3 Ways To Create A Salon That Caters To Those With Natural Hair


Could you imagine walking into just any salon off the street without an appointment to get your hair done as someone with textured hair? For most of us, the answer is probably no. 

You already know as someone with natural hair that chances are, most stylists at salons don’t know how to care for your hair. Being turned away by a receptionist isn’t something anyone wants or should have to experience. So you would think that by now, cosmetology schools and hair salon owners properly trained all hairstylists to style textured hair—which 65% of the U.S. population has, by the way. 

natural hair

Unfortunately, while salons continue to exclude those of us with kinky, coily, or curly hair from their list of services, they miss out on serving a significant portion of their communities. It’s past time that licensed professionals stopped treating textured hair as a special interest and, instead, more like an expected area of expertise.

And this change can start from the top down with hair salon owners to create a more textured hair inclusive experience for the millions of women who’d just like to get their hair done. 

Train new stylists the right way. 

When hairstylists join a new salon team, they typically must complete additional training programs designed by the salon owner. Clearly, most training programs include little emphasis on natural hair, but salon owners can change that. Plus, that training doesn’t have to be limited to just the stylists, either. 

Owners should train their receptionists, assistants, and anyone who comes into contact with clients on natural hair services and verbiage for consultations. Though cosmetology school education is limited when it comes to textured hair, hair salon owners can make up for it by ensuring their trainees have adequate practice with models with curly hair types. 

natural hair

Bring in the experts. 

If hair salon owners know little about natural hair themselves, this doesn’t have to be the reason they don’t train stylists to be better. Many professional stylists provide workshops and textured hair academies to teach students how to style natural hair, so call in backup.

Virtual education has blown up recently, too, because of in-person restrictions. So it’s definitely worth it for salon owners to discover easily accessible online programs on textured hair to help set their salon up for success. 

natural hair

Use your voices. 

If something’s wrong with the standard cosmetology school curriculum and exam (there is), then hair salon owners and stylists alike can rally to fix the problem. They can sign petitions and mandates that advocate for states and cosmetology schools to update their exams and curriculum to include texture hair education. 

Hair salon owners should feel pressure to own up to their responsibility of creating more diverse and inclusive spaces for women with all hair types to receive quality service.

In 2021, people with natural or textured hair shouldn’t have to search high and low to find an experienced stylist—understanding and knowing how to do textured hair should just be the norm.


Written by Reese Williams

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Online Reputation Management: What is it and Why Might Your Business Need It?


A business’s reputation used to be what they said about themselves in their advertising and the reach their customers had via word of mouth.

Now, consumers are pushing out a company’s reputation and image collectively by providing real-time feedback online through review sites, social media, forums, and other channels.

Basically, if it is an online source and a consumer can say something about a business on it, then it is a channel where your business’s reputation should be managed.

online reputation management

Digital marketing and online reputation management for businesses

Online reputation management is a part of a greater digital marketing strategy that works alongside review management, business listings, paid search/ads, social media management, and SEO to help your business stay competitive and relevant online.

While your business should be managing each of these segments of digital marketing to maintain your online presence and (consequently) offline reputation, many businesses are not. They really should: four in five consumers surveyed use search engines to find local information from multiple devices to find store address, business hours, product availability and directions.

Online reputation management: your business has options

Your business’s reputation can be affected at anytime on just about any source across the web. You can use products (SaaS), services (outsource services), or people (outsource or hire a digital marketer) to cut down on your reputation management time expenditure. Even if your business tracks and constantly checks on social media, there may be sources that your business is unaware of such as a new review site from a listing that your business never knew that existed.

Your business should weigh the pros and cons of conducting online reputation management in-house or outsourcing, but there are best practices when responding to reviews that your business should be aware of. Maintaining your business’s online presence is one of the most worthwhile services a digital agency or local media company can provide your business and is one of the most worthwhile services you can invest in.

online reputation management

Why your business’s online reputation matters

An online reputation needs to be backed by reviews and ratings by consumers. Without them, there would be no reputation to manage and quite frankly, it would appear as if no one ever visited the business.

