Business

How Marvina Robinson Built Her Stuyvesant Champagne Business

Marvina Robinson loved champagne as a “broke college student,” when she and her friends would gather enough money to buy a bottle or two, for no reason, other than to have fun.

From then on, he had a goal: to create his own brand, and where to watch it.

In February 2020, after more than two decades of working on Wall Street, Ms. Robinson, who is now 45 years old, launched B. Stuyvesant Champagne, named after the Brooklyn neighborhood where she grew up.

On June 30, he opened a 2,000-square-foot tasting room at the headquarters in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where he began to host “sip and chat” regularly featuring his face, and hopes to host other events, including weddings close.

Ms. Robinson built her business from the ground up. Not only did he make all the legs himself, he also provided all the money. “I don’t have any investors, no capital, this is all me,” he said. Its products are produced in Epernay, France, part of the country’s Champagne region, and imported to the United States. This brand offers many types of Champagne, including safe, high safe and rosé.

As one of the few black women with the Champagne label, she was met by some of her peers. “When I go to a show, I get, ‘Is this really Champagne?'” he said, adding, “I’ve learned to block it out.”

The entrepreneur, as he tells it, has little time for entertaining skeptics. While completing her headquarters this year, Ms. Robinson launched a line of glassware, the Anivram Dining Collection. He partnered with chocolatier Roni-Sue’s Chocolates, in Lower Manhattan, to make truffles for him and a variety of B. Stuyvesant Champagnes. But he has plans to introduce a vending machine with his products.

He said: “This is not an easy road for me. But if you build it, they will come. You just have to believe in your business practices and your goals, it will come out at some point.”

I don’t have anyone to turn to when I’m working on this. I am a woman. I am black. To be honest, I didn’t trust many people because many people rejected me. I got a lot of negative comments like, “This isn’t your garden. This isn’t your yard. This isn’t what you’re good at.” I just said, “Okay, I’ll figure this out.” myself.” And that’s exactly what I did.

I was fired from three or four vineyards. I’m fine with that; I looked at it like, this is not right for me. Then I met a vineyard owner and I liked him because he would answer all my questions. He likes what I want to do, and that’s what I like about him.

There are people who judge you only based on what you look like. So, you have to prove yourself. I will always be tested because I am not the norm. Even when the sellers arrived, the first thing they said was, “Why should we buy B. Stuyvesant?” I say, “You have the option to buy what you like.” I don’t base my brand on “I’m a woman” or “I’m black.” I lead in the quality of the product.

I designed it myself: The wall is blue because that is the color of the label for our great reserve, our signature cuvée, which is the first cuvée I went on. We laid new ground. We were at the Navy Yard, in the old building. This place is very interesting: gray walls, not beautiful. We invest time and money into space.

When people come to an event, we want it to be an experience. No two events are the same. I guide everyone through sweetness. I talk about my adventures in France, and I recommend other champagnes. There are many beautiful champagnes out there.

If you drink the wrong thing, you will not get the full experience. If you drink from a coupe, you lose your bubble. The bubbles smell good and make the taste better. You should use a tulip glass or a standard white wine glass because it opens but is not too wide. It allows the champagne to breathe, but it doesn’t open up so your cuvée will warm up too quickly or go too fast.

I go through this all the time. Even building this new space, I was scared. I was nervous because it was very expensive to build a beautiful space. Sometimes, when business slows down, I panic, “Oh, gosh, it’s slowing down.” Every business has a cycle.

I’m going through those feelings. But I look at people who celebrate with champagne, and it makes me happy. We had three wedding requests for our champagne just two weeks ago.

People ask us to make boxes for their guests or for brides and grooms. Last year, we had a New Year’s Eve wedding where they made a toast of Champagne and they wanted some of the bigger bottles. At other weddings, each guest receives a bottle of Champagne in a wooden box with a custom stamp.

People think champagne is a celebration. You pour this bottle, you see bubbles, fizz, you are happy. So, it goes hand in hand.

Although for me, it can be opened at any time. It’s going to drink.

We go to B. Stuyvesant and spread well in the United States and all over the world. We enjoy that. It took us years to get here. We also sell glasses from the Anivram Dining Collection. In 10 years, we are going to toast the NBA and choose B. Stuyvesant for the celebration of the game. That’s what we’ll use for toasting.

This interview has been slightly edited for clarity.

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