Santa Cruz SBDC

Margins Wine

“My business would not be where it is right now without the SBDC and Larry Hebert’s mentorship.”

All Client Stories

Megan Bell didn’t always know she wanted to start her own business, but after experiencing the poor labour conditions in wine production, she took it upon herself to change the culture and set new standards for the wine industry to create a safe place for women and marginalised communities.

Working multiple jobs at the same time, Megan knew she needed to grow her business to sustain herself and reach higher profit margins. To do so, Megan worked with advisor Larry Hebert in implementing a cost escalation strategy to ensure steady profit percentages to counteract the recent sharp price increase.

After further analysis, Megan realised it was crucial to determine what categories sold the best to avoid excess wines that could tie up dollars. Knowing how many items per key category she needed would allow her to improve her investment and generate revenue faster based on a quicker turnover. Larry Hebert suggested that Megan implemented an OTB(Open To Buy) template to manage inventory, ensure greater turnover of product, increased cash flow and higher profits.

Megan also envisioned opening a taste room where she could connect and build strong ties with other women-owned wineries. In order to obtain a loan for the space’s reconstruction, Larry provided guidance on the narrative and type of loan to pursue. As a result, Megan was able to get access to additional funding to afford construction expenses.

Additionally, Megan’s journey with the SBDC included reviewing her forecasting model and projected cash flows and any profit and losses for 2022 and 2023. To do so, Larry made a spreadsheet for the balance forecasting and helped create a better picture of where the business stood and what strategies should be implemented to achieve increased cash and profits.

Megan is confident the mentorship from Larry has shifted the way she organises and thinks about her business and herself as an entrepreneur. Because only 4% of wineries in California are owned by women, mostly due to the lack of access to funding, having someone like Larry Hebert on her side was very helpful. After being consistently ignored, Megan was able to connect with the right people as Larry vouched for her.

Megan has been working hard to expand her wine business, and her efforts are paying off. She recently hired more staff to help manage the increased demand for her products, and her sales have been steadily increasing. With her dedication and strategic planning, Megan has been able to position her business for success and growth. Her commitment to providing high-quality wines and excellent customer service has earned her a loyal following that positioned her business for continued success in the future.

Megan expects to open a taste room in the Westside of Santa Cruz in the summer of 2023 to integrate herself better into the community. In the long term, she hopes that Margin Wines will allow her to change the status quo in the wine industry to guarantee that workers get paid a living wage for their skills and historically marginalised groups are treated fairly.