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Join Susan as she interviews Inez Ribustello, the former Assistant Cellar Master at the World Trade Center restaurant “Windows on the World” during the time of the 9-11 terror attacks.  

Fortunately for Inez, she happened to be on vacation in North Carolina when the towers came down.  Her soon-to-be husband also worked in the World Trade Center, but happened to be off that day as well.  While her life and her future husband’s life was spared, she lost friends, colleagues and her job that day.  She also lost her innocence and rose-colored glass view of the world.

Raw And Real Entrepreneurship episode 284 with Inez Ribustello

The tragedy was a catalyst that moved her into a new direction.  She ultimately moved back to North Carolina where she and her fiancé opened “On the Square”, a restaurant, wine bar and retail store.  The wine list at On the Square holds the prestigious Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.

Her next big venture was Tarboro Brewing Company, a microbrewery that started brewing in February of 2016. Almost a year later, she and her husband opened a satellite taproom serving tacos in the Rocky Mount Mills.

In September of 2021, Inez self-published her memoir Life After Windows.  In 2009, Inez placed 2nd runner-up in the Best Sommelier in America competition held in New York City. She is a member of the Alumni Hall of Fame for the Institute of Culinary Education and a graduate of the Court of Master Sommelier’s Advanced Exam.

Inez Ribustello’s Bio

Inez Ribustello got her start in the world of food and wine after moving to New York City from her home state of North Carolina. Though she grew up in the small town of Tarboro, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1998 with a degree in journalism and mass communications, her dream was to pursue a career in cooking. She chose New York’s Institute of Culinary Education to get her started. There, she began to learn about wine, which inspired her to take a job at Best Cellars, the groundbreaking, mid-priced wine store on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Her wine career took a huge leap forward when she became an Assistant Cellar Master at the renowned World Trade Center restaurant Windows on the World. In a very short time, she was promoted to Beverage Director, putting her in the position as wine buyer for the largest grossing restaurant in North America. It was here where she met her now-husband, Stephen.

The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 impacted her both personally and professionally. Having lost friends, colleagues and her job in the bombing, she had to face her future. She chose to throw herself into her work and took the position of Beverage Director for Blue Fin Restaurant in the W Hotel-Times Square. At Blue Fin, she created a 500-label wine list, including more than 50 wines by the glass, and developed a cocktail list that received rave reviews from New York magazine.

Having conquered New York, her next move was to return to her hometown with her fiancé.

Together they decided to open their own restaurant, wine bar and retail store called On the

Square. The wine list at On the Square holds the prestigious Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.

Inez’ next big venture was Tarboro Brewing Company, a microbrewery that started brewing in February of 2016. Almost a year later, she and her husband opened a satellite taproom serving tacos in the Rocky Mount Mills. Needless to say, creating businesses in eastern North Carolina keeps them very busy.

Stephen and Inez have two 2 children that they absolutely adore: a 17-year old daughter named Cynthia and a 15-year-old son named Stephen.

In 2009, Inez placed 2nd runner-up in the Best Sommelier in America competition held in New York City. She is a member of the Alumni Hall of Fame for the Institute of Culinary Education and a graduate of the Court of Master Sommelier’s Advanced Exam.

While wine, food & beer is a passion, Inez’ real love is for Edgecombe County Public Schools where she feels the most at home as that is her true alma mater. Having just retired as board chair for Teach for America in Eastern North Carolina’s region, Inez loves the children of her home county and works tirelessly to support the great growth happening right this minute in her community. She knows that part of that work comes in creating businesses that attract talented and loving teachers.

In September of 2021, Inez self-published her memoir Life After Windows, a book she wrote chronicling her journey from North Carolina to Manhattan where she ended up finding her dream job as Beverage Director at Windows on the World in 1 WTC. After the events of 9/11, Inez eventually found her way home to the town that raised her where she has started multiple businesses and a family. A staunch public school supporter, Inez works hard at keeping her businesses relevant and cash flow positive as well as being a part of systemic change in regards to racial equity.