Ready or not, consumers are talking about your business

Whether a business chooses to manage its reputation online or not, consumers are talking about their favorite and not-so-favorite businesses. If a business simply ignores its reputation online, the consequences can be detrimental.

Unmanaged negative responses can create an angry mob mentality and bad word of mouth spreads like wildfire. While a business may not realize how exactly one instance can affect its online reputation, it is possible that only one negative post on a highly ranked site can actually be what shows up near the top of a search results page when a consumer searches for that business’s name.

Consumers Control the Conversation and Everyone’s Feedback Matters
Social media is a two-way conversation — businesses can no longer broadcast the message they want people to see. There is a democratic nature to social, with brands, consumers and everyone having an equal voice in a shared space. Customers can rave about a business or let everyone know they had a terrible experience.

Social networks have dramatically changed the way businesses communicate. Today, consumers can converse with brands and vice versa as if they were talking to a friend. As a result, businesses have had to become more personable than simply a business entity and manage their social presence in a manner that reflects as such.

Reputation drives conversion

What people see online matters. Approximately 74% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations—this is a huge shift in thinking that has become more prominent as time goes on. This trust in reviews translates to dollars, as customers put their money where their trust is. A Harvard Business School study found that a restaurant that sees a one star increase on Yelp will see revenues increase anywhere from five to nine percent.

As discussed previously, many businesses find that cultivating their digital profile on their own is too time consuming. There are reputation monitoring tools that make keeping up with customers way easier, saving time and money. Whatever your business does, it is essential that you are not perceived to be ignoring your customers online. The worst thing your business can do is appear unresponsive.

online reputation management

What makes a good online reputation?

Being present (listed online) and having a good reputation (reviews and reputation management) go hand in hand. Not being listed on a reference site customers use is just as bad as having bad reviews on that site. Building a consistent online presence and a positive reputation is important for both consumers and search engines. Some of the most important aspects of the online footprint include:

  • number of business listings
  • consistency of business listing information (name, address, phone)
  • overall sentiment in reviews
  • frequency or current velocity of new reviews
  • overall volume of reviews
  • social activity and engagement (especially with reviewers)

Customers now view social recommendations and reviews as more authentic, expecting reviews to be a mirror of the actual customer experience that they would experience themselves.

This means that maintaining your business’s online reputation is gaining importance as each review is a perceived snippet of what your potential customer expects to experience.

Online reputation management: the main sell

According to Google, 9 out of 10 local searches lead to action, with more than 50% leading to sales. If businesses have a good web presence, customers will go to them rather than the competitor. Once they’re in the store, 79% of customers use their smartphones inside to look at reviews or compare prices and 74% of them end up making a purchase.

Those numbers alone make the opportunity clear: online reputation management is essential for your business to get consumers in the door to make the sale.

If you would like to find out how we can help you manage your online reputation, email us at


Tony O. Lawson

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Intro to Cryptocurrency Lending: What is it and How does it work?


Cryptocurrencies have now been around for many years and have gained a lot of mainstream attention. The adoption rate of cryptos is so large that this industry is expected to reach $2.2 billion by 2026. There are many investment options in the crypto space for you to look into if you so desire.

Cryptocurrency lending, also known as “crypto lending”, is quickly becoming a go-to alternative for investors frustrated with minuscule yields from banks savings accounts.

Crypto lending may be a new concept for you but fear not! In this article, you will learn all you need to know about cryptocurrency lending.

So, let’s dive in!

What is Crypto lending?

Crypto lending allows investors to earn interest on their assets without actually selling them. An investor lends his cryptos to a borrower and earns dividends in return. The lender remains the sole owner of his assets. The interest rate ranges between 4% to 17% yearly.

On the other hand, a borrower has to offer collateral to get a crypto loan. He retains the ownership of his collateral but cannot use it until he pays back the entire loan amount by the end of the lending period.

