Katie Hamilton Shaffer, Founder of Feast it Forward – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member
Katie Hamilton Shaffer moved to the Napa Valley 10 years ago to pursue a career in the food and wine industry, and ended up a philanthropist and vintner. Katie is currently embarking on “Feast It Forward”; a philanthropic effort in the Napa Valley that uses food and beverage as a way to promote good will & charitable giving. Katie is releasing several beverage related products as well as a line of spices for Feast it Forward through Napa Valley’s own Whole Spice. At the same time, she is developing a web-show based on Feast It Forward. Her energy and talents are endless and we are proud to have Katie as a member of the Drink Careers 101 Advisory Board.
What was your path into the wine industry?
My joke is, in all seriousness, that I wanted to go to culinary school but they didn’t have a soccer team. So I played college ball on scholarship, then moved to the wine country after my sports career to pursue a lifestyle/path of food and wine.
What were the steps you took to prepare yourself for your career?
Think big. Dream Big. My favorite quote is “The road to success is always under construction.” Sometimes you’re not measured by your successes, but how you handle your failures. That shows true character. If anything, in regards to business I’d say I’ve learned to “try and apply.” True experience is what prepares you. Most importantly, if you’re truly passionate about something people will see that and want to follow. You must constantly prepare for what’s next.
Why did you found Feast it Forward?
Based on the concept “pay it forward,” my mission was to create not only a community, but also a lifestyle for philanthropic living. Further, this innovative media concept will bring foodies, winos and philanthropists all together under one brand while going “beyond the bottle” introducing causes around the country, alongside the chefs and winemakers that are inspired by them.
What has the response to Feast it Forward been thus far?
Though the response has been great, I’m excited for when we officially “launch.” As a start-up, the last 2 years has really been all about the plan and numbers, while sharing and promoting some of our smaller divisions of what will exist. It is a slow build.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Patience. I’ve owned other businesses, but nothing compares to this level. Not to discount my past companies, but when you’re building an actual enterprise, with real numbers and investors, there is so much involved. I’m a fast worker and mover, so naturally I want things to happen now. With that, I’d say my biggest challenge is slowing down and taking my time.
What is your favorite aspect of what you do?
My favorite aspect of the industry is the ability to truly combine all of my passions, food, wine, entertaining, and giving back. There is something to be said for finding your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life. I can honestly say that’s how I feel.
What advice would you give college students considering a career working in the wine industry?
Like anything, it can be laborious, but it sure is rewarding. List out your motivations, passions and interests while sharing your ideal positions within the industry. Apply that list and consider shadowing or joining an internship program where you can further understand what opportunities are available. It may strengthen your initial thoughts or completely change your direction. As I say, “try and apply.”
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