Show Notes

Read Full Transcript

Speaker 0:00
Welcome to Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, the show that dares to bring the no nonsense insight to those who have the coverage to start, grow, and scale a business. Here's your host, entrepreneur, investor, and best selling author Susan Sly.

Susan Sly 0:17
Well hey, what is up Raw and Real entrepreneurs? Wherever you are in the world, I hope you're having an amazing day. And this amazing human I am about to share with all of you, I got so caught up in a conversation, I almost forgot we were doing a show. And I was like, oh, Susan, come on, hit the record button. Let me just say before I even share her bio with you that, you know, if you're, wherever you are in the world, right now, I know, Nigeria is coming up in our listening audience. Whether you're in South Africa, whether you're in Cambodia, wherever it is, I just want you to know that what you're going to take away from today's episode is that you can create a business regardless of the area you live in. And that's what I want everyone to know. Then don't forget, we love a good review here at Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. And we've had some great reviews. If you do go and give a review and I read it on the air, you will get a $50 amazon gift card from me to you with love. So do go give a great review. We'd love to hear it. So my guest today is the owner of the Tarboro Brewing Company and Wine and Dining, Inc., say that fast, five times. Oh my gosh, we were talking about the beverage industry before and that it is a really interesting industry to break into. This incredible gal got her start in the world of food and wine after moving to New York City from her home state of North Carolina, which I've been to many times, and she grew up in the small town of Tarboro. And we share that in common, growing up in small towns, and graduated from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 1998 with a degree in journalism and mass communications, and so kids, a lot of kids listen to show, just know that when you go adulting, sometimes your career is not based on what you got your degree in. And she chose New York Institute of Culinary Education to get her start there. And she began to learn about wine, which is probably differently than I learned about wine, which inspired her to take a job at Best Sellers, the groundbreaking mid priced wine store on Manhattan's Upper East Side, her career took her to assistant cellar master at the renowned World Trade Center restaurant, Windows on the World. And she's She climbed the ranks and then she said you know what? I am going to go into business for myself. And so we're going to hear that story. But I want to welcome this amazing entrepreneur, incredible human,and author of Life After Windows. Inez Ribustello. Inez, thank you so much for being on Raw and Real Entrepreneurship.

Inez Ribustello 3:14
Oh, my Susann. Thank you so much. I think that's the nicest thing. That introduction is overwhelming. Thank you.

Susan Sly 3:21
It is my pleasure. So first question I have for you is, were you a born entrepreneur or did that path evolve for you?

Inez Ribustello 3:35
Gosh, I don't think I was a born entrepreneur. I was a born worker. I loved to accomplish things. And I also loved to make money. Notice I didn't say save money because I'm a big spender. But yeah, I had a job since I was 12 years old, you know, at the beginning was babysitting, and it was working in a children's clothing store. It was a restaurant and it's like, at the student bookstore in college and bartending. And so I just loved working. And I'm not sure I ever saw myself as like, starting businesses. But that's certainly where I landed.

Susan Sly 4:24
I love it. You admitted about being a spender. The audience knows it's very consistent where I give shout out to Dave Ramsey, and I probably listen to that show almost every single day, and they don't say spender, they call it the free spirit. So I love that. Yeah, it's a free spirit. Inez, in terms of you mentioned being a hard worker. And there's this very interesting, I guess, economical shift that's happening and a social shift, where even you know, people are saying yes, I want to build a business, but I only want to work three or four days a week, or I want to build a business and I only want to work two or three hours a day. Having built a business, especially in what we can, some would consider a very tough industry for women to really break ground in, how much would you credit your work ethic to being able to help you overcome some of the challenges that you've had?