How does Crypto Lending work?

Crypto lending involves lenders, borrowers, and a third-party i-e lending platform. Crypto lending consists of the following steps.

  • A borrower goes to a crypto lending platform and requests a crypto loan.
  • Upon approval of the loan by the platform, the borrower has to attach collateral.
  • A lender transfers the loan amount to the borrower through the lending platform.
  • A borrower has to pay back the entire loan amount within the loan period to get back his collateral.
  • If the borrower could not pay the loan amount, the lender can liquidate the borrower’s collateral to cover the losses.

Pros and Cons of Crypto Lending

Crypto lending has some pros and cons, which are mentioned below.


  • Crypto loans are easily accessible. Anyone can get a crypto loan with or without a credit score.
  • Crypto loans are faster. It takes only a few hours to receive funds after approval.


  • Some lending platforms have minimum borrowing requirements that you must have to get a loan. The requirements can be sometimes very high, causing barriers for some.
  • If you fail to pay the loan amount within the specified period, the platform will liquidate your collateral, and you will end up losing whatever you put up.

Top Crypto Lending Platforms

The following are few leading crypto lending platforms.

  • Celsius
  • Binance
  • CoinLoan
  • BlockFi


Crypto lending is different from traditional bank lending in many ways. It has many benefits but comes along with risks as well. Therefore, you need to be very careful when you start crypto lending.

Always choose a well-reputed lending platform and make sure how much interest rate you will earn, or you will have to pay and how much collateral is required to secure a crypto loan.

Crypto lending is rewarding but risky at the same time. Therefore, always do your own research and keep educating yourself.

Presented by CryptoShare, a lending platform that allows people to lend and borrow money without banks or credit checks.

Cryptocurrency lending

Intro to Blockchain: How it can be used in Everyday Life


Blockchain technology is one of the exciting developments of this century, having great potential to revolutionize many industrial sectors. But the question arises: What is blockchain technology, and how can it be used in our everyday lives?

Keep reading, and let’s find out!

What is blockchain technology?

In simple words, blockchain is a combination of two words; “block” and “chain.” It is a system of storing information such as digital transactions in a way that cannot be changed. The Block stores the information and the Chain is the record of the Blocks. It is Blocks of information that sit on a chain also known as a Digital Ledger.

Think of Blockchain as a type of advanced database that captures, records, and replicates data to make sure it is accurate.

Decentralization, transparency, immutability, and no third-party involvement are the main pillars of blockchain technology, and most of the blockchain projects are built around these core properties.

Applications of blockchain technology in everyday life

Blockchain technology is widely used in our daily life. Some of the examples are given below.

Digital Identity

The internet has become a part of our everyday lives, and today digital security is the primary concern because hacking is common.

Blockchain technology can help in this situation because of its potential to track and manage digital identities. It can not only store information securely but manages everything in one place, reducing the overall expenses.


The Healthcare sector has tons of information such as patient records. It is not easy to manually handle this considerable amount of data. Although the existing digital system is efficient, blockchain technology can make it more secure and easily accessible by combining different databases, comparatively saving a lot of time.

Digital voting

Transparent voting is essential for a successful democracy. Blockchain technology can help organize a transparent, reduced-cost, online voting system while ensuring voters’ privacy.

In 2014, Liberal Alliance in Denmark was the first organization that used Blockchain technology for voting.

Construction Industry

Blockchain-based smart contracts can be used in the construction industry. Using these contracts, involving parties in the project set their rules and regulations and work accordingly. Each milestone is appropriately recorded, and payments are released accordingly.

If any of the conditions are not met, the system will act according to predetermined terms. In this way, the entire system works in a manageable manner, where everyone involved in the project has access to the information and is accountable.

Blockchain can significantly improve the efficiency of the entire construction industry, reducing the chances of disputes.

Government Sector

Government databases store the information of the entire country and can be a perfect target for hackers. It is challenging for the current system to manage this large amount of data.

