Owners of 1010 Wine, the only Black woman-owned wine bar in Inglewood, California, Leslie, and LeAnn Jones are two sisters making waves in the wine bar industry. In fact, 1010 is the only wine bar in Inglewood, California. Meeting sophistication with good vibes and an eclectic variety of wine choices, 1010 Wine is a chic wine bar with a swanky ambiance, a tasty menu, good music, and a massive offering of Black, women, and LGBTQ+ owned wine brands. The Jones sisters sat down with Forbes to talk about 1010 Wine and their experiences paving unchartered territory as Black women entering a predominantly male and white driven industry.
What inspired you to open 1010 Wine?
Leslie Jones: My sister [LeAnn Jones] were born and raised in Inglewood, California, and we started this journey a few years ago. My sister, LeAnn, got into wine while attending law school. She would often travel and bring wine back home for me to try, and we would talk about the wine. We really grew our relationship into adulthood over wine. We have always been really close because we are only two and a half years apart. So, when I would go on dates in high school, my mom would make her come with me. So, we have always been very, very close. But this just helped us cultivate our relationship even more into adulthood.
I have a thriving career as a wedding planner. Independently I was looking for a space to host events. I have been doing wedding planning for ten years, and I have always wanted my own space because I saw how much venues made and the seemingly small amount of work they do to make that money. I was always hustling as a wedding planner, putting in so much work. So, I wanted to find a space of my own, and I knew I wanted it to be in Inglewood. LeAnn independently wanted to have a tasting room where she could pour the wines that we have grown to love and celebrate many of the Black-owned wines that we enjoy. So, we were independently looking for spaces, and then we found the space at 1010 North and decided to do something together.
LeAnn Jones: The inspiration for 1010 really was us having a place for Black wine lovers. Leslie and I go out often with our friends and families. We like to drink, eat good food, and enjoy ourselves. I came to Leslie and said I wanted to open up a tasting space because of my love for wine. I did not see a lot of Black wine experts in the industry, and I wanted a safe place for us to come to and not be intimidated by wine lingo.
We wanted to create a space for people to gather, regardless of their knowledge of wine, and feel comfortable and learn about wine, drink wine, explore wine, and get into the industry. We wanted to make a footprint because less than 1% of the wine industry is Black, which does not make sense to us. Although we are a small bar in Inglewood, we want to be more than that so we can increase that percentage.
Why did you choose to open 1010 in Inglewood, California, and not Beverly Hills, Hollywood, or West Los Angeles?
Leslie Jones: What LeAnn just said is one of the reasons we decided to open a space in Inglewood. First, Inglewood is home to us, but we wanted to build a space accessible to people in our community. Also, there are no spaces like 1010 in this area. So like LeAnn said, we like to drink wine, eat good food, listen to good music, and in order for us to do that, we constantly had to go to spaces outside of Inglewood. Although it was difficult for us to open a business in Inglewood, we definitely knew that it had to be in Inglewood because that is where we are from, and that is where we currently still live, and that is where we wanted to create a space.
What impact do you want to make on the community with 1010 Wine?
Leslie Jones: I think it is definitely twofold. We carry the largest selection of Black-owned wines in the state of California. We also carry a lot of women-owned brands and a lot of LGBTQ+-owned brands. It was important for us to make sure that communities that are sometimes forgotten about in this industry are highlighted.
When a winemaker comes to us, many of these companies self-distribute; they are smaller family-owned companies. They tell us, “hey, you have caused us to increase our production that we are doing because of your large orders,” or “we are sold out of a particular wine because you have ordered so much of it.” It fills our hearts. That means a lot to us because we know what we are doing is not just impacting us, but it’s also impacting all of these other businesses.
LeAnn Jones: Again, we want to create a safe space for Black people to enjoy wine. That was not something that we set out to do. It was not a part of our mission, but 1010 has become that space. We have had people come in before, and the music is going; it might be a little loud. They are drinking, having a good time, and they’re like, “is it okay for me to get up and dance?” We’re like, “of course; you don’t have to ask.” We want 1010 to be a classy space but still a good time. You can come and have a great time while learning about wine. We want it to be a vibe. We want it to be fun, and we do not want you to feel like a stuffy quiet wine bar.