Inez Ribustello 5:26
Yeah, I can't say that it was always the healthiest or the best for me personally. But certainly, when I first started, I was a lot younger. I was a woman with a heavy southern accent in Manhattan. And those were almost three handicaps for me, you know. People didn't think I knew anything, because I was young, a lot of people didn't think I knew anything, because I was from the south. And then, and then I was a woman. And I overcompensated that, for that by just dominating in everything I did and working probably more hours than a, than a healthy person should. Now, I do believe that it's not the hours of work. It is what you accomplish, right? So I can come in on a day and work 10 hours and go home and feel like I got little done. Right. Like, I did not check the boxes. I didn't get those, I didn't do that. And then there's some days, I can go in for, you know, a couple of hours. And I have made great strides. And I tried to incorporate that into my leadership now. Like, I don't need to know where you are if you're showing me results. Right? I don't have, you don't have to come into this office and be here for eight hours a day, five days a week because I'm not interested in that. I'm just interested in what we're getting done.

Susan Sly 7:10
Yeah, that's huge. And that's, the conversation that is going on so much around management and employees is this conversation around fulfillment and how do we feel fulfilled in our work is progress, right? When the project isn't moving forward, or we're not seeing results. And that's what causes burnout. And we're just doing the same thing over and over. But we're not moving the needle. And so I love that you said that. And that it's that, I guess that comes from maturity and wisdom and that doesn't necessarily have an age on it. I just turned 50 and like yourself, you know, the I compensated for years working, I'm gonna say ungodly hours and you know, three jobs and doing but not doing it for a season with an end goal in mind, just because I felt like I always had to prove myself and you know, my worth as a woman, so I totally get it. And so you, going back to New York, you're you're building your career, not in journalism, in the beverage industry. I don't even know. Can you tie those two together in like, in some regard?

Inez Ribustello 8:30
Yeah, you know, originally, I was going to move to New York, go to culinary school and then tied and I got just, you know, getting a show on the Food Network. That's not hard.

Susan Sly 8:46
You know, anyone can do it, right?

Inez Ribustello 8:47
Super naive on my part. And so, for me, you know, part of incorporating my journalism career throughout the past 22 years, was writing wine descriptions, and like printing them on the wine list for people to read and to, like make wine super accessible by relating it to tangible things that people have smelled or tasted. So I was always excited about that. And then, when I moved back to Tarboro, and opened a restaurant, I started a blog. And I intentionally called it Because there were days that I wanted to write about being a young mother. There are days I wanted to write about wine, there are days that I just wanted to write about the Elf on the Shelf being a pain in my ass.

Susan Sly 9:44
So thank you for admitting that. Thank you for admitting that.

Inez Ribustello 9:48
But it was so well received by the people who came to the restaurant and then gradually like, people in eastern part of North Carolina and it was such therapy for me just to have that outlet to write. But yeah, there was no like, I did a few guest op eds on wine and in publications and stuff like that. But really it was just me, for me until the book.

Susan Sly 10:20
So this is such a random question and I love that. That just creatively expressing yourself with no guardrails and saying I'm writing about the author, Michelle, today, I'm writing about, you know, being a mom, I'm writing about wine, which those things do tie together, I've just got to do a sidebar story. So I've been Whole Foods when day and, you know, I have a dearth of children myself that this particular time I had no children with me. And I'm going through Whole Foods and I'm walking down at our local Whole Foods. The the wine aisle, also has, like, you know, the sparkling beverages like Lacroix and the waters and stuff. Anyway, so I'm going down there, and there's this mom, and she has a toddler, Inez, in her cart, and her eyes are like, bulging out of her head. And she looks at me, she's like, I didn't even drink until I became a mother. I put my hand on her arm, and I said, Honey, okay. Like, she just needed to tell someone. I'm like, as long as you're not day drinking, as long as you're not drinking to get drunk, it's okay. It's okay. Right? So I love that you shared that story and that creative expression, and one of, this is such a random sidebar, so, as a wine drinker, I'm the kind of wine drinker that is very particular about my wine. And I read a description and when it says notes of tobacco, I'm like, No, I do not drink it. So how are, in the description, when it's notes of tobacco, how is that appealing to someone who would never smoke a cigarette? Like I need to know as someone who has written wine descriptions, because that's been a burning question for many years for me.