Blockchain technology can significantly mitigate the risks by ensuring more transparency, immutability, and accessibility. Governments can trace back any transaction to ensure there is no corruption in the system.


There are many other examples of blockchain technology implementation in various sectors such as the food industry, retail industry, financial services, real estate, etc.

Record keeping is the biggest concern in most sectors, and blockchain technology is the best solution that ensures speed, low cost, streamlines, and easy access within the network.

Many industries are warmly embracing blockchain technology, while some are still reluctant. But the truth is, blockchain technology is here to stay!

Presented by CryptoShare, a peer-to-peer lending platform that allows you to lend and borrow money without banks or credit checks.



How an Autistic Child Inspired The Creation of this Voice Technology Company


The global voice and speech recognition market is expected to grow to reach $26.8 billion by 2025, according to Meticulous Research.

Yobe is a voice technology company focused software company that uses edge-based artificial intelligence  to unlock the potential of voice technologies for modern brands.

In this episode, Ken Sutton, Yobe CEO shares:

  1. How an autistic child inspired the business formation.
  2. Different ways Yobe and voice technology can be used.
  3. His thoughts on the future of voice recognition as a business tool.
  4. Technological barriers keeping us from reaching the full potential of this technology.
  5. How his upbringing fueled his passion for mentoring disadvantaged youth.

Don’t forget to LIKE the video and SUBSCRIBE to our You Tube channel!

Tony O. Lawson

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First Black Owned Distillery in US Lands Distribution Deal With Delta Airlines


Minnesota’ based Du Nord Social Spirits is the first Black owned distillery in the country. They recently landed a deal with Delta Airlines to sell their Foundation Vodka on domestic flights. By 2022, Delta plans to sell other Du Nord products onboard and make the distillery’s spirits available on international flights.

black owned distillery

When Delta approached Du Nord last summer, the company was feeling the economic impact of the pandemic. During the civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd, their warehouse building was set on fire and flooded by its sprinkler system.

It took more than a year to work out the details of the deal, and for Du Nord to scale up its production to meet Delta’s needs.

“When this opportunity came about, we realized there was no way, with our equipment and capacity, that we would be able to do all of this on our own,” said Du Nord co-founder, Chris Montana. “We’ve had to get creative about some ways that we do things.”

The distillery, which recently changed its name from Du Nord Craft Spirits to Du Nord Social Spirits, was inspired by the 12,000 people who donated $1 million to their Go Fund Me after their buildings were damaged.

During that time Du Nord switched from making spirits to making hand sanitizer. They also turned their brick-and-mortar location into a food and supplies donation and distribution center.

Chris and his wife, Shanelle decided to use the money to start the Du Nord Foundation to support other businesses that had been impacted, many of which did not have insurance.

Du Nord Social Spirits says they will give a portion of sales from their vodka on Delta flight to their Du Nord Foundation, which helps give grants to local businesses and entrepreneurs who were impacted by the unrest following the death of Floyd.

Tony O. Lawson

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Berlin Based Founder Turned Her Love For Plants Into a Plant Care and Delivery Business


Deborah Choi is the founder of horticure, a Berlin based plant care business that connects consumers and “plant parents” experts and products that keep houseplants alive and thriving.

We caught up with Deborah to learn more about her and her business.

Deborah Choi, founder of HORTICURE

What inspired you to start your business?

I first started horticure back in late 2018, though later merged that business with Bosque in early 2021. My entry into this space really started with a direct understanding of the customer pain point: having greenery indoors felt great, but figuring out what your plants needed — less so.

I was really a ‘serial plant killer’, frequently going through the offline hassle of buying plants and bringing them home, only to watch them quickly die and repeat the process. 

Credit: Stefan Wieland

It turned out I wasn’t alone — nearly 6 million Americans took up gardening in 2016 (with the more recent pandemic chapter likely increasing the figure), and I reckoned I likely wasn’t alone in muddling through lots of Google searches to figure out what my plants needed.

