She hopes the show will help her company Esrever Wines.
Being an entrepreneur takes a certain level of guts. Discovery wanted to capture that gumption by following six start-up businesses and provide them with guidance from three successful business folks in a show called “I Quit!” which debuted last week.
Jasmine Dunn of Dacula, as part of a three-woman team who owns a wine company, Esrever, will be introduced on tonight’s episode at 9 p.m.
Dunn said they were filmed last year from February to October, long before the pandemic began. What they didn’t know: the producers bestowed $100,000 to the most promising of the businesses at the end of the season.
The three elementary-school friends had been fiddling with the idea of wine for many years. In 2017, they finally decided to take it seriously, finding a California vineyard and introducing the wine in 2018, which they describe as a “crisp, sparkling white wine blend of Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc.” The “I Quit!” cameras showed up soon after their launch.
“We want to quit our jobs,” said Dunn during the opening episode, since all three still had regular 9-to-5 jobs while properly echoing the title of the show. “If we continue to fear things, we will never be able to get to the next stage in our business. We have to let go and take a leap of faith.” Dunn is a senior financial analyst.
And as three Black women in a spirits and wine business that is dominated by white men, they know they had both a challenge and an opportunity.
“I want my family to know it’s not just a man’s world,” Dunn said. “It’s not a white man’s world. We can do this too!”
In the episode that airs tonight, branding expert Tricia Clarke-Stone, who is also a Black female, bonds with the three women, providing them encouragement and constructive criticism. Dunn’s partners — CEO Ashanti Middleton and chief brand officer Tyshemia Ladons — both live in Queens. Dunn had moved from Queens to metro Atlanta seven years ago, needing a change of scenery. Until the pandemic, she had flown up to New York regularly as chief operating officer.
Tricia Clarke-Stone at her meeting with Esrever Wines
Credit: Discovery Channel
Credit: Discovery Channel
Clarke-Stone, in an interview, said she thinks the women had a great product but needed to focus on branding and distribution.
She said she helped the women figure out their new roles and responsibilities in the business and what each person’s “superpowers” are.
“The dynamics of business are so different from friendship,” she said. “Now you’re playing hardball, and people have to be held accountable. They all have to be on the same page, and their vision has to be in alignment.”
As Dunn noted, “Even when we don’t want to be friends, we have to be business partners. We have had to learn to separate the two.”
Clarke-Stone said the women also need to believe in themselves: “Confidence breeds confidence, and if you put in that time, you start to see the benefit of that.”
Dunn won’t say whether she has actually quit her regular job yet. But she said the calculus is challenging as a single mom with two children and a new home in Dacula.
She hopes viewers will come away feeling empowered even as they watch the company’s trials and tribulations. “It’s not going to be pretty,” Dunn said. “Nobody is going to hand it to you. You have to go out and get it and keep evolving. The pandemic stopped us. We hit a brick wall. Thank God we are in a recession-proof industry. People still want to get their drink on.”
Clarke-Stone said the wine business is tough to break into, and you have to find ways to get people to sample the wine in restaurants and bars, then liquor stores. “You have to do a lot to connect with a potential customer and sell that lifestyle,” she said. “There is a huge learning curve. It requires a lot of diligence.”
“It’s all about making people feel about you,” she added. “In the wine business, you have to make that connection.”
“I Quit!” 9 p.m. Tuesdays on Discovery
About the Author
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years.