Female Feature Friday: Chelsie Petras of Chel Loves Wine
We are back at it, bringing you another Female Feature Friday. We are so excited to be sharing a new amazing Girl Boss every week. The inspiration behind this series was to highlight the brilliant women running small businesses in an effort to inspire other women to bring their talents to the table. We can do it all, ladies!
Chel was one of the first people I was immediately drawn to when joining the world of social media. Sweet, relatable, and LOVES wine. We have a winner folks. I am so excited to share her small business journey with y’all! Enjoy.
LET’S GET DOWN TO (SMALL) BUSINESS:
Name and Occupation:
Chelsie Petras / Owner of Chel Loves Wine LLC, Wine Influencer, and Dog Mom.
Briefly describe your business:
Chel Loves Wine is a blog and Instagram account aiming to make wine less intimidating. I work with brands to highlight everything from new vintages of wine, wine regions, and events in NYC.
How did Chel Loves Wine come about and what were you doing before its inception?
Before CLW got up and running I was (and still am) working for a bank. My focus is in fraud and cybersecurity, so that’s what I was doing every day. As you can imagine, this job isn’t the most thrilling to a young 20 something living in NYC, so I decided that I needed a creative outlet that would allow me to connect with others. So I thought I’d start a wine blog. But why wine you ask? I’d always had an interest in wine. I was the girl with Franzia at the college parties and my handles on all social media was @Chelloveswine, so I ran with it.
I wanted a place for people to come and learn about wine without being intimidated. Wine is a scary liquid for so many people. It was so scary for me. A bunch of old white men telling me what I should taste and smell in a liquid that literally just smelled like booze to me. I wanted to break it down and let others learn with me so we can create a new generation of wine lovers who aren’t snobs, but still have that great passion for a good bottle of wine.
Why is small business so important to you?
Small business is so important to me because every single business started as a small business. Someone with an idea, wanting to change the world. I think knowing that is what makes small businesses so important and matter so much. My mom has owned small businesses, my brother currently runs his own business and employs 4 people, I run one. They’re just really important to society as a whole.
What was your first real job?
My first real job was when I was 14 years old at a waterpark! I worked in food service and would take an hour bus ride, 5 days a week, all summer long to work at Water Safari in Old Forge, NY. I ended up doing this every summer for 4 years! I started as a cashier at the pizza joint, moved up to admissions and ended as a park photographer!
What motivates you to keep going on the less than awesome days?
My support system is what keeps me going on good and bad days. My support system is everyone from my boyfriend and parents, to all of my followers and readers. When one of those all too common “less than awesome days” rolls around I just know that there is a huge support system of almost 30k people that are there for me and want me to push through.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?
Never give up and always ask for help when you need it. So many times I’ve wanted to just throw in the towel and have questioned why I’m even doing this. I feel like I’m a fraud most days, “Who am I to think I can run this whole business?” but once those moments pass I realize that I’m more than capable of running this business and providing quality content to my clients.
I also think asking for help is key. I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am without asking those in different parts of my industry for assistance. Whether it was help on running my website, writing a post, to camera equipment or an accountant. There is always someone who is willing to help you succeed!
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made and what/how did you learn from it?
I’ve made so many mistakes. Everything from promoting weird products to not standing up for what I deserve to messing up my taxes big time (yikes!). But the biggest mistake I’ve made was working with brands I didn’t fully believe in. In the beginning, I was just so eager to get my name out there that I’d work with anyone and I regret doing that. I’m honestly embarrassed to even admit that. Some poor products ended up in hands of my readers and that tarnished me as an influencer where my job was to “influence” people.
I’ve grown so much from those experiences and now only work with people and brands I 100% believe in. I vet every product, every wine, every single thing I tell people about because I want people to have trust in me and say, “Hey, I need a good wine, let me see what Chel has suggested.” My followers and readers trusting me is a major key to CLW, LLC succeeding.
What is something you are super proud to have accomplished and how did you achieve that and goal?
Is it bad that it took me so long to think of something for this? When you’re running a small business I feel like you have things you’ve accomplished that you’re so proud of but then you have to move onto the next thing ASAP because there is always something new that needs to be done. I am definitely proud of starting my video series with PureWow called “It’s Wine O’Clock.” That was a huge accomplishment for me and my brand to be able to have access to PureWow’s following (which is over 1 million) and talk about wine pairings every week.
What has surprised you most about running a small business?
I knew it would be a lot of work but like, it’s a LOT of work. There is something every single day that needs my attention. I really feel like it’s a rollercoaster. Some days things are just so good and others I’m like, “How did I get here? Why am I doing this? What is happening???” It’s just really all about riding the wave and I really wasn’t expecting the waves to be so big!
Who have you looked to for advice and mentorship?
I really look up to women like Leslie Sbrocco, who is a wine TV personality and runs her own media company. She is goals. I also look up to my mom a lot who has run several small businesses through the years. She always gives me a different take on things and gives me the tough love when I need it (I never want it but she always dishes it out!).
What does it mean to you to be a woman in small business?
Being a woman in small business is so empowering. I work in cyber full time which is ALL MEN. I’m surrounded by that BDE (big dick energy) all day. Being in charge of my own business has lead me to be so much more confident in other areas of my life where I was lacking. I think women make the world go ‘round and I love the community of other women business owners and influencers I’ve become friends with. It’s a really special community and I love watching it grow.
What’s next for Chel loves wine?
CLW is slowly starting to get more into video content and hosting gigs. Instagram is a great vessel for staying in touch with people and I’m hoping to be able to shift some of the focus from IG to actual TV and video. I’m also hoping to start throwing some wine tasting parties in the NYC area along with private tastings once I’ve completed my WSET 3 (wish me luck).
LET’S GET THE SKINNY ON NEW YORK:
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO NEW YORK?
I came to NYC 6 years ago for an internship at a bank! I still work in finance as my full time gig. I call it the “pay the bills job” where my small business is my fun, passion project.
BEST BAGEL IN NEW YORK?
Oh this is hard. I personally am a huge fan of Bagels on the Ave in Astoria, but if I have to go Manhattan, I’ll go with Brooklyn Bagel in Chelsea. Get the onion bagel, toasted, with regular cream cheese at either location.
BEST HAPPY HOUR IN NEW YORK?
CorkBuzz in Union Square is one of my favorite places. They have wine flights for under $20 and they’re all themed. I love letting the somm’s there pick my flight for me and let me guess on what I’m tasting.
FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP IN NEW YORK?
I’m not a huge coffee drinker and when I do I only drink decaf!! But with that being said, there is a place called Mad Man Espresso by my office and they make an awesome decaf flat white.
FAVORITE PIZZA IN NEW YORK?
By far $1 slices are the best. You can find them all over NY but I have a sweet spot for the one in Hell’s Kitchen. I’m fed and happy for $3.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING A BUSINESS OWNER IN NEW YORK?
NYC is one of the best places to be a small business owner. I have access to so many resources and others who are also small business owners. I’m able to attend events in the city with others who work in wine or individuals who are small business owners or better yet groups of women who are small business owners. My opportunities are endless here and the energy of the city keeps me going.
TELL US 3 OF YOUR FAVORITE SMALL BUSINESSES.
It’s hard to just pick out 3 but I love:
Grenville Society run by Vija Kuras. Cute pineapple wine openers, candles and more!
Inderma Studio where I go for facials. She’s a one woman show making people look like glowing goddesses.
Samantha Sommelier. A one woman show hosting private wine tastings and doing TV segments giving us all of her wine education. She’s a rockstar.