated to canned drinks as a portable and convenient way to take with me as I explored local parks and beaches, but I struggled to find a canned wine that actually tasted… good. I couldn’t understand how there could be an incredible wine region an hour drive from me, but I couldn’t find a canned wine solution that held up to the quality of wine found in a traditional bottle. I set out to make a canned wine that escapes the poor quality expectation, allowing us all to drink the wine we desire whenever and wherever we want.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

The wine industry, while incredibly large, is still very antiquated. The US wine market alone is a $75 billion dollar industry. However, there are countless reports talking about the decline in wine sales, driven by the fact that my generation of millennials are not pursuing wine like other generations. The traditional format of wine packaged in a glass bottle, and sold through tasting rooms, is failing to interest my generation.

We’re reinventing wine for the modern consumer. Our 250ml cans equate to a glass and a half, and are easily packable to enjoy on any occasion. We understand consumers want convenience, our cans allow you to take our wine with you wherever you’d like, and there is no worrying about bottle openers or glasses. We’re actively sourcing our wine from the best wine regions in the world, ensuring you are getting the high-quality wine you deserve, in a can.

We also know our customers care about sustainability. With aluminum being the most commonly recycled material out there, we are so excited to bring our love for wine and love for the planet together. We’re also donating 1% of revenues to environmentally friendly non-profits through our partnership with 1% for the Planet.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Before we launched, we set up a landing page to collect email signups. We ran a small social media ad campaign as a test to see if we could drive people to the landing page and get some sign-ups. We were excited because we had some good click-through rates, and people were getting to our landing page, but not a single sign-up. Not ONE. After some back and forth checking to make sure the ads were correct, we realized that the part on the landing page where you enter your email was broken.. and had been broken for weeks. While disappointing, I will now always test the end to end flow of a consumer before launching anything related to the website.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Going into an industry I knew nothing about, I relied very heavily on mentors. Some mentors have included industry professionals with years of experience in wine, other founders (including my boyfriend Bradley who is also less than a year into his own startup), social media influencers, and my parents.

I’ll tell the story of Ross Bentley. Ross has over 10 years experience in the wine industry, building some big name wine brands. He came on to help with wine operations, initially leaning in heavily on sourcing and tasting the wine. The first time we ever tasted wine with him, I had this preconceived notion that tasting the wine was going to be super nuanced. I was slightly nervous going in, thinking he was going to start smelling random things like tobacco and barnyard, and tasting notes of cherry and allspice. I was worried I was going to be out of my league. However, the biggest advice he gave us was before doing anything, smell and taste the wine, and just say to yourself, “do I like this? Would I drink a whole can of this?” And that was it. No complicated wine jargon, just simply, do you like it. The complicated wine jargon came later ☺.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

A pivotal part of my career was spent at Uber, one of the biggest disruptors of our time. I fully believe in the positive change that Uber brought — it provided more reliable transportation to more people at affordable rates. I know we can’t imagine a world without Uber anymore, and I stand by the work they have done to change the ecosystem of transportation.

That being said, I know Uber had an impact on the existing modes of transportation that existed. I know the taxi industry was hit hard by Uber, and some people may have lost a job they had known for years. While the disruption was a positive overall, that was a not so positive impact of Uber.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Just do one thing each day — In the beginning stages of starting a company, the biggest challenge I faced was motivation. There would be days where I didn’t know what to do next, or where to even start on something. In those days, I told myself just to do one thing each day. Just take one step forward. Eventually you get to a place where you gain traction, and you no longer have the time to do just one thing each day.

Spend the time to build the brand — Before we did any building, we spent weeks focusing on our brand story and narrative, really diving into what we stand for and what we want to share. Having a solid understanding of our brand helped drive every decision we made. From what wine to source and why, to the colors we used, to the copy on our website; having a solid understanding of your brand is super important to ensure a consistent experience for our customers.

Remember to celebrate the milestones — When you start to build a company, things get really busy, really fast. It’s easy to forget to take a moment to celebrate when successes do happen. However, it’s so important to remember why you’re doing this by taking the time to celebrate wins, even if small. I remember we celebrated when we got to our 100th Instagram follower. While small in comparison, this was a big win at the time for us.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We believe we’re at the precipice of canned wine, and it’s only going to get bigger. We plan on scaling to more states, bringing our wine to more people. We’re also going to add more varietals to our lineup, ensuring everyone gets to enjoy the high-quality wine they prefer from a can.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced throughout all aspects of my career is imposter syndrome. I have felt my accomplishments didn’t matter, and that I would be exposed as not being capable of doing the role I was supposed to do.

A lot of women I know face this similar challenge at a greater extent compared to their male counterparts. The wine industry is a typically male-dominated industry, and at times I found myself wondering if I could break into this industry, especially as a woman. Would I be able to stand up for myself and my company’s needs enough? While men do face imposter syndrome, they don’t have to worry about the added pressure of being a woman in a male-dominated field.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

It might sound cliché, but I love “How I Built This with Guy Raz.” Every entrepreneur dreams about starting a successful business, and I love listening to the stories of people who have done it. Most of the time, you learn about the scrappiness, about how things never go completely as planned, and how you have to roll with the punches. It is inspiring to hear about how it can be done.

My favorite one is the story of Spanks. Sara Blakely is an inspiration for women to follow their passion, not be afraid of rejection, and how to start a company while maintaining your life. As a woman trying to pursue my passion, while still navigating the confusing social expectations of the world, I would like to be more like her.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

The wallpaper of my phone reads, “stop doubting yourself, work hard, and make it happen.” Every time I go to pick up my phone, it’s a constant reminder that I can do this. Doubt is the enemy of success, and I truly believe that if I set my mind to something, I can make it happen.

I have wanted to start companies before. In the past, I stayed in my job, and remained paralyzed from taking the leap to start my company because I was afraid. It takes work to remind myself that I can do this, and this is a reminder to myself that I can.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I took a leap, and escaped the “expected” of my reality. I would love for people to take a step back from their day to day expectations, and really think about why they are making the choices that they are making. Are you expected to be in a certain job, or hold a certain title, or live a certain way? Does this make you happy? I would love for people to holistically think about the life they want to lead and take steps to make that happen. It won’t always be easy, but I truly believe there are ways to make it happen if you try.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can learn more about our company and myself at justenoughwines.com. We’re also available on social media @justenoughwines, and my personal page @jesshershfield.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!