The light bulb turned on with that, and I first built a plant-care first venture with horticure, a kind of Uber-like on-demand link between plant consumers and vetted horticulturists in several European and US cities. 

Deborah Choi, for Google For Startups Program, Credit: Stefan Wieland

What has your experience been living and running a business in Germany?

Berlin is arguably the startup capital of Europe, and very much so the hub for entrepreneurship in Germany, with nearly 16% of all startups in the country headquartered here. All that said, many of my close friends here are also founders, and anyone can tell you that the journey of a founder can be incredibly isolating and lonely. Building my own venture in such a dense hub for entrepreneurship has made this experience feel much more like a community effort.


Please describe how the pandemic brought about a pivot in your business model?

The first wave of the pandemic directly impacted horticure. With stay at home orders, empty offices, and the shared, logical desire to limit physical contact as much as possible, our business of bringing vetted horticulturists into homes and offices needed a pivot to keep afloat.

Horticure quickly switched to a direct-to-consumer model in April 2020, delivering high quality plants to customers across Berlin. With the knowledge of our staff of horticulturists, we found a niche in presenting customers with easy-care plants they weren’t typically presented with: plants such as the low-key crocodile fern, different varieties of snake plants, and less common string plants. Sales were high, and we quickly tested expanding to other European cities (London), as well as nationwide delivery across Germany.

Our switch from a plant care service, to a growing e-commerce company, got the attention of various other brands in our space, including my now co-founders at Bosque. To make a long story short, I was approached about merging businesses, and after many long conversations and operational tests, decided to do so at the close of 2020. In a nutshell, the pandemic brought not only a pivot, but also a new founding team to my business model – a lot more than I’d anticipated!


What do you feel is behind the passionate plant owners’ deep connection to their plants?

First, I think plants are ‘big’ and have been big for a while, because of other macro trends, namely how much time we spend indoors as a society, and disconnected from nature. The average person in the US or Europe spends 90% of their time indoors, and that was a figure already in place before the pandemic!

The move to bring nature inside is definitely in relation to this reality, but the passion that consumers have for their plants is a lot more about the day to day experience. There’s a lot of joy in bringing a plant ‘back to life’, learning how to propagate, seeing a new leaf unfurl as the seasons change outdoors. 

Which plants are the easiest and the hardest to care for and why?

The hardest plants are the ones that really struggle the most to adapt to the micro climates we have indoors. Many popular houseplants are actually tropical plants. Their ‘home’ climates are often very humid (80%+), dense with other foliage, sun drenched and contain nutrient rich earth.

When given the right environment, all plants will thrive. But the challenge lies in how well one can consistently provide the right (or close enough) environment for their plants. That’s when a plant can become ‘challenging’.

What are your top plant care tips?

I’d say the first point is to understand where your plant originates from, which will tell you a lot about what kind of climate best suits it. For example, if it’s a plant that comes from arid land where rain happens infrequently, such as the sanseveria family of plants, then that’s a plant you should likely only water once a month.

Most indoor plants can actually live for generations, but the reality is the average lifespan of a houseplant is around 7 months. For many, the path to becoming an expert on plant care involves quite a few casualties. That said, try to find joy in the process of turning your thumbs green. I have a young daughter, and I’ve also found it really nice to grow my own plant care knowledge right alongside her.

Tony O. Lawson

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Black Owned Luxury Shoe Brand Launches In Multiple Nordstrom Locations


Keeyahri is a Black owned luxury shoe label focused on building up the confidence of the shoe wearer every step of the way. Founder and Artistic Director Keya Martin swapped out her corporate career for a more rewarding one in fashion with an emphasis on luxury footwear for the confident woman.

We caught up with her to find out more about her business and entrepreneurial journey.

Black Owned Luxury shoe
Keeyahri Founder and Artistic Director, Keya Martin

What inspired you to start a shoe business? 

