As one of a few Blacks to establish a wine and spirits brand, Marvina Robinson, founder and CEO of her boutique brand champagne company, B. Stuyvesant Champagne, launched the fine spirits brand in February 2020. Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Robinson fell in love with champagne early on when she and her college friends would return home from college and celebrate with one another. After spending 20 years on Wall Street, her dream of starting a champagne bar became an obsession; to achieve that goal she traveled to France and worked in a vineyard to learn the business from the ground up. Her hard work has paid off and she is now reaping the sweet nectar of her labor.
What is it about champagne that attracted you to it?
Champagne is what my friends and I would drink when coming home from college to catch up. We were cash-limited college students pooling our money together to sip bubbles out of plastic cups. As I got older and [more] mature, I started exploring different champagne and developing my palate. I became the go-to person for champagne suggestions.
What type of events do you enjoy hosting?
I love to host tastings; it gives me an opportunity to be more hands-on with consumers and really begin to share “champagne knowledge”.
What challenges did you face getting started?
The main challenge was not for myself but for consumers believing that I — a Black woman — [have a product that] comes from the Champagne region of France. I am always asked, “is this real champagne?” Another challenge was financing, I financed the brand myself. Initially, I was looking for investors and loans, but it became difficult and I decided to finance it myself and grow the business in increments. When I initially launched in February 2020, there were only two cuvees, now the 2022 portfolio consists of eight cuvees.
What advice would you give others looking to start a similar business?
I would suggest making sure this is something you want to do, keeping in mind it is a roller-coaster business. Keep the vision of your business consistent and do not allow other people to alter your view.
What is the biggest joy you had as a champagne grower and as a Black woman entrepreneur?
My biggest joy is when I see consumers celebrating with B. Stuyvesant, it never gets old. In my head, I’m thinking “I created that whole bottle, down to the design of the labels, foil and wire cage.”
For more information, visit https://www.stuyvesantchampagne.com.