There are five key benefits to being a Wine Guide: fun, friendship, flexibility, fulfillment, and financial reward. We call them the 5 Fs. Our Wine Guides bring them to life, and we proudly share them as the defining benefits of the job. Emerald Director Elizabeth Allen is a mother and military spouse who says that, for her, there is a 6th F that ties it all together. We asked Elizabeth to tell her story on the main stage at Harvest 2019, our national conference for Wine Guides. She killed it. Now, she’s sharing her story on our blog so you, too, can be inspired by the 6th F.
At Traveling Vineyard we use 5 Fs to encompass all of the incredible benefits there are to being a Wine Guide. Everyone has different reasons for becoming and staying a Wine Guide, but most of them can fit into one of the Fs. In my world, I like to roll them all together into what I call my 6th F. But first, let’s take a look at how the original 5 have played a role in my life.
Fun comes first
This business is FUN! As Wine Guides we get to meet fun people and we get to spend time with people doing one of the most fun things—drink wine! Most people can’t say their jobs are this much fun. The highlights of my year (outside of the adorable things my children do) usually revolve around the fun had at Traveling Vineyard events, whether it is wine tasting events, regional meetings, incentive trips, elite leadership training retreats, our national conference, or just spending time with my favorite wine people. It’s always fun.
Flexibility is a must
Flexibility is a must, especially when you’re a military spouse, like me. You may have heard the various military branch mottos. Semper Fi for the Marines means Always Faithful. Semper Paratus for the Coast Guard means Always Ready. Well, I’ve heard it said that the motto of the military spouse is Semper Gumby—Always Flexible.
My husband proudly serves in the U.S. Coast Guard. As an active duty spouse I am incredibly used to having Plan A fall through to Plan B … only to have a curve ball show up and need to settle on Plan C … then something happens and we have to skip Plan D and go right to E. Only to get that 11th-hour phone call that says plan A will work after all! The ability to be flexible and thrive in the unknown is vital to not losing your mind as a military family. I am so thankful that Traveling Vineyard offers me the flexibility to put my family first and still create significant income on my own time.
When my husband is on duty he needs to be fully on duty, not worrying about who is going to pick the youngest up from school or whether or not someone will be home when the older kids get off the bus. He can focus on what he needs to do because I’m able to be flexible with my Wine Guide life to suit our family life.
Traveling Vineyard offers me the flexibility to put my family first and still create significant income on my own time.
I was most thankful for the flexibility of this business last fall when Hurricane Florence forced us to evacuate our brand new North Carolina home. My husband had to report for duty so I packed up the kids and ran from the flood waters down to Florida where I spent a fun week with fellow elite leader Penny Fitzgerald. The flexibility allowed me to run a couple of online events for past Hosts and Guests who weren’t in Florence’s path. Following our evacuation we had six weeks, yes six, of no school. If you’re a parent, let that sink in a moment. Imagine, if you will, that you just finished summer vacation—the longest summer vacation ever—and then after five glorious days of the kids getting settled into their routine, you now have a second summer. If I’d had a conventional job, I would have been in the poor house trying to find daycare for all the kids while I went to work during their hurricane vacation. Thanks to the flexibility of Wine Guide life, instead of breaking the bank on a second summer vacation, I continued to work remotely and we spent many of our days helping with local storm and debris clean up.
Friendships make it all worthwhile
Without wine, I wouldn’t have had that evacuation option at my friend Penny’s home—whom I met through Traveling Vineyard. Wine has brought so many people into my life and I believe I am better because of them. I am a firm believer that it takes a tribe to do almost anything, and as entrepreneurs—women entrepreneurs especially—we are stronger together. This business has led to some lifelong friendships for so many of us. In my world there are five incredible women I know I can turn to in any situation, wine or otherwise, and they will have my back. They will share in joyful occasions with me, and cry with me when things are hard. We have encouraged one another through stressful times and celebrated together through birthdays, births, graduations, and more. These five women make all the hard parts of entrepreneurship worth it. We have traveled the world together but my favorite experiences are when we are just able to be together in the same room, sharing a bottle of wine, sharing life, and being ourselves.
