We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Evans and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
If I can put a smile on someone’s face or make them feel seen and heard, I’m happy. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like wine has much to do with helping others, but there is so much community around wine. Wine is a celebratory gift to celebrate big milestones- a new house, a promotion, anniversaries, etc. It’s also what we take to a friend who is having a rough time to let them know we’re thinking of them. Wine brings people together. When someone messages me to say their friend loved a wine accessory they ordered from The Sugar Vine, or that I helped them confidently choose a bottle of wine, it means the world to me because I got to be a small part of making them happy.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
The Sugar Vine is all about bringing joy to others, celebrating friendship, and creating community through wine. We’re serious about wine but we love to have fun with it and want everyone else to have fun, too. We’re not afraid to try unusual wine and food pairings, especially desserts. We’ve gotten some flak for that, but there are some seriously good wine and dessert pairings out there; they just take some effort to find. Our number one goal is to offer wine education in a fun, approachable, easy to digest way. We publish articles weekly about different topics in wine. Some are more serious, like our introduction to wine tasting series or focused pieces on different varietals or wine regions. Others are more lighthearted, like our pieces on wine movies or cookie and wine pairings. We try to strike a balance with these pieces and really listen to what our readers want to know. In the shop, we carry products that are unique ways to express your love of wine and enhance that love. We make an effort to source from artisans directly whenever possible to support their work and bring you items that you can’t find everywhere. I don’t think starting a business is ever easy, but I definitely didn’t pick the best time for it. I left my full-time job and started the The Sugar Vine’s shop in November 2019, so I had just a few months of “normal” before COVID shutdowns began. That definitely amplified the usual concerns of any business owner because there was so much uncertainty on every level and I really wanted to make sure we were being as safe as possible. It also set us back in terms of some of the things we wanted to accomplish last year. We’re focusing on implementing those plans this year as much as possible while being safe. Anytime we have to make a big decision, our number one focus is on what’s best for the community. As long as we keep our focus on the people, the right decision is easier to make.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
It’s always so hard to narrow that down because the Houston area has so much to do. Old Town Spring is at the top of my list. I love wandering around the shops and seeing what’s new. We’ll have to get some coffee and pastries at The Liquid Bean- their turnovers make me swoon. We’ll also sit and chat for awhile at Old Town Spring Tasting Room. They focus more on Texas wines and it has such a great, relaxed atmosphere. For dinner one night we’ll go by Cru Food & Wine Bar in The Woodlands. They have a great wine list, delicious food, and really knowledgeable employees. We’ll also walk around Market Street and see if they’re doing one of their concert series and wander around the lake. I love that everything is so close right there and something is always going on. One day will have to be devoted to Galveston. The beach isn’t the prettiest in the world but it’s ours and it’s always fun to go down there and there’s so much to do- Moody Gardens, walking along the Seawall, checking out the stores along The Strand, eating fresh fish at Fisherman’s Wharf.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family makes me feel like I can conquer the world. When I was maybe 8 years old I entered a contest for a trip to Disney World and I asked my mom if she thought I would win. She said if I really believed deep down that I could do it, then I would. I didn’t win the trip but that lesson has always stuck with me and helped me stay focused on my goals even when things are hard. Just before my dad passed away, he told me not to let fear hold me back. That advice is what gave me the courage to start The Sugar Vine and it’s in the back of my head every time I have to make a big decision. My siblings are my biggest cheerleaders. I’m always surprised and humbled by the amount of faith they have in me. Their confidence that I can do anything pushes me when I want to quit.