My perspective on life changed once I felt that the corporate world had a way of eroding one’s sense of self value. After feeling unfulfilled, I prayed and searched for signs and guidance. I made a list of things that I took interest in, footwear was on it.

I’ve always had a good eye for shoes and I wanted to create designs that contributed to my confidence. I became passionate about making statement piece designs that women would love to wear. Once I received my first samples back, I would wear my shoes to networking events.

The compliments I received condensed my insecurities and fueled my self-esteem. Wearing “feel good” shoes makes me feel as if my walk in life is elevated. My shoes transformed me.  I design shoes for women who are in need of an artistic statement piece to provide a sense of elevation and certainty. My goal is to celebrate women by uplifting and empowering them.

Black Owned Luxury shoe

What has been the most rewarding part of your business journey? What has been the most challenging?

The Nordstrom partnership is by far the most rewarding part of my journey. Not only did they invest in my company, but they also gave me their full support to onboard my brand. This partnership opens doors for future growth of all Black owned businesses.

What was most amazing was their continued belief in my potential despite my brand being new to the industry. This is my proudest moment by far. Never in a million years did I think this would ever happen. The journey has been quite challenging but this solidifies all of my effort and hard work.

Black Owned Luxury shoe

Congrats on your Nordstrom partnership. How did that relationship come about?

I was connected to their designer buying team earlier this year. Once connected, they expressed that they were already interested in the brand. We set up a meeting, where I was able to share my story and present my collection. They shortly came back with the styles and quantities they were interested in.

What do you need to take your business to the next level?

As a small minority business, access to capital and funding resources remain essential to our ability to profit and thrive. With capital, I can streamline my processes, scale up my operations, hire great new people and continue working on the things I care about most: creating designs that uplift people.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

We never know the outcome of our efforts unless we actually do it. Once I decided to book my trip to Italy to locate a factory, everything started to align and fall in place. My advice would be to make a move, shoot your shot, jump in that dm, make the connection, collaborate. Do not stay stagnant. If you’re scared, do it scared.

Where do you see the business in 5 years?

In 5 years, I see Keeyahri growing into a lifestyle brand. I’m more of an innovator as opposed to being a footwear designer. I foresee handbags, garments, perfume, and home accessories in the near future. I’m looking forward to partnering with more retailers around the globe.

-Tony O. Lawson

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Meet The Attorney Who Has Owned Her Own Vineyard for Almost 20 Years


Founded in 2003, Theopolis Vineyards is a small lot vineyard and hand-crafted winery located in California’s prestigious Yorkville Highlands of the Anderson Valley.

The vineyard is owned by Ms. Theodora Lee, a charter member of the Association of African American Vintners, a member of Delta Sigma Theta, and a senior partner, and trial lawyer at Littler Mendelson P.C.

We caught up with Ms. Lee to find out more about her and her business.

Theopolis Vineyards
Theodora Lee, Founder of Theopolis Vineyards / Photo by Jessica Chou

What inspired you to get into the wine industry?

My inspiration to get into the wine industry began when I moved to California from Texas in the 1980s when I was introduced to fine wine by my law firm mentors. Prior to that, I really did not drink wine because my dad picked wild Muscadine grapes and made home brew.  

Given that Muscadine was my first introduction to wine, and I found that sweet and syrupy wine nasty, I really had no taste for wine until I moved to California in the ’80s, and learned about fine wine.

In the 80s when I began practicing law, there were no fax machines, emails, Wi-Fi, or other means of electronic communications, so if I needed a law firm partner to review a brief or other legal document, and that partner was at his/her weekend home, I would drive it to that partner’s weekend home.  While the partner reviewed the brief, I would be invited to stay for dinner, and we would drink fine wine. 

Theopolis Vineyards

Also, I was allowed to walk the vineyards.  Given the fact that I learned to drive on a tractor at the age of 8 at my father’s cattle ranch that experience got me interested in grape farming.   At that point, I envisioned owning my own vineyard one day.  Having my own vineyard would allow me to combine my love for farming and the outdoors, and become a grape farmer. Also, I fell in love with the wine lifestyle – great wine, great food and being out in the vineyard. 

