National entrepreneurship month feature: Destiny Burns, CLE Urban Winery
After a career in the U.S. Navy, COSE member Destiny Burns fulfilled her dream of opening an urban winery. Hear about her entrepreneurship journey and learn more about her unique business.
With the right combination of vision and passion, any career path can lead to entrepreneurship. For Destiny Burns, it was after 20 years of active duty in the U.S. Navy, followed by 13 years as a business development executive in the defense industry in Washington DC, that she began her entrepreneurial journey.
More than 30 years after leaving her hometown of Cleveland, Destiny was ready to move back home and fulfill her dream of opening an urban winery. With her passion for wine, advanced degrees in business, and training in the food and wine industry—as well as the expertise of Winemaker and VP of Operations Dave Mazzone—Destiny founded CLE Urban Winery in 2016.
The business has expanded to provide more than just opportunities to drink wine. Destiny refers to CLE Urban Winery as a community center and is proud to finally offer such a multi-faceted experience in her beloved hometown.
In honor of November being National Entrepreneurship Month, here are three key takeaways from Destiny’s journey running her own business.
A philanthropic purpose is priceless. With her entire life dedicated to service—serving her county and her community—Destiny’s advice for entrepreneurs is to not only focus on the bottom line, but to bring something into the model of your business that brings you joy.
In that light, Destiny has formed key partnerships with local organizations including Dobama Theater, Graffiti HeArt, Greater Cleveland Foodbank, Hunger Network and The Cleveland Vegan Society. For Destiny, these partnerships are what recharge her and keep her going.
“That’s what feeds my soul. It’s the reason why I became an entrepreneur in the first place.”
Small businesses need flexibility with products and services. We saw it all through COVID—businesses pivoting their focuses and coming up with new ways to appeal to their audiences during unpredictable times. While CLE Urban Winery was shut down at the start of the global pandemic, they had to find new ways to connect and sell. They accomplished this through the creation of wine tasting boxes, which include five samples of wine and a small pairing of food—as well as instructions and wine descriptions. It was important to Destiny for the wine tasting experience to continue while her customers were safe at home—and to remain part of the experience by personally delivering the boxes herself.
Additionally, during COVID, they reinvented themselves by creating an online shopping platform—CLE Urban Winery now ships anywhere in Ohio.
A good brand is always looking for new ways to be creative. In a market that has its ups and downs, as well as countless competitors, creativity is key for survival. One way that CLE Urban Winery maintains a competitive edge is through its ability to cross over different consumer segments. In recognition of the steadfast popularity of cocktails, Destiny and Dave developed wine cocktails. A favorite wine cocktail among patrons is called the Cleveland Manhattan and is made with blueberry Merlot. The winery also appeals to craft beer drinkers through its creation of Hopped in the Heights—a dry hopped combination of Sauvignon Blanc and beer.
Destiny has also created a CLE Urban Winery wine club—currently comprised of approximately 145 members—who she refers to as her VIPs. The red-carpet treatment for these VIPs includes special perks such as access to wines created just for club members, behind the scenes access to festivals, and other unique opportunities for wine exploration and education.
Other ways that CLE Urban Winery is creatively bridging gaps among consumers and helping people explore and think about wine differently are included in the winery’s strategic plan. Their goal is to create a wine makers club with customers who wish to learn how to make their own wine, as well as more formal educational wine tasting opportunities.
You can learn more about CLE Urban Winery and Destiny’s journey as an entrepreneur by listening to episode three of the COSE Small Business After Hours Podcast. You can also check out this short documentary in celebration of CLE Urban Winery’s fifth anniversary