Inez Ribustello 12:09
Yeah. So I have never smoked a cigarette. I am not a fan of cigarette smoke. However, from someone who's grown up in rural eastern North Carolina, where tobacco fields were the norm, wet tobacco and harvested tobacco has a very distinct aroma that is not similar to cigarette smoke. And often comes in Left Bank Bordeaux, sometimes age Rioja, sometimes Sangiovese, but it is, you know, it's, it definitely has that aroma of WetBag. Like I can remember it from my childhood. But I can totally understand how it's super off putting. But yeah.

Susan Sly 13:05
Maybe that they need to shift that narrative like, you know, aroma of wet tobacco, fresh tobacco plants, just something right, like anyway, and then there might be some more appeal for I don't know, maybe I'm, maybe I'm the only weird one.

Inez Ribustello 13:25
They should not lead with wet or tobacco.

Susan Sly 13:27
No. Oh, no, I agree. Um, my I had a friend of mine on the show. I can't remember what episode it was now. His name is Jess Toddfield and just prepares entrepreneurs for when they're gonna go on CNBC or Fox Business or whatever so they're, they're in the zone. And we spent almost the whole episode talking about wine, it was so funny. I'm like, we're supposed to be talking about something else. So I need to pull myself back from that because there, you could probably answer so many of my burning questions about that. That's a whole other episode. Just maybe we'll pour some wine and we'll do the episode because that-

Inez Ribustello 14:03
would be fun.

Susan Sly 14:04
So let's go, going back to New York, you were there for 911. And that day evokes so many memories for people, emotions for people. And what was your 911 experience?

Inez Ribustello 14:26
Yeah, so I was super fortunate that my sister had gotten married on the eighth of September, and I was home, being the maid of honor in her wedding. And because my parents have been divorced since I was super young, whenever I came home and stayed with one, there was always the expectation that I stayed with the other. And so I was with my mom and my sister. And we were, had driven to the mountains just to get a couple days away. I was, my flight was due to fly back to New York on September 12th. And I had, this was the day of the beeper, right? I had a beeper that I kept on me all the time. Probably had it at my sister's wedding ceremony. And, or pager.

Susan Sly 15:15
I haven't heard beeper in a long time. That is aging us girl. So for the youngsters out there that don't know what it is. So we used to carry these things that were the size of a very small iPhone or half the size of that on our belt, and we had it had a clip, and we clip it on the belt. And it just kind of meant that you were important enough that people needed to reach you. So I just wanted to have a sidebar explain.

Inez Ribustello 15:44
Sorry, Susan, my dog is going crazy. I Yeah, so I had that. And I, it was going off. But my mother had woken me up and she was crying. And so I thought something had happened to my grandmother. But I, she said just come watch the TV. And so I sat on the floor in the living room of this condo we were staying and you know, so naive and so in shock that I just thought this is going to be such a mess to clean up. Was not even thinking like, not even fathoming what, what happened would happen, right? Like, there was never any thought in my mind that either of those buildings would fall. In fact, when I'd gone to orientation years ago, somebody had asked a question like, what if a plane flies into this building? And they had said it was built so that it could withstand a plane flying into it. But they didn't anticipate the amount of gasoline on a flight in 2001 is what really happened. And so I was frantically trying to call my office which was a busy signal. And also trying to call my boyfriend who also worked at Windows at his apartment in Jersey City. And then watched the second plane hit. And then, you know ultimately watched the towers implode and somebody asked me, did I cry that day? And I don't remember crying that day. I just remember going completely numb and dying inside. I died a little that day. I mean, a lot of people died a little that day, you know, was a terrible day for our world. And certainly, I waited way too long to invest in therapy after. But when I think about grief and grieving, mostly, it's because we lose a person. But we're always able to go back to the place where we can remember that person. And in this instance, we lost multiple people, in that case 85. And then we lost the place where we really celebrated together. So it was a loss, and really painful.

Susan Sly 18:51
And Inez, if you could go back in the place you're at now and speak to you, Inez, one week before, so it's September 4th, what would you say to her?

Inez Ribustello 19:07
I mean, honestly I probably would have said go be there, you know, and let the people who were working for may not be there.

