Barefoot Wine co-founders Bonnie Harvey and Michael Houlihan are headed to Asheville to share the secrets of their ultra-successful alcohol brand. UNC Asheville’s Family Business Forum will host the couple for two talks on Thursday, March 19 and Friday, March 20.
Thursday’s free presentation, “How to Build a Number One Brand,” sees the two explaining how they built “a winning brand with little money and zero wine industry experience by employing innovative ideas, creating new markets and strategic alliances, and pioneering ‘worthy cause marketing’ and performance-based compensation.”
“Frankly, we discovered the power of worthy cause marketing almost by accident, but once we did, our company really took off,” says Houlihan. “We gave away wine at fundraising events, we worked festivals, we got out into the community and talked about causes we were passionate about and Barefoot wine in the same breath. It was very much a grassroots effort, and because we worked hard, had fun, and believed in what we were doing, it paid off.”
The talk takes place at UNCA’s Humanities Lecture Hall from 7-9 p.m., and the first 150 attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the couple’s New York Times bestseller, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, according to a post by UNCA. Click here to complete the required registration.
On Friday, the couple tackles the often daunting prospect of going into business with one’s significant other, sharing the “charms and challenges of working together” along with seven critical tips for long-term success as a team. “Are You Married to Your Spouse, Your Business or Both?” — free for Family Business Forum members and $80 for guests — takes place in Sherrill Center’s Mountain View Room from 8-10 a.m.
Harvey and Houlihan had no idea they were concocting what would become a globally distributed when they began their venture in a rented farmhouse laundry room in the late ’80s. Bootstrapping their way to the top, however, certainly paid off for the couple, who sold Barefoot Wine to E&J Gallo in 2005 and watched their product became the largest bottled wine brand in the world. They now consult for businesses of all sizes and also write and regularly host presentations to share their strategies for success.
Entrepreneurial Ashevilleans or those with a general curiosity about the Barefoot story can learn more about the upcoming events by visiting UNCA’s event page or by contacting Cindy Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 232-5091.