The Sip's Erica Davis Talks Inspiration, Supporting Black-Owned Wines & 'Take A Sip, Give A Sip'
The best thing about discovering something new is the thrill of tapping into your inner explorer and sharing the new unearthed find with friends. It’s that exciting feeling you get from experiencing something new that makes Oakland, California-based sparkling wine subscription company, The Sip, an excellent concept. The Black women-owned and founded service was inspired by two friends and their appreciation for a girl’s night – which for Erica Davis and Catherine Carter consisted of catch-up time with a glass of bubbly.
Friends since college, Davis and Carter set out to start The Sip because it became increasingly difficult to find a Champagne they hadn’t experienced. Davis adds, “Once we found one, it was even harder to figure out how to purchase it. So, we really tried to find a go-to for Champagne and sparkling wine, and when we didn't find one existed, we just created it ourselves.” So, in January 2020, the two started The Sip.
The Sip concept goes beyond two friends searching for rare or hard-to-find bottles of sparkling wine. Davis and Carter also saw the need to help other women discover what they like and don’t like without wasting money on a wine they don’t enjoy. “Just bringing it back to why the creation of it and why it matters and why it's been so successful, I think as a woman, and more specifically, as a Black woman and brown woman, you think about how alcohol markets to you. It's in a very specific and deliberate way. There are these expectations that we like [drinks] pink or sweet, and it might be true for some women, but it isn't for everyone,” Davis states. “For us, it's really about making a safe space where we'd rather have her figure that out for herself, and because of that our product has evolved as well.” So, while The Sip offers a bi-monthly subscription, they also have a one-time purchase of curated boxes and full-size bottles. Furthermore, each box includes credits toward full-size bottles on the site, so subscribers get to taste the wines, find their favorites, then purchase those full bottles from The Sip.
This year, The Sip plans to support even more Black and brown wine producers. Davis says, “When you think of The Sip, we offer more than a regular grocery store would. We carry not only legacy brands that you already know – so the Ace of Spades, Louis Roederer, Cristal, and all these names – but we also involve other Black-owned brands as well. So, Wachira Wines in California, and B. Stuyvesant, which I believe is one of the very few Black women-owned champagne brands in the U.S. and other smaller houses that you may not know.” Often, the BIPOC and women-owned brands on The Sip out-sell the legacy brands, showing that people are eager to taste new flavors and support brands outside the grocery store aisles.
In addition to curating a delicious sparkling wine experience, the company pays it forward to their Oakland hometown through the Take a Sip, Give a Sip initiative. Davis says, “When we originally started thinking about this business, before we even put pen to paper, it was really important for us that we were giving back to the city that gave us so much. We went to high school here. We grew up with our friendships here. Our families are here. So, we wanted to make it the foundation.” So, every product, whether a full-size bottle of wine or a curated box, gives 16 ounces of clean water to East Oakland Community Project (EOCP), a multi-service organization offering emergency help for transitioning families in Alameda County. The Sip has donated over 4,000 gallons since its launch. “It was really important for us that we help families. The good thing about EOCP is that it helps a spectrum of people. It helps women, children, and men. It helps them go from homelessness to homeownership. So, for us, it was really important to be able to help an organization that was doing so much fundamentally and systematically for Black and brown people.” Later this year, Take a Sip, Give a Sip will expand to benefit an additional location outside of solely donating to EOCP.
The driving force behind The Sip’s ethos is a blend of Davis and Carter’s awareness of their influence as founders and their love of family. Davis states, “It’s one thing for you to say you want a job in a position to make an impact and it's another to get that job in that position. Not to sound cliché, but with power comes responsibility. So, for me, understanding that there are people who actually depend on me for their livelihood is motivation enough and it makes me feel like I have to get up and I have to grind, and I have to work harder.” Davis also cites her and Carter’s daughters as motivators. “My mom is an entrepreneur, and my grandmother was an entrepreneur. So, for me seeing that, as a Black woman in the U.S. and not thinking that it was unattainable is in itself enough for me to keep going for my child.”