Green Country Grown-Up: Betsy Hendershot
Ready to swirl, smell, sip and support
Photo by Sheeba Atiqi
With the holidays in full swing, we caught up with a new face in the wine industry who is toasting the town with her own boxed wine label, Downward Dog Wine. Betsy Hendershot is the woman behind the local brand that launched only 14 months ago. As she can attest, starting a business while raising kids is a balancing act, but understands it is well worth the investment as she witnesses the slow, steady and positive growth in both.
Betsy’s family is a constant source of support and has served as the key inspiration in several business decisions – including her plans of donating 5 percent of all sales to various children’s charities. Even the branding cleverly captures the family dog, a Cockapoo named Lincoln, in the downward dog yoga pose, a nod to her yoga influence.
TK: Tell us about your family and connection to Tulsa.
Betsy: I grew up in Missouri but attended college at The University of Tulsa. I love Tulsa and met my husband here. We have two kids and live in midtown and absolutely love it.
TK: As a kid, what did you dream of becoming?
Betsy: I didn’t have one particular thing that I dreamed of becoming. I have always been interested in a variety of things and my ideas and interests have evolved over time.
TK: While growing up, what type of influence did your parents have on you?
Betsy: Looking back, I realize what a big influence my parents were to me. My dad was an entrepreneur and ran his own boat manufacturing business. I would overhear him on business calls and listened to him – from this, I learned to appreciate his patience with people. My parents were great parents. They instilled a strong work ethic in me – I am so thankful for that. My mom was also active in the family business; it was good that my mom had a role in it. I grew up watching them both work hard while raising my sister and I. I think they did a great job!
TK: What is one piece of advice you’ve received that has helped you in your life?
Betsy: My parents taught me that I have the ability to make choices and to embrace the results of making those decisions. It’s what has set me on this path and I’m pretty happy where I am.
TK: What is one activity your family does together?
Betsy: We enjoy riding our bikes together. One of our favorite family activities is biking to breakfast on Sundays.
TK: Do you have a holiday tradition you would like to share?
Betsy: The ladies in my family have started a new tradition of sharing our favorite things. It’s a lot of fun and we really enjoy it. The kids also exchange gifts with each other, but we don’t get too caught up in all the gift giving – it’s more about being together.
TK: Let’s visit about your new business venture. What sparked your interest in starting a business?
Betsy: I always knew I wanted to build a business on my own. The concept stems from my daughter being born with some health issues that we found out about when she was three. I wanted to raise money for a cause – children’s charities — through creating a product where part of the proceeds goes towards that purpose.
TK: Why did you decide to start your own wine label?
Betsy: When considering what business to start, I thought about what I enjoy and what made the most sense. With my husband being a wine & liquor distributor, I have insight into this industry. As I started considering starting my own wine label, I noticed that things related to this idea kept presenting themselves to me and finally I decided to go for it. Once I made the decision, I began the process of locating a single vineyard wine with different varietals while at the same time making sure it was of good quality while remaining affordable – Downward Dog is from the Columbia Valley in Washington State.
TK: Why did you decide to package it as a boxed wine?
Betsy: It’s an economical way to enjoy great quality wine. And the box is just a portion of it – we considered the reduction in carbon emissions from shipping as well as reducing glass, cork, and foil used for the capsule – eliminating all those elements equals less waste for the consumer. Wine lasts longer in the box and any portion can be enjoyed – even just one glass – without compromising the taste and quality of the wine.
TK: Each box contains the following mantra: “Live in color. Live your life fully and kindly without hesitation. Spend time with others and play nicely. Respect yourself. Think about things that make the world better. Do these things. Enjoy. Rest. Renew. Appreciate the beautiful earth that surrounds you. Drink good wine.” Where did it originate?
Betsy: I wrote it. These are the things that I like to focus on and thought it might be good for others, too. That’s what I think life should be.
TK: How are you able to accomplish the rest and renew parts of this focus?
Betsy: In addition to practicing yoga, I am a runner. This is a source of stress release. I am not good at sitting and relaxing. I need a reminder that it’s ok to have some downtime.
TK: In order to juggle/balance all that you have going on, how do you manage your time? Do you have a specific time of the day when you work the best?
Betsy: It comes down to just starting. I am a morning person. I like to get up early and have a cup of coffee. My perfect wake-up time is between 5:00-5:30 a.m. If I can get up and get my day started early, I am so productive during that time. I also appreciate the help of family and friends – I had to learn to let go and let others help.
TK: What words of advice do you have for others thinking about taking a leap and following their dreams?
Betsy: Find something that you love and do that. It truly takes years to build a business and a brand. For me, I have a purpose for making this work — eventually raising money for children’s charities. I knew I wanted to develop a brand that spoke to me and combining wine, dogs, yoga is perfect – it’s something that represents me. I’m so passionate about it I can talk about it all day long. If it’s something you’ve been searching for and thinking about, you should go for it!
Wrap-up: What’s next for you?
Betsy: We live in a society of wanting things to happen immediately. I am in the process of expanding into other states, which is challenging and exciting. It takes so much time to build a business and this one is still in the infancy stages, but it’s growing and I’m really proud of that.