Sherry Rose Stolar - Mountbatten Program
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Sherry Rose Stolar

Sherry Rose Stolar

Entrepreneurial Alumni

Program: London

Intake: August 2007

Current Roles: Founder of Sherry Rose Wine

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In late 2019, Sherry Rose Stolar started her business, Sherry Rose Wine, organising wine tasting events to help wine drinkers build confidence in choosing wines they like.  With Covid, things took an interesting turn, and Sherry Rose went into partnership with London-based retailer Hedonism Wines, organising online wine tasting events.  Sherry ultimately created her own role within Hedonism Wines and now works for them fully.  In Sherry’s words, “When I look back on my career thus far, I am most proud of the moments when I took a leap of faith and followed my heart”.

Describe your business and your role within it.
In late 2019 I started my business, Sherry Rose Wine, organising wine tasting events to help wine drinkers build confidence in choosing wines they like. As you can imagine, starting an in-person tasting business just as we headed into the Covid pandemic wasn’t ideal timing and, in partnership with London-based retailer Hedonism Wines, I quickly shifted into organising online wine tasting events over the course of the pandemic. As the world opened up and I became more ingrained in Hedonism’s business, I ended up creating a role within their company managing events. Today, my role has expanded to oversee all events, including wine marketing for the business.

How did you get into this line of business?
While at university, I had intentions of going into broadcast journalism and secured an internship with US network NBC at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy and then continued my semester in London. It was my first time truly seeing the world as a young adult and I returned to the US in love with wine and travel, and in particular London. This is what inspired me to find the Mountbatten Internship Program and return to London after I graduated. While my placement was with UBS, a serendipitous encounter at a bus stop near the Mountbatten housing in Maida Vale led me to secure a part-time role in a local wine shop, where I worked nights and weekends. When I returned to the US after my Mountbatten year, I stayed with UBS in New York for a few years while getting professional wine certifications on the side, ultimately moving out to Napa, California to get into the industry full time in 2010.

How did you go about setting it up and getting established?
After a number of years in California working in various roles in the wine industry, including teaching Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses, I started to realise that wine education wasn’t practical for most general consumers. Whenever I would tell someone I worked in the wine industry, the first thing I would typically hear in response was “I like wine, but I know nothing about it.” It occurred to me that most wine drinkers aren’t looking to become “wine experts” – they simply want to choose wines that they are going to enjoy! There is also a huge element of social acceptance in being handed a wine list, whether at a business dinner or on a date, for example. I was regularly getting feedback that the way I explained wine made things feel simpler and less daunting, and left my students feeling more confident to make their own wine choices. With this in mind, I applied to the MBA program at London Business School, which brought me back to London in 2017. I focused on Entrepreneurship, writing my business plan during one of my courses, partaking in the programme’s Entrepreneurship Summer School to validate the concept and ultimately set up my business in 2019.

What else is in the pipeline?
In addition to my love of wine and travel, I am passionate about wellness and personal growth, having recently been certified in Integrated Attachment Theory coaching. I’ve started on a manuscript for a book about understanding wine that weaves in a personal journey of growing my own self confidence. I also would love one day to combine my passions of wine and wellness by opening a sustainable winery and wellness retreat center. At the moment this is more of a dream than a reality, but I’ve started planting the seeds and envisioning how this could develop.

What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?
When I look back on my career thus far, I am most proud of the moments when I took a leap of faith and followed my heart. Leaving a very comfortable job with an investment bank in New York City to join a tiny wine marketing agency in Napa Valley was a big risk for me; I took a significant pay cut, moved somewhere I’d never been before and where I knew no one, and took myself off a clear career path to pursue something relatively unknown. I remember when I left UBS and told my colleagues what I was going to do, so many of them said to me “wow, I wish I could do that.” I’ve never wanted to be someone who accepted the status quo and I am really proud that I had the courage to take that leap. That was one of the best decisions of my life.

What has been your biggest mistake/learning experience?
I’m not sure I can call it a “mistake,” but I was constantly challenged in my MBA programme to justify how my business idea was a sustainable business model and not just a side hustle. I think to most people being an entrepreneur means starting and running a large company, having many employees, achieving a global scale, etc. To me, I just wanted to spend everyday making a living doing something I love and helping people in the process. However, in being so focused on that, I think I overlooked how challenging doing everything on your own could be. There were many times where I wished I had a team to support me or a co-founder to share the journey with. To scale my idea, I realised I would have to host tastings everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, and while I loved doing it, it took a lot of energy and I was left with very little for me at the end of the day. Moving into a full-time role at Hedonism Wines felt like I was giving up on my entrepreneurial dreams in a way and I had a lot of self-judgment, comparing myself to other entrepreneurs I saw around me and feeling like a failure. Working through that self-criticism was difficult, but it taught me how to re-frame my journey and now I can see how I should still be proud of what I have created and recognise that I can still be entrepreneurial within a larger organisation.

Who are your role models?
I really admire people who pursue their passions, truly care about what they do, and use their experience and knowledge to help others. I recently attended a weekend retreat of Dr. Joe Dispenza, a neuroscientist who healed himself of a spinal cord injury through unlocking the power of his mind in meditation, and now spends his life teaching others how to do this. Through his work, people heal themselves of all kinds of illnesses and challenges, and the way he so passionately wants to serve others is inspiring. Likewise, I really admire Ella Mills, the founder of food company Deliciously Ella. Similarly, after struggling with a number of health issues in her early 20s she found relief in a plant-based diet and, after writing a number of cookbooks, she now runs a successful plant-based food business with cookbooks, packaged products, an app with recipes and even a restaurant in central London. Seeing people who have a profound experience that shifts their life and then find a way to turn that into a living while helping others is hugely inspirational to me and I aspire to be able to serve like this in my own way.

Any words of advice/wisdom would you impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?
There’s no one right way to do things and everyone’s journey looks different. For me, finding mentors and support has always been incredibly important, but most of all learning to trust myself and stop comparing my story to others. It’s always more challenging to follow the unknown, so I personally believe that to pursue an entrepreneurial path you have to be passionate about your mission and your ‘why’ behind it – it always shines through and I feel it is one of the greatest keys to success.