Susan Sly 19:26
At some, to experience being on the receiving end of such a heinous act, I can only relate to the extent that I'm a Boston Marathon bombing survivor. So that, there were days when I was angry. There were days when I was grieving. There were, there were several years I couldn't even hear fireworks. I remember 2013, it was New Year's Eve and Chris and the kids and I were skiing in northern Maine, and the fireworks went off. And I, I was cowering in the bed in the fetal position, because I couldn't handle that sound. And so there are people listening all over the world right now who have not experienced that, and we hope you never will. And to lose your colleagues working. I grew up in hospitality in our family restaurant, and people who work in a restaurant become a family. And so, and Inez knows this. And so Inez lost her family that day. This was significant for you because sometimes it takes an extreme situation for us to go down a different path in our lives. And this was a catalyst for you, that started you on the road to where you are now. So how did that how did that journey begin?

Inez Ribustello 21:13
Yeah, you know, I was diehard New York, never gonna leave, this is my place. Loved Windows, loved it. I mean, for corporate culture, it was so family oriented. I mean, we had, I think it was over 50 countries represented in terms of our team, it was not unusual for a ton of us to go to, what's the type of Chinese, we went to this like, place in Queens that we all ate together where people were playing Mahjong, and I think it was bring your own, like, it was just really very special. You know, you could go in the stairwell and a certain time of day and people were praying, it was just, it was very, was a family and it was, like the woman who ran the uniforms, she altered my bridesmaids dress, like, right. Like, it just was very family and I needed that family back so badly, and took another corporate job way too soon after. And it was maybe a family but like a super dysfunctional family. There was a lot of, nobody was happy with their job. And that was what was so special about Windows you, you couldn't really not be happy because everybody that was coming in was so excited to be there, you know, and it was definitely like a celebrated spot. But yeah, took a job where it was so clearly the opposite of Windows, which was definitely where I said, Stephen, I can't, I can't do this anymore. Like, I gotta, I gotta get out of here. And my family, of course, was begging me to come home. They'd been begging since 9/11. And so my, so Stephen said, you know, your parents will let us come and take a break. Not many people have that opportunity. And so we moved home. We moved in with my dad, my stepmother, and we're preparing to go work the harvest in France in fall about two. And right before we went this woman called my home phone and said I heard you and your husband owned Windows on the World. That's how you know, small town works.

Susan Sly 23:56

Inez Ribustello 23:58
We didn't own it. But thank you I'm sure that's what's going on, all are retired where I am right now. I said you know, we don't have any money and we're really not interested. We're gonna move to France. We're going to come back and we're gonna move back to New York. But my dad heard the conversation and went down there, looked at the, looked at the restaurant, came back and said to my fiance, If you build it, they will come. And Stephen said this place is a culinary wasteland and it will not work. And I'll, but I love you and I'll give you an 18 month commitment. And Susan, this October we turned 20 years old. Which you know, I am proud of because I will say the statistics are 90% of all freestanding restaurants fail within the first year and 95% fail within the first two years. And I understand that because it has been the hardest work we've ever done. You know, you think about chefs and big cities where they really just get to be the creatives and somebody else handles payroll, finance, sales tax. But some people even have orderers, you know, ordering department or purchasing. We have done it all. And it's, you lose a lot of the fun in that. Right.? Especially when you're looking at the finances and restaurants because

Susan Sly 25:33
little thing called COVID happened to the restaurant industry. Yeah, yeah. And Inez, so this restaurant, happy 20th, by the way, like, I am so proud of you, in awe of you. This is a random question, but I was, so I was speaking at national, you probably don't even know this about me. So I was speaking at the National Restaurant Association, big conference in Chicago this year. And one of the things I said, I was speaking on AI implications for restaurants. But one of the things I said, having grown up in the restaurant industry is you know, that your greatest asset is your people, your greatest liability is your people that you want to treat the people well who are there. After what you experienced with Windows, I have every belief that some of the people that work for you are your new family. So you got that, you did. How did the woman you became because of 9/11 help you navigate COVID as a restaurant owner in the hospitality industry?

