Recently we sat down with resident Mom Boss, Jessica Bell, who is also the founder and inventor of HaloVino®, for a quick Q & A session.
Why did you start HaloVino?
I guess you could say it was for pretty selfish reasons - I wanted my wine to taste good when glass was not an option. As a former sommelier, I knew that the SHAPE of the wide-rimmed plastic cups I got at concerts or parties was what made my wine taste and feel cheap, not the PLASTIC. My frugal side would make me feel so annoyed that I spent $10 on a glass of wine at a ball game, and it tasted like $2. I thought the solution was easy - create a plastic glass that mimicked the narrow rim and wide body of the world’s best wine glasses. Others had done that but they were expensive, flimsy, and single-use. They still didn’t make sense at the beach, on the boat or poolside. So, I set out to make a shatterproof wine glass that was stackable, durable, dishwasher safe and inexpensive. I decided to value portability, sustainability and affordability over tradition. The resulting design was different, and I worried how It would be received, but I knew its form had purpose important in our lives. And sure enough, once people try HaloVino for its intended occasions, they appreciate its ability to make wine taste better while making life to feel just a little easier and more enjoyable.
How did you come up with the idea?
I was a sommelier and in the wine business for over a decade. I had drank wine at hundreds of outdoor events using plastic cups, but it wasn’t until I was asked to speak to a large group at a tradeshow where glasses was prohibited, that the design popped into my head. They wanted me to comment on the smell and taste of wine. I just laughed because I knew you can’t smell anything from a wide-rimmed cup. The audience would think I was full of it when I asked, “Can you smell the strawberries?” I wanted a narrow-rimmed vessel that was stackable and inexpensive but it didn’t exist, so I thought “How hard can it be?” I figured it would take $5K and 6 months. Good thing I didn’t know the reality of product development. I now say, one of the greatest things an entrepreneur can know is not knowing.
Why does it have a halo?
I quickly realized that if HaloVino had to be narrow-rimmed for taste AND stackable for convenience then it would have to be two parts. A narrow-rimmed one piece wine glass won’t nest inside another. The first designs had no signs of a halo around the center of the glass… but, then again, those leaked. Through countless iterations, 7 3D printed prototypes, some tears and days when I thought I would never figure this out, I found a seal that allows you to easily snap it together and use it like a one-piece 12 oz stemless wine glass without worry of leaks or spills. Our patented seal is unlike anything in the market. No other produces such a strong seal at the midpoint of a glass without the use of the gasket such that you can apply strong pressure without disrupting the seal.
What’s inspired you to be a sustainable company?
I started HaloVino to solve a specific problem – how do we enjoy wine when glass is absent. But about a year into sales I realized there was a MUCH bigger problem – single-use plastic waste. I realized I could either be a part of the problem or solution. I feel strongly about doing work I believe in and making products I’d want to buy. HaloVino is made in the USA with the safest resins – in fact, the same ones used for baby bottles. There was no question which way I’d go with the business.
Other comparable wine glasses at this price point are single-use. HaloVino, on the other hand, is dishwasher safe. Then we started promoting and sponsoring programs that encourage, first, reuse, and second, recycling. We launched a sustainability initiative at SOBE Wine & Food Festival this year. Most recently, we are piloting water-resistant, dishwasher-safe totes that make reuse of HaloVino convenient and easy. Our customers can throw their wet, sticky HaloVinos in their HaloTotes without getting their backpack or beach bag wet.
We have a long way to go, and have lots to learn, but we are on a mission to create a world where living life to its fullest doesn’t come at a damaging cost.
Tell us a little about the causes HaloVino® is passionate about.
At HaloVino® we are passionate about supporting organizations that support families going through childhood cancer and illness, such as the Make A Wish Foundation, and events and initiatives that support sustainability practices like reuse and recycling, like the one we recently sponsored at South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
Do you see any similarities between being a mom and running a business?
My son and my business, HaloVino, were “born” within months of one another. Of course, I favor my human son to my business “child” any day, but they are similar in that they both provide the most satisfying and fulfilling experiences, yet also present the most difficult and emotionally-draining challenges. When you love someone or something so deeply, you feel all the highs and lows of their journey, and your children and business are no exceptions. They both start off chaotic, include sleep deprivation, and instill the will to roll with the punches. And then you watch with pride as all those late nights, attention to detail, and small tasks start to pay off with hard-earned wins.