I started my first job in the spirits industry in January 2013 with Southern Wine and Spirits in NC. I was 22, full of ambition, full of spunk and ready to learn, but more importantly, ready to be the best. I am SUPER competitive with myself so any task turns into a contest pretty easily. After working as an on premise sale rep for a while (meaning I sold alcohol to places where you drink the alcohol on the premises you purchased it on, i.e., bars, restaurants, hotels, country clubs, etc.) I was told I had a “ride-with” coming up. A ride-with is when a representative from a specific brand comes to town and literally rides with you all day to all of your appointments to see how you are selling their brand so they can help you hone your pitch, pinpoint the best accounts for them, and help you sell as much of their product as possible in one day. My ride with was with the owner of one of the brands we represented, ride withs were normal, ride withs with the owner of a brand were NOT normal. Since this visit was out of the ordinary, I knew all eyes would be on me to really impress this guy so in addition to making all of the best appointments possible for him, I planned out where we would have lunches and dinners while he was in town, I had them get new cocktail menus showcasing his brand, I did bartender trainings so every single person in the restaurant was thoroughly trained on his brand, I met with the manager at the hotel he was staying at to make sure they had his brand in stock but also to make sure it was on special at the bar the night he stayed there and made sure his room was stocked with mini bottles of his brand. I had restaurant owners coming out to meet him to make him feel like a real big shot, I mean I pulled out ALL the stops y’all. None of this handwork went unnoticed as the brand owner emailed my bosses bosses boss to let him know just how much I impressed him and how pleased he was with his trip, he even used the phrase “best experience with a sales rep I have ever had” (I told y’all I’m super competitive right? like..I’m not even fun to play with…bless my heart)
I’m sure you’re wondering why I am telling you all of these details, and you are probably wondering why this story is important in any way. Well as you can see, I take a lot of pride in any thing I put my name on, I want to always be the best (I’m the first born in my family and a 1 on the enneagram scale…I can’t help it yall!) so after all of the hard work I put into this visit I was elated when the owner asked me to join him and some of the higher ups of my company for dinner on his last night. I was a 22 year old girl with a ton of drive and I thought that drive was being seen and rewarded, I was SO pumped to go to this dinner, I mean WHAT an opportunity right?? Wrong. I sat there at that dinner with these men who all just sang my praises in emails but I swear sitting there with them in person, I was invisible y’all. This man told me I had set up the best market visit he had ever been on and I promise you guys they forgot I was there. I mean I could be looking someone in the eye having a conversation with them but when another man spoke up I was immediately silenced and ignored. And I knew, without a shadow of a doubt that this treatment was 100% because I was a woman. I am not trying to paint these men as villains at all, they are all very kind, warm, hardworking men that truly taught me how to sell something and I am so grateful for my time with that company, but that industry, much like well..all industries… is run by men, and it ends up being a “good ole boys” club, and in that moment I knew, no matter how hard I worked I would never be one of the guys.
This was such a low low because of the high high I THOUGHT I was just on, I had never felt so small and unimportant in my life, it was soul crushing! BUT, this was the exact moment that I distinctly remember thinking, never again. Never again will I put all of my hopes, dreams, and future in the hands of someone else, especially a group of older white dudes who will never understand how much harder I had to work to be at the same dinner table as them. I drove home that night with tears streaming down my face, not because I was sad, or disappointed, but because I was mad. I was straight up fuming y’all! I knew I wasn’t the only woman that felt this way, I knew so many women around me who busted their butt to be the best of the best, and after talking to these women, I found that they felt the same way I did, unseen, unheard and unimportant. Little did I know that “never again” moment, was really my “AHA!’ moment.
I had no idea at the time, that this moment, was the moment I would be so grateful for now. SurSHE was born because of that dinner. I started SurSHE because of the problems I wanted to fix for people. For consumers, I wanted to make shopping local, supporting women and giving back to be easy and affordable, but for female entrepreneurs, I wanted to help them be seen and heard and help them grow their brand because I never wanted another woman to feel invisible and silenced ever again. This is how the idea for state boxes was born, I wanted to create a platform for the women around me to come together and be seen TOGETHER. Because a rising tide raises all ships y’all. So here we are with one state box, my state box, the North Carolina box. The place I was born and raised. The place where the women who raised me were born and raised and the place where I can look around and be inspired by all the straight up BOSSES that surround me. I cannot wait to add more states to the state box line at SurSHE so we can lift up the women of our communities one state at a time! South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Missisippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virigina boxes will all be coming soon so be on the lookout for your favorite female-led businesses in these states and send them my way ladies! And remember, today’s bad moment can also be your “AHA!” moment, you just have to shift your perspective in order to see it. Thank you for reading, thank you for supporting and thank you for being you. Happy Monday y’all!