By Chris Olsen
Fueled by Purpose is the nonprofit sister company to My Founder Story and is dedicated to providing resources to female-identifying founders. Since 2018, more than $200,000 in grants and services have been donated to women business owners. To learn more and apply, visit our grants page.
Cassandra Schaeg spent the first two decades of her career working in social services. For 10 of those years she worked with Indigenous groups on reservations in California. Part of that work included providing education, employment and entrepreneurial resources to support the success of the individuals and families in those communities. She learned a lot about the power of investing in people. And eventually, she realized she was ready to invest in herself and her community.
Cassandra grew up in Temecula and watched it evolve into a wine destination. After purchasing a home and settling in Escondido, she envisioned the same for her new city. Her idea was to create a venue that would make tasting and learning about wine and beer simple and fun, while at the same time providing opportunities for the community to connect and share knowledge. As a Black woman, she also wanted to use her business as a vehicle for elevating women and minorities who are vastly underrepresented in the wine and spirits industry. These groups represent only 4 percent and less than 1 percent of alcoholic beverage brands, respectively.
In 2016, Cassandra brought her vision to life and opened the doors to her tasting room, SIP Wine and Beer. SIP offers the largest selection of wine in California from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) winemakers. From the start, Cassandra made it a priority to research brands created by women and minorities. Over time, she’s connected with many in the business and continues to be intentional about seeking out trailblazers who are disrupting and revolutionizing the wine and beer industry.
Since the pandemic has forced many restaurants and bars to change the way they’re doing business, Cassandra has found a way to serve and stay connected with the community she’s created. Currently she’s selling her wine via curbside pickup, and she hosts virtual tasting events. She’s had the opportunity to feature boutique brands and standout makers, including Tara Gomez, the only Native American female winemaker in the country.
As for the future of SIP, Cassandra plans to continue using her business to invest in herself and others. “I envision the wine and beer industry transforming into a space where women are no longer the minority and people of color are no longer an anomaly,” she said. She’ll use the Fueled by Purpose micro grant to support SIP’s marketing efforts.
To learn more about Cassandra’s business, visit SIPWineAndBeer.com.
To learn more about and apply for a Fueled by Purpose micro grant, visit our grants page.
Photo: SIP Wine and Beer
About the author: Chris Olsen is a radio veteran turned communications consultant, educator and author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose”. Through her work as a consultant partnering with startups, Chris realized her WHY—to support women-owned businesses in confidently communicating their purpose and impact, setting them up for entrepreneurial success. She created My Founder Story as a platform for doing so.