Alicia Kidd & Mari Kemp

The dynamo duo bringing culture and diversity to Oakland's wine + food community.

location: Oakland, CA

Company: Coco Noir Wine Shop & Bar

Role: Co-founders

On Coco Noir Wine Shop & Bar.

CoCo Noir Wine Shop & Bar is a woman and minority-owned urban wine shop and online store located in downtown Oakland, CA in the heart of the Black Arts Movement Business District.

We bring culture, life, and global experience to amazing wines, foods, and art. We are committed to always providing and sourcing the best wines produced by women and minority winemakers of color.

On being founders.

Being women founders means we are setting an example and blueprint for young girls and women that aspire to be entrepreneurs in the wine industry. As women business partners, we faced several challenges in launching a wine shop. The wine industry, particularly in the retail space, is male-dominated. We are constantly making sure that we are taken seriously by our male counterparts. The advice we would offer to young women entrepreneurs is to never give up. Set goals, be positive, and seek out mentorship in the area of business that you want to focus on.

In terms of inspiration, a femme power duo we admire in the wine industry is Andrea and Robin Mcbride, owners of the Mcbrides Sisters wine company. They are the largest black women's wine brand in the United States. They’ve broken barriers for black women and women in the wine industry when it comes to building a successful wine business and amplifying women in the wine industry through employment, scholarship, and many other great opportunities. We hope to do the same.

As women business partners, we’ve had to let go of our egos and what we thought we knew about running a business. We each have corporate experience and have run other businesses, but this our first business partnership. So we are both learning to bring our individual talents to the table – sans egos – to open a successful wine shop.

What we love about being women founders is leading from a lens of social impact, equity, and inclusion. Since the workforce is more diverse with women of all ages and cultural backgrounds, our leadership style will always have a woman-centric approach.

What surprised us about being women founders is the amount of support we are getting from other women that are entrepreneurs and young women that look to us to give them advice on becoming future women business owners.