Didier Loustau & Susan Quinn, Co-Founders of ToutSuite Social Club – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member
A chance encounter four years ago is what brought together Tout Suite Social Club’s Didier Loustau and Susan Quinn. Didier, at the top of his game in the wine marketing business, and Susan, an innovator in streaming media were the perfect pair for a project as dynamic as Tout Suite Social Club. The pair produces several live streaming shows, including 5ive O’clock Somewhere, Meet Your Maker, and Tasting in the Dark. We are proud to have these groundbreaking individuals as a part of our Drink Careers 101 Advisory Board.
What were each of your paths into the wine industry?
Susan: Coincidentally, I grew up making serious garage wine with my family (my jobs: bottle washing, grape picking, occasionally working the cork machine) but we had nothing to do with the wine business. I was drawn to San Francisco for a career in high tech in the mid-90s. In 2009, I was inspired by the recession to create a social streaming video community, real world and online, to help the entrepreneurs, or the “makers,” of great products to connect directly with their customers in an authentic live, interactive experience using technology to make those connections spread far and wide. Fortunately, I met my partner Didier who is equipped with so much wine knowledge, friendships, and many skills, too many to mention. So my newest tech venture involves lots of trailblazing people, interesting human stories, and excellent meals that pair perfectly with great wine, cocktails, artisanal spirits and beer.
Didier: I studied at a private hotel/restaurant school in Bordeaux. I came into wine later as a natural extension of managing restaurants. I want to mention that I didn’t go into that business because I loved it, but I figured that this would be the perfect job for me to travel the world, as there are French restaurants everywhere.
What were the steps you took to prepare yourself for your career?
Susan: As an entrepreneur by nature, I jump in and learn as I go. The only ingredients necessary are passion and drive. Passion for your work is what makes you intensely curious and inspires you to work late into the nights, dream about work at night, and still be excited to get up the next day and do it all again, and again. Drive, or tenacity, is what you need when doubt creeps in and makes your passion look silly for a minute! It happens. In my experience, you need to find a career that triggers a balance of both.
Didier: Travel/work, work/travel while putting myself in some strange situations in order to build experience. The love of the business came later.
Why did you decide to start ToutSuite?
Susan & Didier: We knew we had a grasp, or just a whiff of an idea, on a unique and powerful means of communicating. Before we started ToutSuite, we spent each day, for months on end, brainstorming all kinds of business models: a webcast travel adventure game, an online tasting club, national wine events… We kept coming back to the real human connection. Once we solved that concept for ourselves, the business instantly crystallized in our minds and the future was inevitable; we could not fathom of not starting it.
What do you hope to accomplish with ToutSuite?
Susan & Didier: We hope that people will have extreme fun with the platform and use it on their own to take connections and discovery to a new place!
How important is the role technology and new media in the wine industry?
Susan & Didier: Technology and new media are requisite for the wine industry, or any industry where people buy products, sell products and need to communicate.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Susan & Didier: Explaining it. Truly innovative startups cannot be explained. You have to experience it for yourself.
What is your favorite aspect of what you do?
Susan & Didier: Seeing the wonder and exhilaration of others (makers and consumers) who have just experienced a live ToutSuite show for the first time. And checks. Yeah, we get paid for this shit!
What advice would you give college students considering a career working in beverage media?
Susan & Didier: Be original. Be bold. Be curious and kind. Tell stories in a way that is unique to you. If you are curious and kind, you’ll find stories that were always there, just waiting to be told, that will delight your audience. If you can truly engage your audience to interact with your stories, you are now scaling friendships.
Pre-order your copy of Drink Careers 101 today on Kickstarter!