Today we’d like to introduce you to Maia Ayanna Parish.
Maia, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
We used to sell cookies at our front door. I was 8. We sold the cookies for $.25. I remember when we increased our prices. People went bananas. I always had a side hustle. My first job was at Burger King. I was 15. I worked at the fry station. It was not for me. As soon as I turned 16, I quit and started working to work for The Black Eyed Pea Chain. I fell in love with restaurant life and food culture. I continued to work within the hospitality, food service, and restaurant industries during my twenties. I worked from a waitress to prep cook, to the concierge, to cocktail, to banquet server and etc. I had two jobs for over two decades. I worked for the “man” under several industries. I worked in journalism, telecommunications, Human Resources Management, Case Management for the Government, to Training Manager of several One Stop’s ( employment training centers ) in the DC Metro Area. During this time, my love of food, food service, entertaining, and wine begin to flourish.
I began private catering in around 2008. Can you say side hustle? I had a company called Silver Linings. I provided private in-home catering to couples. Food is my first true love. However, I found the long hours spent in the kitchen tiresome. Over time, my interest in wine continued to grow. I don’t recall how or why but I ended up in a wine class. I thought the class was just for food pairing, but it turned out to be an actual credentialed wine course. I sat there for the first 20 minutes and had my “AHA” moment. This was quickly followed with anger for all the wasted money on my B.A. in Journalism/Communications and an almost completed M.A. in Human Resources & Organizational Development. A forced break from the MA program caused me to take a step away. I was upset at the time, but it was a true blessing. The break led me straight back to food and wine.
I begin my wine journey at the Washington Wine Academy in Crystal City, Virginia. Been in love ever since. I got a job at the large retailer Total Wine and worked the tasting table. Total Wine has a stellar wine immersion program and my love for wine began to deepen. Over time, the customers begin to inquire about in-home tastings. I saw an opportunity and fumbled my way into creating an actual service.
I rebranded Silver Linings into The Wine Suite. I created an in-home wine tasting service. Eventually, I left Maryland to relocate back to Denver. I grew up in Aurora and most of Northern Denver. I always intended to move back to Denver, but I didn’t know when. I was concerned about the dismal wine and food scene. I’d been in the DMV for over 10 years. Talk about a diverse food scene and there is the Virginia Wine Country. I did not know what to expect from Denver.
Since moving back home, I tirelessly tried to learn the wine culture and reacquaint myself with my hometown. I lucked up and found some great communities within the Wine scene in Denver. We have 11 Master Sommeliers, 1 Master of Wine (Ashley Hausman), 3 Wine schools, The C.A.V.E ( Colorado Association of Viniculture), and over 100 plus wineries in the Grand Valley and West Elk AVA’s. They are located within the Palisades. In particular, we have Kendra Anderson. She is an Award winning Advanced Sommelier. She owns and operates Bar Helix in Rino. She is the ONLY women of color who has a wine bar from Chicago to LA. She is a phenom. I respect the wine community in Colorado, tremendously.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Depends on who you are speaking to?
As a Black Women: The industry is dominated by older white men. The wine industry struggles with connecting to people of color. There are not many black women in the wine industry. Our numbers are increasing. We are out in the world! Most people are “Surprised” when I state my profession. The head tilt is the common response followed with a no really? YES!!
As a woman: Let’s be honest, I work in the world of wine. The world of wine is male-dominated. Sexual Harassment and inappropriate behavior are common. We work in environments where people have access to copious amounts of wine or alcohol. The line is very thin. I have had some unfortunate experiences. Conversations and solutions are needed.
As a Working Mom: I have a small child. My daughter has a chronic illness. My family has been a great support system during this entire transition. They provide child care and supervision during the erratic hours of my profession. Technology also plays an integral part in my momtrepreneur lifestyle. Apps like Zoom, StreamYard, and Slack have made telecommunication accessible. Most trade tastings are during the day. Sometimes, I have to take my girls (daughter and nieces) to the tastings. There are judgments and notions about women drinking while being “mommy.” Most people do not realize we spit out all consumed wine for educational purposes. Parental guilt is crushingly present and can take a mental toll. Late night working and or studying into the wee hours of the night. Only to wake up at 6:30 am NO MATTER what because you have to get the kids ready for school. Coffee is my new best friend!
