Sometimes you must go through several attempts before you find your stride. Leslie Frelow, Managing Director of Vino 301 Wine Concierge, became an entrepreneur because she wanted to earn a living doing what she loved. She realized that she liked wine and loved educating people about wines, specifically Maryland wines. Therefore, she merged these interests, and founded Vino 301 Wines Concierge in January 2013.
Prior to creating her business, Frelow worked as a project manager in the public sector, in telecommunications in the nonprofit arena, and as a wedding planner. These experiences were good, but they weren’t her passion. So, she made a career pivot, and accepted an internship with a wine business in October 2012. This internship laid the foundation, and in December 2012, Frelow developed her business concept and interviewed wine industry experts. Soon after, Frelow launched Vino 301 in January 2013; had her first wine tour in May 2013, and she has not looked back!
Frelow initially self-funded her start-up, but as the business grew, financing became a challenge. While surfing the internet, she discovered Maryland Women’s Business Center in July 2015, and contacted their sr. business counselor, Angie Duncanson, to schedule an appointment. Frelow was interested in obtaining financing to purchase a 12-seat passenger van. This would enable Vino 301 to grow, and would be used to ferry clients to and from wine tasting events and to tours of Maryland Wine vineyards.
Vino 301 successfully secured financing, and expanded from 4 part-time employees to 7 part-time employees. And, since Frelow began receiving business counseling from MWBC, she closed out 2015 with a nearly 20 percent sales increase. With a strong first quarter in 2016, Frelow expects to double her 2015 sales. Vino 301 also gives back to the community and holds an annual, charitable wine tour with proceeds going to the Alzheimer Foundation. And, during Wine Tourism week, she donates proceeds from one tour to the Bowie Food Pantry.