"Why not?" is the question that kept arising.
With the world seemingly on pause and small businesses struggling to survive due to the COVID-19 pandemic, few might consider this a good time for a new business to launch or find success.
Yet, with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and the support of friends and neighbors, Arnold residents Marina Anglim and Tracy Seybert launched their new brand: NautiLife Wine.
"This idea came out partly because of a love of wine and a good time, but mostly out of a consumer insight that there is a piece missing within this industry and we can perhaps fill it," Anglim said.
Tired of their bags being weighed down by heavy glass bottles, those glass bottles occasionally breaking by the poolside or even glass being prohibited from certain public spaces, Anglim and Seybert wondered why can't there be full-size plastic wine bottles available? After all, there are already plastic cups, plates and utensils, so why not wine bottles too?
“We wanted something that would be planet-friendly,” Anglim said. “Plastic gets a very bad wrap these days, especially around waters and oceans, and we completely understand that. We embrace those causes. We wanted to create for the highest probability of recycling.”
In late February, the pair successfully launched a limited distribution of its completely recyclable PET plastic bottles of rosé wine in Florida. After its fruitful debut, NautiLife has migrated north to Maryland and officially became available for distribution and purchase on April 7.
“This wine is in Annapolis during COVID-19, when nobody is taking on new brands, because of relationships of our neighbors and the community who believe in us," Anglim said. "We are amazed, just amazed."
For Anglim and Seybert, the entry into entrepreneurship provided its own set of challenges.
“It's always terrifying. You always hit a wall. You always hit a barrier,” Anglim said. “Somebody is always going to say 'no,' but you have to say, ‘How can I get to yes?’”
Selections such as color, acidity, effervescence, flavor and so much more required the help of Melissa Smith, a winemaker in Madera, California.
“You need someone who can understand your vision,” Anglim said. “It was really nice to work with a female winemaker. We really loved the idea of a partnership with someone who could show their talents with a female-owned company as well.”
Keeping production domestic greatly assisted in keeping the price of the wine down without sacrificing the quality. A bottle of NautiLife rosé typically sells for between $11.99 and $12.99.
“We were really lucky to work with a winemaker who was able to help us understand the complexities of wine,” added Seybert.
The two also partnered with Artisan & Vines Distribution, which has helped place NautiLife in Port Tack Ltd. Wine & Spirits in Arnold and Dawson's Liquors in Severna Park.
“They are very tied into the community,” said Eric Platt, the president of Artisan & Vines. “That was a big thing for us.”
An empty glass wine bottle weighs between 500 and 700 grams, while a plastic bottle from NautiLife weighs just 57 grams.
“The product … had an interesting niche that fit in really well with all the water and the boating community,” Platt said. “We saw an opportunity."
The PET bottles are more durable than their glass counterparts and weigh about 85% less, which leads to a safer and easier transport.
“This is a perfect, fun gift to bring if you're heading out to someone’s pool or on their boat, or to the beach," added Seybert.