Financial reward—because money matters
Financial Reward is probably one of the most common Fs that attract Wine Guides to Traveling Vineyard, and the reward doesn’t have to be a big dollar amount to make a huge impact. About five years ago I was so excited to buy the kids new winter coats. Our kids don’t want for much (and we have very loving and doting grandparents who enjoy spoiling them) but that year I was buying their winter coats all on my own with wine money. I got to ask my daughter Aria, (she was probably three years old at the time) what color coat she wanted. She had always been such a good sport about just wearing whatever we put on her, which was usually Noah’s hand-me-down coat, but she got to pick this time. She picked purple by the way. And I paid for it with wine money. A year later we also bought a sweet new ride—a Chrysler Town and Country minivan (don’t be too jealous) also with wine money, but those coats still have a bigger emotional impact on me than the van did.
I’ve used wine money for a lot of things big and small. Anyone who attended Harvest with us this past year will know that the truck my husband drives, MY truck if you will, was purchased with wine money. We get to live in an amazing little town only three miles from Topsail Island in North Carolina, a vacation paradise! That doesn’t come on an enlisted Coast Guard salary. This past January when we went through a partial government shut down, the Coast Guard was one of the many departments that wasn’t receiving a paycheck. Unfortunately the Coast Guard can’t just not show up for work so I am incredibly grateful for the income Traveling Vineyard brought me through that period of time. We operated as a one income family for a while and the only reason we didn’t panic, is because we had wine money.
Fulfillment brings extra meaning
Traveling Vineyard’s fifth F is also the most important for many: Fulfillment. I don’t know about all you other parents out there, moms especially, but I know that I sure am guilty sometimes of putting everyone else’s needs above my own. For a long time I feel like I lost a little of what made me me. I was a mom and I was a spouse but I wasn’t Elizabeth anymore. As moms, especially when the kids are little, everyone else needs to be cared for first. I got lost. I forgot some days what made me me. Traveling Vineyard helped me to find myself again.
Nothing fills my heart more than helping others reach their dreams. To me, that’s what true leadership does.
Now, I have something that lets me be an individual outside of being a mom, spouse, taxi driver, lunch maker, etc. One of the most fulfilling moments of my Wine Guide journey so far was being honored for the Spirit of Leadership Award in 2018 at our national conference. Nothing fills my heart more than helping others reach their dreams. To me, that’s what true leadership does. This past Harvest I had the honor of being a Keynote Speaker—telling the story I am telling you now—and this filled a part of me I didn’t even realize needed to be filled. To be able to share my story and have it inspire just one person, lit a fire in me in July 2019, and it has not dulled.
The 6th F: Freedom
All of these things roll together into my 6th F: Freedom.
The fact that this job is fun means that I’m free from the mundane environment of a typical job. Because this job is flexible means I am free to work where I want (some days I’m taking conference calls on the beach), and I can continue to support my family no matter where the Coast Guard sends us. Close friendships give me the freedom to be myself and to ask for and give support freely to others. I have the freedom to shop without needing to first check my bank account and to practice self-care, like a much-needed massage, without guilt that those dollars should be spent elsewhere. This industry, and Traveling Vineyard especially, bring so much fulfillment in so many ways from personal recognition to opportunities to become a leader and speaker.
The thing is, freedom is even bigger than any of the things I’ve mentioned. It’s ingrained in all of us because of where we are blessed to call home and because of those who defend it. Every day we have the opportunity to honor those who defend every single one of our freedoms. My hope is that each morning we strive to live a day that is worthy of the sacrifices others have made to allow us this life of freedom. Traveling Vineyard is a part of that. I’m incredibly proud to be a part of a company that is giving back to military families.
I proudly enjoy the freedom to pursue a path the helps me live the life I want to live. Being your own boss is always not an easy path, but with the fun, friendships, flexibility, financial reward, and fulfillment I’ve found in Traveling Vineyard, I’m never walking it alone.
About Elizabeth Allen
Elizabeth Allen is an Emerald Director with Traveling Vineyard. As a military spouse, she has been able to take her business with her through multiple relocations since she launched her wine business in 2012. As a mother, she has been able to work the hours that work for her. Today, she and her family are based in North Carolina where she is discovering new perks of the #wineguidelife every day. Elizabeth Allen is one of the many military spouses who inspired our charity wine Sky Blossom, which benefits the National Military Family Association.