“I think that the world is searching for meaning right now, meaning makes everything matter, and so why not find meaning at the bottom of your wine glass?!”
London Real got it so right 4 years ago when it said it wants to take us on a journey through the lives of others, so that we can be inspired to embark on one of our own.
All of us in the community are constantly learning that the potential for reinvention and industry disruption is all around us. So in this amazing London Real Community, I get the grand job of interviewing an Academy member each week to show some of the things happening in your journeys.
As a feature in my blog this week, I interviewed Academy member Jen Feazelle on why she is ready to turn assumptions and conventions upside down and rebuild her newly purchased winery in ways that create new value.
I can honestly say, I am so excited to share this unique story with you because Jen has truly achieved an art for smashing together ideas. She is pushing the boundaries of conventional knowledge in ways that put together things that you would never think of as going together, such as biodynamics, sustainability, positive vibration, sacred ritual – all into winery!
I hope that this interview will provide you with a powerful insight into a mindset and thought process that can inspire you with your own idea creation. For me, the key is adding your own unique perspective of life onto anything you choose to do. What’s yours?
Member Interview with Jen Feazelle
Tell us about yourself
“I’m just a chick with a dream, trying to earn my share of oxygen! I pray like a saint and I curse like a sailor. I delve deep into all things spiritual – and for the last three years, I have studied shamanism as my primary source of nourishment. Basically, what that means is that I connect to the spiritual realm using meditation or other forms of altered consciousness and find balance and harmony within myself which then reflects to others and my community. I am a leader in the area of Technology/Operations at a Fortune 100 company and I most recently took a leap of faith in myself and purchased a winery. I don’t want to identify myself as my profession, but I do spend a lot of time and energy at both my corporate job and my business. I try to bring my authentic self to both, so they are really an extension of me. At the core of it all, I am a soul masquerading as a human trying to live my truth.”
Why did you start a winery?
“I bought a working winery just over a year ago. This is probably one of the scariest things I have ever done. I have always dreamed of owning a business, but this is more than Jen owning a business and more than a “winery.” It is the place that the culmination of all my dreams can happen. I can do vision quests and dog camps and yoga retreats and events for the mind, body and the spirit, and you can do it all while drinking vino! *Win-Win.*The top 5 questions that I get asked about why I started a winery are:”
- “Oh, you and your husband bought a winery?” A: Um, no I’m not married….
- “Oh, so you and a partner bought a winery?” A: Um, no there is no partner… just me. I decided that if I couldn’t do it on my own, I wasn’t going to do it.
- “Do you have experience owning a winery?” A: Um, no……this would be my first one…… (would someone actually do this twice???!!)
- “Oh, wow so you just woke up one day and decided to buy a winery?” A: Um, no….. not exactly….*why on earth would one assume that I just woke up one day and decide to do this???** but kind of, “Yes I just woke up one day and decided to buy a winery” … OR…. “I have been thinking and dreaming and manifesting my entire life for this moment and I finally strapped on a pair and did it….”
- “How did you get the money to do that?” “Are you independently wealthy?” A: Um, no… *really, are you asking me this question, it is none of your fucking business*….”No, I have worked my ass off since I was 14 years old, bought my house when I was 24 and became debt free and mortgage free at 40. Then… I just put everything I had into buying this business! It is an investment in my dreams…”
Is the grape ripe for disruption?
“I feel called to completely disrupt the industry by doing cool new exciting things with wine. I will be using wildflowers and herbs to make wines that are more like tonics or elixirs! So, in some cases I would not even use grapes. Instead I would use dandelion, rosehip, hibiscus, lavender, etc. I am getting ready to launch my first product that will introduce an entire new segment in the beverage industry! I am so excited! I want to use biodynamic and sustainable practices both in winemaking and the business itself. I have been dabbling with sound therapy (528 hz and solfeggio frequencies piped into my wine room) and using words of positive vibration on the tanks and barrels inspired by Masaru Emoto, as well as, doing sacred rituals when I plant trees and do other things on the land (I think I kind of scared the dudes who were planting them when I whipped out my Vogel crystal… heehee). The organic part is a tad difficult in Virginia, where I live because of the climate. Grape Vines are very susceptible to fungus in this area. I am investigating how to use hydroponics to help “hack” the growing process.”