From 2003 until 2012, I was quite content being a grape farmer, plowing the land, pruning the vines, fertilizing the vineyard, mowing, chopping, weed eating, erosion control, tying the shoots up to T-posts, fruit thinning, and picking the grapes during Harvest.

As any wine maker will tell you, Great Wine starts in the Vineyard.  That is why vineyard management is essential to growing premium wine grapes.  As a grower, I along with my vineyard manager are intricately involved in all seasonal activities associated with the vineyard.  

Theopolis Vineyards

Initially, I sold my Petite Sirah to Carlisle Winery, Halcon Vineyards, and a few other premium wineries.   I was quite content simply being a grower. Indeed, Wine Critic Robert Parker bestowed upon wine made from grapes harvested from Theopolis Vineyards a stellar rating of 94-96 points, a spectacular showing for my first harvest in 2006.  That put me on the map.

Then, in 2012, an ill-timed rain fell during harvest and I rushed to pick my grapes at 23 brix. The buyer at that time (no longer Carlisle) had contracted for grapes at 25 brix, so they rejected the entire lot. Faced with no one willing to purchase fruit at a lower brix level at the last minute, I decided to have my fruit custom-crushed. 

I then bartered to get the wine produced.  Specifically, I gave the winemaker half of my harvest for free, if, in turn, he would process the other half and make my wines.   So, that 2012 vintage was bottled in 2014.

Fortunately, my 2012 Petite Sirah received a gold medal from Sunset Magazine and soon thereafter, Theopolis Vineyards was underway.  Since then, we have consistently produced 90 + point, Best in Class, Double Gold and Gold Medal wines.

Theopolis Vineyards

Can you describe the process you went through to develop your vineyard?

Well, to develop my own vineyard, I took several viticulture classes at UC Davis Viticulture School and learned about viticulture.  However, California land is not cheap.  Although I looked at properties in Napa and Sonoma, I could not afford land in those locations.  

My law firm and vineyard mentor suggested that I look at Mendocino County.   So, in 2001, I took the equity out of my home and purchased 20 acres in the Yorkville Highlands of Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, and began developing my vineyard. That process was intensive, as I had to do soil digs, clear the land, conduct land analysis to ensure the land was suitable for grape growing. 

Finally, in 2003, I planted my vineyard, adopted my Greek name, from pledging Delta Sigma Theta Sorority at Spelman College, and established Theopolis Vineyards.   So, my dream of being a grape farmer came to reality in 2003 when I planted 5 acres of Petite Sirah grapes.  

Theopolis Vineyards

How has the pandemic affected your business if at all?

Well, like others, living in the COVID-19 era is very stressful. Because I still practice law full time, I was able to offer free shipping during this ongoing pandemic, which eliminated the biggest hurdle to buying wines online.  As a result, our on-line sales increased.  

We have pivoted and do virtual tastings for sororities, fraternities, non-profit organizations, corporations, corporate boards, team building, leadership organizations, etc.   Thus, we have actually been able to expand our business.   In 2019, we produced and sold between 800-1000 cases of wine.   Since 2020, we have increased our production to 2500 cases annually and doing a decent job getting the wines sold.

What barriers have you encountered in the wine industry and how did you overcome them?

Well, unfortunately, racism exists in every facet of society, and the wine industry is no exception.   The wine industry is a white male dominated one.  The biggest barrier has been finding distributors and getting my wines in high end restaurants and wine bars. 

However, as a lawyer, I have been fortunate enough to overcome many of these obstacles by having my law firm partners introduce me to restaurant and bar owners, and that introduction has facilitated me overcoming those hurdles.  

I am happy to state that our wines are carried in some of the finest restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Also, I believe in hard work and grit, and I never give up.   Even though I produce award winning wines, distributors still reject doing business with me.  

