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Small Business Tour: 1010 Wine and Events
Business profile

Small Business Tour: 1010 Wine and Events

Names: Leslie and Le Jones

Location: Inglewood, CA

Business: 1010 Wine and Events

What made you want to become an entrepreneur?

Leslie: I was in the wedding planning business and I actually still am a wedding planner. That was really the reason why we decided to open up this space. I had seen so many different venues throughout the city, and I really wanted to open up a venue in the city where I'm from.

Le: I was and I still am an attorney. I got into wine in law school and wanted to open up a space in our community where we could taste wine and learn more about how wine pairs with food. 1010 is exactly that.

What does success look like for your business? 

Leslie: We carry the largest selection of black-owned wines in the state of California. We also carry a lot of women-owned brands and a lot of other BIPOC-owned brands and a lot of LGBTQ+-owned brands. Success for us is really expanding the wines that we carry so that those brands get more recognition in the wine space. Black-owned wine companies own less than 1% of the wine companies in the country. Many of the wines that we carry here, you can't find in any other city or any other restaurant or wine bar in the city. The fact that we're able to expose our city and our community to these wines and help them build their business, that's really success for us because when we do well, they do well. And that's really our business model, and it's been working.

Small Business Tour: 1010 Wine and Events

What has been the most surprising thing about opening this business?

Leslie: When you have a brick and mortar, there's just so many different things that take up your time and your resources. We always laugh because we'll get a phone call like, oh, the dishwasher went out or the oven's not working. These are things we weren't expecting. When you have a home-based business where you're just communicating with clients, there's not as many other things going on that go into your day-to-day operations. We thought the transition would be a lot easier than it has been with having an actual brick and mortar.

Was it hard to find funding? 

Leslie: It was important for us to not start our business in a lot of debt. This was something that we wanted to do for a long time, so we made sacrifices for years to save and have what we needed to initially start the space. Obviously as we got into it, things popped up and funding was needed and we have luckily been able to get a lot of grants, so that has been huge for us. 

To this day we still apply for them as they come up and that has really helped us, but we've also had to borrow money from families. We've also taken out loans, but we don't have to do that very often because we had that foundation of savings.

What is one of your proudest moments? 

Leslie: This month we’ll be celebrating our one-year anniversary, which we're super excited about. We've been able to expose all of these different wine brands. We feel like now is the time that we can celebrate and really party and be excited about what we've done so far—so we have a lot of events coming up. Some of these are ideas that we've had from the time that we opened, so now that we can actually execute it during the week of our anniversary is really cool. We're super excited about that.

quote image
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. You can have grand ideas—but put them in your one, five, or ten year plan. Don’t feel like you have to do all of those things on day one.

What's the biggest thing you've learned in your first year of business and advice you would pass on to others starting a business?

Le: The biggest thing I've learned in business is keeping overhead down as much as you can because you already have the pressure of being a small business and being new. If you just have a lot going out at once, it can add to that pressure to where you have to meet these numbers.

Leslie: I think there's three things that I've learned. One: Don’t off more than you can chew. Build your business step by step. You can have all of these grand ideas, which is great, but put that in your one, five, or ten year plan. Don't feel like you have to do all of those things on day one. 

The second thing that I've learned is to be unique to who you are. In the age of social media, sometimes you'll see other people in your same space doing something different. And it's really easy to look and say, oh, maybe I should do it that way. But for us it's really been important to stay the course. We've had people come in and say "This is a wine bar, so why is it so loud in here? Why is there a DJ? That's not a wine bar." Well, maybe that's not any wine bar that you've been to, but at 1010 Wine and Events we have a DJ—it's loud and it's turnt up.

Number three is the importance of self-care. When we first opened, we were working seven days a week, 15 or 16 hours a day, and we hated each other. We hated our business. We hated the rest of our family and we just weren't able to sustain that. At first we were like, oh yeah, ‘team no sleep.’ ‘We hustle, we hustle, we hustle.’ It's like uh, Sis, just take a day off. Your work will still be there. Your business will still keep moving. But you'll be a happier, healthier person. That's what we encourage each other to do. There's no shame in taking breaks or rest. You're not going to be able to grow into a mature business if you don't do those things.

How do you engage with other businesses in the neighborhood? How have they supported you or how have you supported them?

Le: We try to keep everything local that we can. The florist is local. The chef that started our original menu and curated it is local. The live music that we have is local. We strive to keep it to where we are supporting our community and other small businesses.

Leslie: We also are networked with a lot of other black-owned businesses that are in Inglewood. We're friends with the people at Hilltop, Sip and Sonder, Crowns and Hops, La Create Space, Sweet Red Peach, and a lot of different Black-owned businesses that are based in Inglewood. If there's an opportunity that may not work for 1010 Wine, I love that I'm able to call the ladies at Sip and Sonder and say, “Hey, there's this opportunity. We're not able to do it for whatever reason. I think that it would be a great fit for you.” 

What has it been like being a new business in Inglewood?

Leslie: It's honestly been a good time. We were born and raised here, so we knew that we wanted to open this space here. We were tired of going outside of our community to enjoy good food and wine. It's fun to be here any night of the week and run into people that we went to middle school with, people that we went to grade school with that are just coming in, heard about it, wanted to support us. That also happens with a lot of people that are here. There'll be people sitting at the bar and they'll turn around and see someone that they know or hadn't seen in a long time. We love that we're able to be a part of that.

You're sisters, so we're curious—are there any things you guys butt heads on? How do you balance each other out?

Leslie: What has really worked for us is just understanding what our strengths and weaknesses are. And thankfully, a lot of the things that I am not really great at, Le is really good at, and vice versa. If our vendors or our employees ask us a question about financing or payroll or any of those things—I'm always like that's a Le question. Or if someone has a question about events that we have going on, she'll say that's a Leslie question. We really try to stay in our lane and fulfill our duties inside our business and we trust each other a lot. So that really makes it easy to just say, I know that she's going to answer in a way that is really gonna push our business forward.

How have you all been navigating some of the more recent challenges around inflation and supply chain issues?

Le: Taking it day by day and learning to manage it. I used to order wine a couple days before I needed it, and now I plan a week ahead to allow time for delivery or being out of stock—things like that. Thankfully, people have been gracious with us because sometimes they just don't have it. It's not that we didn't order it or take care of our end—it's just not there. We're grateful to the community for understanding. Hopefully it won't be like this too much longer.

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You have to learn every aspect of your business, which allows you to grow as a person.

What do you love about being a business owner and small business life?

Le: I think the big thing for us is how much we learn and grow every day. Being a small business owner, you find yourself in many different roles. One day you might see us on the grill cooking, next we're bartending, next we're the host. You have to learn every aspect of your business, which just allows you to grow as a person. I don't think you necessarily get that when you're in a corporate environment where you're just in a box: this is your job, this is your job title.

Leslie: I really like the community that small business brings. We have people that come in here all the time because they want to support a small business. And so we really get to build community with the people that live in the area. We're also able to build community with the other small business owners that are in the area. For example, the person who sources our flowers each week—her studio is right up the street. There really is a connection with the small business owners in this area. That wasn't something I was expecting, but I really love it.

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