Inez Ribustello 26:50
Yeah, so just quick sidenote. In 2016, I left the restaurant to run and operate our brewery. So Stephen has been doing that for the past six years, and I've been full time brewery, which I might also add, like, running a restaurant, hard, it's really hard with your spouse and say, Stephen and I made the decision that our marriage was more important than working together.

Susan Sly 27:26

Inez Ribustello 27:27
And we were creating this other business. So, um, but yeah, I actually dedicated a chapter in the book to March 2020. Because when the country shut down, it certainly felt like the world was shutting down also. There was an eerie similarity to after 9/11. You know, the thing about Windows people is, because everybody was from all over the place, even the people who survived, I didn't get to see them again, necessarily. I mean, there were a few. But like, there were a lot of people who were still living that I just never got to see again, because they moved back to the country they were from, the state where they were from, or, you know, New York's big. And less so in Tarboro but more so in bigger cities, a lot of people who worked in restaurants, when COVID hit like, this is, this is a sign. I need to go back to do, to do, back where I'm from or back to do what I want to do. And it just, the feeling, I don't know, it's just an eerie feeling of loss of control. You know, just no one's in control here. Like after 9/11, I mean, everybody's like, you know, when you mentioned the story about fireworks, If I was outside and a plane was flying overhead, I was crouching under a bench, a bush, anything, because I was so scared of this plane. I mean, I've seen planes my whole life and all of a sudden, I just had this panic, fear of a plane hitting something. I don't think that will ever go away, unfortunately. But yeah, the COVID thing felt like such a loss of control. Like, what are we going to do for our people? These are people who have been with us. We have people who've been with us for 20 years

which is also unheard of in the restaurant industry. But it was, the interesting thing for me is I didn't feel like everything was gone, right? Like, because I've seen really what happens when everything is gone.

Susan Sly 30:19
That's huge. And I'm thinking about, you know, this whole concept of trauma to triumph. Right? And that going through something traumatic, it's not. Again, it's not something you wish on anyone, but when you've had an intense experience, right? Like, the ability, that when you're going through something else, to say, Okay, I know how I'm going to react. And as a leader, an owner, and entrepreneur, if you can anticipate how you're going to handle it, because you have a sense of what's coming, knowing how you, Inez, show up when there's a lot, you know, a lack of control, that gives your team members certainty, which is huge. And I want to ask you, you know, the, this is like, again, a COVID thing. So, how did the brewery do? Because alcohol consumption went up during COVID. So you've got, you know, the restaurant, but then I'm sure you know, you've also got, you know, people who either, you know, aren't going to come to work, are going to come to work, but you know, and new restrictions. So how did the brewery do with COVID?

Inez Ribustello 31:40
So the brewery took such a bigger hit than the restaurant and the wine store because, yeah, alcohol consumption went up, but it was mostly in the form of wine and spirits. I think people were very cognizant of beer being higher calories, or more fattening, if you will. And so, going into COVID, that was the year 4 of TBC, Tarboro Brewing Company. And I had geared up for it to be the year that we were going to start making money. And we went into COVID with more draft beer than we'd ever had. Draft beer sales dad, people couldn't come into the tap room and drink a pint. And bottle shops were not an essential business. The grocery stores that served a beer while you were shopping were no longer doing that. And so it was, I went head down into PPP firstly, just save our people who were working there. We developed this pants drunk series of beers, where we got to label design like the, I guess, I think it's the Dutch term for people who just sit around in their underwear and watch TV and drink and started planning from keg, which you can't sell wholesale box. It's not the safest way to canned beer. But um, we sold in like, outdoor beer sales, where with contactless pickup, right? We had it ready to go. They ordered it online. Our team really was so grateful to still have their jobs that everybody came together. I laid myself off for the first month until I could get the PPP going. But yeah, the brewery, it took the biggest hit. And the restaurant actually did better during COVID with no table service and takeout only. And then the wine sales are just at an all time high. Yeah, the brewery, the brewery is tough, but I mean, we did it. We you know, we're going into year seven, and it was a, it was a tough ride. But, you know, I think we made, really, we ran lean and green and we made sure that our people felt appreciated and with that came even more investment.