What is the Wine Club for the Soul?
“In addition to merely producing and selling wine, I have a Wine Club for the Soul. For now, it consists of a seven week Chakra clearing wine package. We go week by week focusing from the Root Chakra up. It includes yoga, essential oils, a wine glass, a bottle of wine which has been prayed on and charged with positive intent, and a wine meditation that are all related to the chakras. Writing and leading people through the wine meditation is my favourite part. This is not an original idea; I took inspiration from Thich Nhat Hahn. He is a Buddhist monk exiled from Vietnam who lives in France and has spent his life writing about and promoting peace and his Tea Cup Meditation. In my wine meditations, I focus on connecting to sweet Mother Earth, Pachamama, and seeing the roots of the grapevine being planted, giving thanks to her and the soil, visualising all the pieces that had to happen to lead to those vines producing fruit, being in gratitude to the Sun, the Moon, the Stars and the spirit of the people who tended the vines. I find that connecting first to the ancestry of the wine and honouring the sacredness of the process helps people connect to wine as more than just a drink. Now that I own a winery, I see it as more than a commodity! I know the blood, sweat and tears that goes into creating just one bottle of wine! I think that the world is searching for meaning right now, “meaning makes everything matter” and so why not find meaning at the bottom of your wine glass?”
Below is Jen’s winemaking room and equipment at Seven Doors Winery, which is the name of her winery. It is based on the seven chakras. The winery is a place that Jen will be holding yoga classes and meditation. The point is, it is as much a mind, body and spirit retreat place as it is a winery.
What terrifies and excites you?
“Terrifies: Well, as far as my business is concerned – the terrifying parts are Failing, (I know I should say I’m like Peter Sage and I love to fail and I can’t wait to do it because that would just give me a reason to start over and do something else amazing, but that would be a complete lie. I am fearless with certain things in my life, but not my ideas, inventions, dreams, business. I lived the first 40 years of my life doing what I was supposed to do. What my mother would define as successful, what most people would define as successful and safe, so the failing part would prove that I “should” have stayed that course and that I made a mistake etc, which is another thing that terrifies me. But, I am getting better at making mistakes and moving through them. I made some grave mistakes in this business deal, BIG TIME and instead of moving through them quickly, I allowed them to halt my progress. I have learned a great deal this way! Sometimes you have to live through it to really “know” it. I think that is what leads to actual “wisdom.” Another thing that has terrified me is trying to do this alone and without any experience or knowledge. It is scary sometimes to wake up and be the only one to carry out a task or responsibility and have nobody to ask for help or depend on or share in the decision process or the risk or the success. There have been many days in the last year that I woke up and had no idea how I was going to physically, emotionally or intellectually make it through that day and I just had to do it. I just had to put one step in front of the other. I said to myself, just do it, keep moving DO NOT STOP. DO NOT STOP. Find A Way! Those were tough times, it brings a tear to my eyes to think how scared I was and how I am through some of that now. Whew, takes my breath away a little.” So, here are a couple of other things that terrify me in life… and how I am affected by fear is this way mostly: Physical fear – I fight! Threat of emotional fear: I flight! Irrational fear or ego based shadow fear: I freeze!”
- Checking my mail – (I would rather be slapped in the face than check my mail or open it when I actually do check it….yes, I know this is weird but it is the truth! Living with and overcoming this irrational fear helps me to find compassion for others with fears… fear is a funny, funny thing)
- Hurting people – (I would rather be hurt than hurt others…. I have recently experienced a time where I feel I (unintentionally, of course) created pain for other people. This stopped me in my tracks and I retreated like a caged animal…I went through fight, flight AND freeze in this process and it created a deep hole for me to climb out of… that I am just now regaining a sense of resolve about. I gained a lot of insight about myself and my thoughts, my shadows and my ego.
