Working in the food and beverage industry for years, we have noticed a severe lack of representation for the talented winemakers of the world who happen to be African American, Latinx, Indigenous, women, or LGBTQ+. Through our own research, we have found that there currently is very little representation of minority-owned wines in the Charleston area. Many of the wines found in our research have been rated 90+ points by renowned wine critics and have been awarded Double Gold, Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards in their respective competitions. That being said, very few of these wines are available through the already-established distributors of the area. In addition, breaking into this industry can be difficult for any winery, but is blatantly more challenging for minorities to grab the well-deserved spotlight. It is our goal at Mantra Wine Distributors to exclusively carry the best wines offered by minorities, women, and LGBTQ+ winemakers around the globe. We aim to give representation across the board to those whom the elite industry has previously overlooked. Given the current political climate and socioeconomically charged environment of today, especially with the protests highlighting overall racial injustice, there appears to be no better time than now for our industry to change and embrace these new shining stars of the vineyard.
Who We Are:
Jonella Orozco is a 24 year old Mexican-American woman. She has a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology with a minor in Computer Science from the College of Charleston and is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. She is bilingual with a fluency in English and Spanish. She has worked as a server, manager, and sommelier at some of the top restaurants in Charleston and the surrounding area. Although young, she has a wealth of experience and knowledge in her field as well as many useful connections in the industry through her work in the wine industry, in the local community, and beyond.
Brooke Lago is a 31 year old woman and is a Charleston local. She is married and has a young son. She is a US Army Veteran who achieved the rank of SGT while in the service. She holds a degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management from the Culinary Institute of Charleston. She has also spent most of her life working in the food and beverage industry in both front-of-house and back-of-house capacities. Years of experience as a server, bartender, line cook and restaurant manager have helped her cultivate the knowledge of how the industry runs and how to be successful within it.
Our Target Market:
Charleston is a small area but incredibly densely packed with world famous restaurants, bars & event venues. Ideally these would be our target market &, to a lesser extent, local liquor & wine stores as well. We also aim to feature at events such as Charleston Food & Wine Festival, Lowcountry Oyster Festival, CIC Vinter’s Dinner Charity Gala, Lowcountry Cajun Fest and more.
Why We Need You:
In order to help get these minority winemakers into the forefront of the food and beverage scene, we need to be able to secure their products and efficiently market them within our community. We require furnished office space which will double as our storage facility. Insurmountably important is our need for proper permits, business registration and legal fees. We also need funding to acquire the initial purchase of stock from each individual winery in order to begin the sales process to the intended restaurants, bars, hotels and other establishments that will form our client base. The first $2,000 raised will go to the attorney and legal fees in order to register as a fully licenced LLC with all state mandated permits. After receiving our permits in the first 6-8 weeks, an biennial fee of $2,500 will be due to the state department. The remaining balance will be used to purchase our initial stock of wines in order to begin actual distribution operations. We are also currently looking into the various legalities of where we would be allowed to operate out of as a business and storage location in order to maximize funds.
We want to service these underappreciated African American, Latinx, Indigenous, women-owned, and LGBTQ+ partners to our local food and beverage industry but we require YOUR help to make all of our dreams and theirs become a reality.
*Follow Our Story & Progress On Twitter @Mantra_Wines and on Instagram @mantrawineschs*
Check out our website at MantraWineDistributors.com
- Scott Hughes
- Christopher Rivera
- Katelyn Radack
- Barbara Gorder
Fundraising team: Mantra Wine Distributors (2)
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