As an Entrepreneur and Business Women: I am a one-woman show and it can be tiresome. Over time, I have learned to create organizational systems and processes for better outcomes. I continue to invest in my education within the wine, social media, and technological fields. Being an independent within the wine industry can be challenging. I am not under a “wine house.” I have to pay for all my certifications, wine tastings, wine, tours, and conferences. My background in human resource has taught me to be very resourceful. I have great mentors. I ask for help….now.
As a Single Women: I live with my mother. Nuff said
So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Wine Suite | Parish Media LLC – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I am the owner of The Wine Suite and creator of, The Tales of a Wine Mistress Live Show and Blog. My events and tastings are featured at national festivals and trade-shows. I have been published in national publications like Wine Business News, Loam Baby Volume 6 Women in Wine Issue, and The Somm Journal. I am on the committee for Dinner in White and Sheer IMPACT Colorado. I am also a luxury wine and events contributor for Denver Colorado Luxury Magazine. I am a Wine Judge for the Denver International Wine Competition, Drink Pink Vino International Festival, Port and Fortified, and the Pairsine Food and Wine Competition. I was a guest panelist for The Wine Blogger Conference in 2017 and I am working on an upcoming podcast called Hungry, Tipsy, and Grown.
I also own and operate Parish Media LLC. Parish Media provides social media start-up creation and education, social media correspondence (Social Media takeovers), passive income creation, and event management. We specialize in Facebook, Instagram, Canva, Evernote, and, Live Stream Training Platforms like Periscope/Twitter TV, IGTV/FaceBook Watch & Stories. I provided free and paid workshops for clients in Denver, DMV, and the Northern California regions. I have a live broadcast called Sip & Learn which broadcasts 3 times a week on Facebook Watch TV.
At the core, I am all about pay equity, hospitality, and customer service. I love to educate people about alternative forms of income and wine education. My love language is acts of service. I am most proud of my ability to connect with people. I am a people person.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
This year, I am producing a wine event with Wines of South Africa. The theme is called Night in Wakanda. My muse was taken directly from a scene in The Black Panther Movie. I wanted to create an upscale evening filled with the sights and sounds of Africa and Wakanda. The evening will include a grand tasting with over 20 plus brands and complementary pairing from Top Chefs within Denver. In addition, we will have a fashion show featuring the 13 African tribes shown in the movie, a dance from the acclaimed Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Troupe, and an afterparty. I am very excited. Night in Wakanda will be on September 28th at the McNichol’s Building. We will also have a five-course Winemaker’s Dinner, on Sept, 27th. Tickets are available here.
My ultimate goal is to open up a full-service wine school and events space. I want to teach several accredited certifications and churn out candidates with an emphasis on minorities and women. My school will offer courses for accredited credentials, host wine brands, trade events, house my merchandise, rentable venue space, and host tastings. The face of wine is changing on all fronts. Diversity and representation are slowly starting to pick up within the wine culture. I will continue to advocate for more representation and pay equity for all parties. I want to be in the conversation when people talk about Denver and the Wine Scene. I want to be in the top 10!! Listen here!! I love Colorado. Denver has my soul and I only deal in soul work. Oh, and Pouring makes me happy! Cheers!
- Website: linktr.ee/thewinemistress | For Parish Media linktr.ee/parishmediallc
- Phone: 3018063139
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thewinemistress/ | For Parish Media https://www.instagram.com/parishmediallc/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheWineSuite/ | For Parish Media https://www.facebook.com/ParishMediaLLC/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheWineMistress
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-wine-suite-entertaining-wine-events-denver
- Other: linktr.ee/nightinwakanda