Susan Sly 34:24
That, I love the the story because what I'm hearing is that you're this kind of woman where you'll always find a way and this pants drunk. That's a great story. So my husband's family is Dutch. So I've got a, I got a, I've got to hear about this, this term, but the, this, I'm going to adopt my terrain. I'm going to figure it out. I'm going to protect my people and even laying yourself off. The PPP was something that you know so many people, you know got online they started applying for and, and I love that you're able to say, I'm a wife, I'm a mother, I'm a business owner, I'm a woman who like, periodically would also like to shower and you know, get a workout in and you know, maybe get my hair done and all that stuff that we do, but to able to say, Okay, I'm gonna put everything on the shelf for a moment and I'm going to focus on protecting this family, these people. And there's been a lot of controversy in HR with people calling their staff a family. And I'm adamant that some people do become like family, as you said, you know, with Windows. I want to ask you just a couple of rapid fire questions. So we started this conversation for, everyone who drinks wine out there you better all give us a really great review. Because I'm curious about this. You said you're spending a lot of time dissecting wine drinkers versus beer drinkers. I wrote this down. And so what have you found out about this?

Inez Ribustello 36:10
Yeah, it's pretty fascinating to me, you know, my background is wine and the wine drinkers so loyal, you know, we, I used to get a lot of props for being able to sell a different wine to a table because they're like, they're never gonna go for anything except this. And yeah, I would have such a good time trying to turn them on to something that of course they liked. It was just getting them out of their box, right? Like, I'm not going to introduce dry Riesling to an oaky Chardonnay drinker. Know your audience, right? But like, I will introduce an oaky Chardonnay from Australia to a Napa oaky Chardonnay drinker, right? Anyway, they're just very loyal to the brand. And even more so loyal to the grape. Craft beer drinkers are just an anomaly, right? Like, hey, this is the best beer I've ever tasted. Check. I don't ever need to drink it again. Right? Like, I've tasted it, there's, I need to go and find the next thing. And that's tough for somebody who spends all of her day selling beer to bottle shops, restaurants, stores, you know. And it's tough and yet, it's fun because like, we need to be creating new beers. We have our flagships, which are the ones that people are their go to. But then we have our seasonals and our one offs that are equally important, because there is no such thing as a permanent tap in 2022, right? Like, everybody wants a different beer. I shouldn't say that. I haven't found somebody to give me a permanent. But yeah, just trying to figure out what that is in the mind of a wine drinker versus the mind of a craft beer drinker.

Susan Sly 38:11
It's so interesting, too, because I don't drink craft beer as you as I said before this show and I'm a loyal, California Pinot Noir. Could be Oregon, you know, could be Washington that's up from that part of the country. And no, don't suggest that I'm going to like a you know, like a Sangioveseor something else because I'm, or a Malbec especially, talk about tobacco. That isn't even hints of what tobacco leaves. That y'all is like, someone smoked a cigarette over the, while they were stomping the grapes. But the, I will go buy craft beers for my husband, and I will buy them based on the name because I don't know what I'm doing, right? So if I saw one that said pants drunk, you know I'm totally buying that and taking that home now. And there's a company that's originally a Canadian company called Tim Hortons. And so every year, Inez, they have this time called roll up the rim to win and then they have a snazzy commercial, it's like roll up the rim to win. And so people buy more coffee during this time, because they roll up the rim and they win little things. Like they could win a free coffee or they could win $500 rr they you know, whatever. So I bet if you did like flip the tap, to flip the top to win or whatever the case is, then that could keep a tap on for like 2022 and 2023.

Inez Ribustello 39:39
Yeah, I like that. I like that.