Recently, one distributor told me he questioned the marketability of one of my varietals.  Despite the consistent rejection, I keep pounding the pavement.

Earlier this year, Southern Glazer’s, a premier beverage distributor for world-class wines, picked up our wines for distribution in Florida thanks to the demands of a prominent Florida Restaurant Group. 

Due to my persistence, I continue to be picked up by Distributors in Texas and Massachusetts.   

What advice do you have for aspiring vintners?

Pursue your passion, educate yourself, work extremely hard, be persistent and be very patient. Never give up and keep climbing and success is yours for the taking.


Tony O. Lawson

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5 Information Products to Help Start or Grow Your Online Business


In 2021, over 2.14 billion people around the globe will purchase their goods and services online. That is almost a third of the entire world population checking out their computers, tablets, and phones for their next transaction. That many people create a lot of opportunities.

Not everyone wants to maintain inventory or has the next idea to start Tesla or Amazon. However, what almost everyone does have is knowledge. At some point in your life, you developed a skill or learned enough about a topic that other consumers would be willing to purchase.

Starting your next online business could be as simple as putting together your family recipes for a blog and cookbook. Maybe you know how to raise chickens in a city, or you have managed a couple of kiddos that are doing well and can offer the rest of us some valuable pointers. Whatever the topic, you have information that can be sold in the digital marketplace.

What are Information Products?

Information products or “info products” are items of value you can sell online that offer knowledge to consumers on specific topics. These can be books, audio recordings, videos, and so on. They typically take a little effort up front to launch and then sell in the background of your business for extra income.

Instead of offering just your time for money, you are creating a product that can sell without you constantly needing to check and recheck its process. This is a great way to expand your income streams and flush out the services and products your current business offers. Here are a few examples of info products.

1 – Ebooks, PDFs, Kindle Books

An Ebook is one of the easiest ways to earn money on the side and expand your online reputation. It lends credence to you as an expert in your topic. If you are a financial coach and write a short “how-to” guide on improving your personal finance, you create a marketable digital product that can be sold on your website, Amazon, and more. You also have a product you can give for free when people sign up for your mailing list or offer as a prize for contests.

2 – Webinars, Podcasts, Videos

Creating digital media that can be easily viewed or heard through a mobile device is an excellent way to grow your brand. There are thousands of YouTube stars and TikTok influencers that got their start offering advice on cooking, cleaning, fixing your car, applying for college, and so much more.

Creating content-rich media that informs the general public how to do or complete a task improves your visibility among your competition. You can earn money this way by building out your sales funnel with marketable content and even open up some space for advertisers.

3 – Online Courses

If it seems like everyone under the sun is selling a course, it is because that is precisely what they’re doing. Putting a series together about how to be an education consultant or starting a freelance IT career is a great way to earn money on the side. Most people with good business ideas just need that extra push of knowledge to get started and are willing to pay for a course that outlines the steps they should take.

4 – Templates and Documents

Many people do not know how to format a proper resume or what kind of Living Will they should fill out in case of disaster. You can easily sell pre-made documents that fit many of these needs on platforms like Etsy, Amazon, your personal site, and more. Do a quick search on Etsy for “work resume,” and you’ll immediately see the potential.

5 – Membership Site

This one takes a bit more upfront cost to build, but if you can get a highly engaging website made with information only available to members, you have a strong money maker. Many craft workers like woodworkers, cosplay enthusiasts, gamers, furniture makers, and more have specialized websites that feature a free and membership section. Even a $5/month paywall can mean the difference between putting your mortgage on autopilot or paying your kid’s tuition.

Where to Begin

Starting an online business can be a challenge. There is almost too much information available to see the clear pathway towards a clear solution. The good news is that info products require less cost, no inventory management, and way less operational knowledge than a traditional brick-and-mortar store.

If you would like to learn more about the foundational steps you should take to developing or growing your online business, check out some of our other articles related to money, culture, wellness, and being a strong online entrepreneur.

Tony O. Lawson

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