“What excites me regarding my business is kind of the alter ego of those things that terrify me. Success, feeling I am living in my true power and doing something amazing that helps other people and the world. Those things are why I took this plunge and what ignites the fire within me and keeps me going on those days that I feel like giving up. I am not a quitter. I may not start everything I want to in the way that I want to start, but I sure as hell am not a quitter. I will go down in flames, but I will go down fighting like a mother fucker.”
How do you find balance beyond the 9 to 5?
“I balance my time and space between Corporate America and Entrepreneurship. I work a full time job at a Fortune 100 company. I have been a leader in Operations for an insurance company for 11 years and then on the weekends and most nights, I am nurturing my new business. For one solid year, I worked every single day without one day off. This past October I reached my one year anniversary at the winery and I decided I needed to work smarter not harder. I needed to be as sustainable with my own time and energy as I intend to be with my winery and business practices, so I shifted my perspective and started “heavily editing” my life of all things that were not either: 1) making money 2) directly attributing to my short or long term success. This has been liberating and has also given me some much needed balance.”
Name your 3 life lessons so far…
- “When you think you’ve arrived, that is your clear sign that you haven’t. Personal growth is not a ladder… it is not linear… it is like everything else in nature… it is organic and more like a spiral. So, think of growth from the perspective that you learn and you move through and then you will come back around. A circle would mean you come back to the same place, a spiral is more like you come around but it is on more of a continuum. In order to approach life from the beginner’s mind and to stay humble in the process you acknowledge that while you are making progress. “Progress” is relative. Everything is relative. What you think is “good” now, may not be “good” later.”
- “I allowed myself to be intimidated by other people who supposedly “knew” more than I did about business, etc. I learned that by not allowing my true voice or thoughts to come through because I didn’t want to appear naïve, that these people didn’t know as much as I had given them credit! NEVER UNDERESTIMATE MYSELF! If you underestimate yourself, others will underestimate you. It is a mirror reflecting back at you always.”
- “I see life only through the filter in which I see myself. When I see the open doors and the best in people, it is because I am living in light. When I see the doors closing and the worst in others, it is because I am living in shadow. The insight alone, however, is not enough to change – it is a continual practice.”
What is your ultimate goal in life?
“I define success some days as living my convictions even when “nobody would know” if I didn’t. I would know. And doesn’t my opinion of myself matter? Some days, I wake up and my prayer is to not become jaded with the world and not lose my trust in others, DESPITE the bullshit that happens to me (being robbed, being lied to, being taken advantage of…) because I truly know deep down that I manifest and create everything. It is easy to see the world as a great place when you are safe and sound and everything is going your way. It is not always easy to stay with this when you are truly tested by shitty ass things that happen. That is where my true growth comes from. It isn’t easy, and sometimes it takes me longer to get there… but my goal is to always come back to that place of love, trust and peace.”
What feature should we look for in the community?
“It is the focus on vulnerability and support of others in the tribe. This is such an important part of stepping out on a skinny branch, knowing there are others who have done it, are doing it, and will encourage you when you stumble. It is different than hearing from other people who don’t give a shit about living the best life they can live. I appreciate the culture so much!”
What motto do you live by?
“Living my life as a grand experiment… Well, that is from a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” I am trying to approach it all as a sort of class/experiment and test. This helps me through the tough times to keep perspective and not take any of it too seriously.”
Jen’s current challenges are moving through fear to launch her big ideas and building a team to scale her business. If you can help support, advise or guide Jen, then please leave a comment below this post or message her here.
Join us for:
- Our Tribe Run in Central London
- The Edinburgh Meetup
- A Focus Group at the London Real Studio
- Focus Group: Live Interactive Stream
- An Author Hangout
- The London Real Academy Summit
Until next week’s Tribe Talk, have a great week, and if you’d like to get in touch with me, message me @noorahnaker – I’d love to hear from you!