How has the community and wine enthusiasts responded to 1010 so far?
LeAnn Jones: The reaction has been really pure — everybody embracing us. And we have been tremendously grateful for that. The overwhelming support that we have received has also allowed us to do business with other smaller local businesses, which enables us to better supper them. For example, we use a local florist weekly. When we do events, we have a local person that does our linens and décor. It has become a community space, and we appreciate that. We appreciate the support. We appreciate people cheering us on, pouring into us, and making us feel like we’re doing something needed in Inglewood.
Leslie Jones: When we opened, we jokingly said If all else fails, we know that our family and friends will show up to sustain our business. When we opened up — at our grand opening, so many people we did not know came out to support us. We were honestly shocked and incredibly grateful for people to really take 1010 on as their own is special to us. We have customers that come in and bring a new person because they want to see 1010 do well, and they want to make sure that 1010 is a place that’s here for the long haul because they feel so connected to it.
What challenges did you both encounter while opening 1010?
Leslie Jones: As in the business world, trying to open a business as Black women is not easy. I think we both have our individual gripes about opening a new business. But for me, one of the largest challenges has been entering a brand-new industry that was foreign to us. Like I said earlier, LeAnn is a lawyer, and I am a wedding planner. We do not have experience opening a business or in the restaurant world. The only time I worked in a restaurant was in college. So, navigating this whole beast of opening this space was difficult for us. We had mentors, but we are Inglewood’s first and only wine bar. Literally, what we have done nobody has ever done before.
The other thing I would say is that this is an industry that is very male-driven and white-driven. When we come out the gate and are unapologetic about our mission to carry Black and women-owned brands, we get a lot of pushback. Even to this day, our distributors want to bring wines to us that do not fit the scope of our mission. It is sometimes a little tiring to keep repeating our interest in wines from Black brands. It also feels like we’re doing a lot more work than other wine bars. So that sometimes can be a little frustrating.
LeAnn Jones: I think the biggest challenge has been wanting to produce a perfect product. It has been difficult because, like Leslie said, we have not been in the restaurant industry. We are new to the wine space. We are happy when people say they had a great time at 1010. But I’m still looking for ways to improve because we’re still learning. We are still putting things into place for us to become better. Also, because we strive to ensure that every person who walks into 1010 has the best experience — it comes down to time management.
I don’t think we ever thought we would be working as much as we are right now. So, it has been a learning experience to balance having a day job with owning a completely separate business from your day job. For example, Leslie has a wedding this weekend, and I have my clients still as an attorney. Also, managing 1010 and forcing ourselves to stop working. Sometimes, we look at the clock, and it’s 4:00 AM, and we are still doing work. I think those have been some of the more difficult things for me.
What are your plans and aspirations for the future?
Leslie Jones: Two things are very important to me. People always ask us what we are most proud of about 1010. For me, it is the fact that we can expose our community – the greater community — to all of these Black-owned wine brands. With that, it’s really important to expand. We want to be the go-to in Los Angeles for pointing people toward these different Black-owned wine businesses. We have done it before where people are having an event and have asked us to recommend Black wine companies. So, instead of people having to look around at all of these different places and Google search, we want people to know that they can come to us, and we will be able to connect them with those winemakers.
Although we may not make any money off that, the goal is to amplify the brands that we feature in our bar and support them in any way we can. The bar has been doing so well that we definitely want to also expand to other locations, but we want those locations to be creative. So, maybe not just a brick-and-mortar like we have right now. But we would love to open a bar in a museum, hotel, or airport. Those are things that interest me that I’m hoping that 1010 will grow into.
LeAnn Jones: I want to continue to be a student of wine. So, when people ask what is next for me, learning more about wine and becoming a wine expert always comes up. Also, learn more about the wine industry, which will help us expand.