Susan Sly 39:43
So there you go, Girlfriend. It's like, it's all good. Inez and I, there's another part of the conversation and we'll have to do a second show because we were talking before the show too about women investing in women. And as an investor myseIf, you know, I do look at women led businesses and I always recommend to people disclaim this. You know, if you're going to get started with investing go in somewhere like a WeFunder where you're, you're investing small amounts of money, don't ever, you know, pull up money out of your retirement and things like that if you don't know how to gauge a good startup. But just very quickly, as we wrap up the show, like, what do you want to say about where we're at right now with women investing in women?

Inez Ribustello 40:30
Yeah, you know, most recently, I had a woman come in and invest in the brewery. And she's actually like you, Susan, she's a software developer, tech person. And she believes in our mission. And with that, she has been an invaluable thought partner, right? Like, and I do feel like women, they are able to give so much. Not just monetary, but like, support, right? And so as a woman, I was just talking to this young, young woman who's a biotech startup. And she said, they're asking the guy the questions he doesn't even know. And I said, I'm so sorry you know, this is your experience. And also, this is every woman's experience, like, I mean, I have predominantly male investors in the brewery, I shouldn't say that. I've been doing a really good job at like, changing that. But one of them, after the shareholder meeting, went up to someone and said, who was not involved in the brewery, What do you think? And fortunately, the guy's a friend of mine, he goes, Wow, you shouldn't be asking me, you should be asking Inez, right? And it's just, I know, we've come a long way. But we really have a long way. And the only way I see us breaking this, whatever it is, is for more women to intentionally invest in women-run companies. And I think the return is going to be greater.

Susan Sly 42:24
Well, the this, um, I'll do a just a reference plug for my own blog. I did an article with all the stats, Inez, and I don't have journalism degree, so forgive the writing. But I did the stats, and I'll, I'll get May to send you the link that show that women led companies actually outperform in profitability, earlier to revenue, all of these things. And so I'll make sure that you get that because it's, it gives you feel for the fodder and I know, like I've, I've been at, you know, speaking at events all year, and I'm the co founder and CO CEO, so equity partner in an AI company, and people say to one of my friends who works for a huge tech company, and we're at all these events together, like what's Susan's role there? And she's like, she's the CEO, you need to like-

Inez Ribustello 43:18
You run the show.

Susan Sly 43:21
Like, like a co CEO, by you know, like, which is working out awesome for us. So I have my work husband, my real husband, but it's, you know, I, to your point, when less than two and a half percent of women lead pitches to VCs are getting funded, one of the things I'm excited about is these women like companies as they're growing, and then they're exiting is that we get to take some of that money we're exiting with an invest in women led companies, which is awesome. Inez, okay, we are doing another show, where we're going to have some wine. It would be really funny if I drink craft beer, but I won't drink it. So it won't be as fun. But we're going to do another show where we drink wine and talk about wine, which has nothing to do with entrepreneurship. But a lot of my entrepreneur friends do drink wine. So that's how I'm gonna tie it in. But anyway, I just want to thank you so much for being here. You're absolutely amazing. And I just want to acknowledge your heart and your tenacity. So thank you, Inez, for being on the show.

Inez Ribustello 44:28
Thank you so much for having me, Susan, this was great.

Susan Sly 44:31
Well thank you. So for everyone, if the show has been helpful, share on social, tag us on social go to Inez, I will pronounce this correctly. I'm going to spell it, So it's And follow Inez on social, checkout what she's doing. Go to the show notes. We'll put the link to the brewery. You all need to go there and you all need to test the craft beers and especially the pants drunk one because I think that's awesome. And go and you can find her book,Life after Windows, and I highly recommend that you do read it, especially if you are navigating trauma right now in your life, if you're going through some entrepreneurial hardship, because you definitely want to learn from someone who has walked those, the you know, that path before. So Inez, thanks so much for being here.

Inez Ribustello 45:22
Thank you so much.

Susan Sly 45:23
All right, everyone. So with that this has been another episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. I hope that you go rock your day. God bless, and I will see you in the next episode.

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Susan Sly

Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is considered a thought leader in AI, award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of four and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

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