By: Kymberly Amara
Nashville-based wine company Twisted Sistuhs success story is nothing short of amazing. Ogechi Anyatonwu and Kristi Alderson have solidified a name for themselves as industry leaders both locally and within the wine and spirits space. Salon owner and stylist of Kinky Rootz Salon, Kristi Alderson, did all of the lady’s hair. Here, the ladies were brought together by inspiration and conversations that resulted in them starting a wine business. The duo was also joined by two other ladies at the time, LaKenya Bills and Shayla O’Bard, who’s since passed but legacy lives on through the brand. After initiating discussions about the concept in 2017, the women officially launched Twisted Sistuhs in 2019. Despite having little knowledge about the wine industry and the obstacles and challenges faced, they haven’t looked back and are stronger than ever.
Beyond being one of the few Black female-owned wine brands, Twisted Sistuhs is also vegan-sourced and a veteran-owned brand and offers an exceptional Bourbon Barrel Red Wine Blend, a vintage wine aged in bourbon barrels for three months. This unique wine boasts three varietals (Cabernet, Merlot & Syrah).
With a mission focused on cultivating “a society of wine lovers, one sip at a time,” the duo has already garnered a lot of local love and support. They are now poised to grow by expanding the brand into more markets. With some help and guidance, the ladies were able to connect with their current wine broker, Stacy Thomas, who helped them locate and select a vineyard that would allow them to grow. By the summer of 2019, Twisted Sistuhs was being sold in R&R Liquor Store, a Black-owned liquor store located on Jefferson Street in Nashville. By the end of their launch year, the band had found its way onto the shelves of another Black-owned liquor store, Priest Point Wine & Spirits, which is also located in Nashville on Bell Road. Twisted Sistuhs is currently in about 40 different liquor stores and restaurants and can be shipped to about 38 states.
As momentum was building, trouble was brewing both inside and outside the brand. The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered businesses across the globe and slowed down business for many entrepreneurs. For Twisted Sistuhs, wine tastings slowed down, and the ladies could not go on ride-alongs with the distributors that allowed them to get their wine into stores. Perhaps the most devastating challenge was losing their sister, friend, and founding member, Shayla O’bard, who passed away in January 2020. Despite the challenges faced by the women, they are cautious not to allow themselves to get too twisted up and have found ways to plan, strategize, and find balance in both their personal and professional lives as they continue to grow by leaps and bounds.
Specifically, Alderson shares that while running a salon by herself may be tough, “I take the time and do that [the salon] three days a week, and I dedicate two days a week to Twisted Sistuhs. Finding that balance and having people in my life who understand that I’m busy and what I’m trying to do and what I’m trying to be in the future helps out a lot.” Alderson still prioritizes self-care by taking vacations and appreciates having Anyatonwu as a business partner, which has helped her out a lot. They have a high level of rapport with each other.
“I’m still learning how to balance it all. I’m still figuring it out, but I try to stretch it a week to balance it some.” Anyatonwu chuckles as she gets honest about how she prioritizes and plans her calendar between Twisted Sistuhs and her private consulting company. While the duo may not have it all figured out, it’s good to see Black women taking the time to set boundaries, manage their stress, and take breaks when necessary.
So what can we expect in the future from Twisted Sistuhs? Besides getting back to business and taking over the wine and spirits industry, more wine tastings and public events have already been scheduled on the calendar. We can soon expect to see Twisted Sistuhs across the entire state of Tennessee as the duo shared that they have been approved to expand into brick and mortar in both Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Perhaps the most notable takeaway is the ardor these ladies go about changing the narrative on how wine and its consumption are viewed. The pair is working on a recipe booklet that offers cocktail recipes and continues to educate the masses while enjoying a nice glass of wine in the process.