Our newest seed capital recipient, Ayaba Wines, is a canned sangria company from Oakland, California, that is rooted in legacy, family, and celebration. Ayaba got its start when founder Jerry Bailey began experimenting with different sangria recipes for the women of his family, saying that he hadn’t seen any sangria brand that spoke to the African American experience. Ayaba Wines is finishing up its second round of production with 3 new flavors on the way!
Jerry was selected as a seed capital recipient after participating in the Lab at ICA, our seed-level business mentorship program. This investment was made using the ICA Impact Note, ICA’s innovative investment structure that helps entrepreneurs prioritize growing good jobs, by achieving metrics like workforce diversity and employee wealth creation.
"[The ICA Impact Notes we're focused on achieving are] to create good jobs and hire great people that can help this company grow — with 401k matching, health insurance and equity.”
What inspired you to start your company? I started making sangria for the women of my family at events, playing with different recipes. I was crafting quality Sangria that speaks to the African American experience — wine is about legacy and aspiration, and I didn't see many brands celebrate that for the African American community. So I decided to launch a business. The name Ayaba means “queen” in Yoruba, and is an homage to the women that got me started and who have been supportive throughout my life. That’s why each of our flavors celebrates a Black queen!
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an entrepreneur? When I decided to take my business from a side hustle to a commercial business, it was challenging because I didn’t know how to make this a viable, shelf-stable product. I could make one little pot, which is very inexpensive. Commercially, it's pallets. How do I finance that? How do I get the right ingredients? How do I create the correct flavor profile? So I went to the Napa Valley Wine program, learned the business side of wine, had experience on the seller-side working for a distributor, and worked for two wineries here in Oakland.
What’s next for your company? We’re finishing our second round of production, which will feature three new flavors and a relaunch of the company. We'll be able to appeal to different palettes and offer a little bit of everything for folks, which will increase the brand even more. We are also looking to expand to Sacramento and Los Angeles within the next 8-12 months.
What was the most surprising thing about your journey with ICA? I was not surprised about my time with ICA, but the most challenging part going through the program and the seed capital process was figuring out how to make this thing profitable. It took a while to find the right partners to supply wine for our sangria. That’s why it was so important to get the investment from ICA, because I was able to launch a flavor on my own. Now we're launching three flavors this summer, and will be going into our next production round in a couple of weeks. So this ICA funding is really great timing.
What are the impact note metrics you’re focused on achieving? To create good jobs and hire great people that can help this company grow — with 401k matching, health insurance and equity. We also want to build out our board of directors and management with people that have expertise but that also keep the idea of community and impact investing close to their perspective on what doing good business looks like.
Learn more about Ayaba Wines and their newest launch at their Instagram and ayabawines.com. Jerry is a Lab at ICA alumni, our seed-stage accelerator program designed for early-stage businesses generating revenue and looking to develop a plan to strategically grow.
In the News
It takes a village to launch and expand a business, San Francisco Business Times, Aug 29, 2022