I am so excited to share this month’s Inspired Women post of my dear bestie, Mary Allison Wright. There is nothing quite like watching your friends step into their creativity, their power, and the fullest expression of who they are. That is the honor I have had of witnessing first hand with Mary’s ambitious growth and establishment into the wine world and beverage community. Mary’s passion is undeniable and her attention to learning and perfecting her craft has been an inspiration to me and those that know her. But the most inspiring thing about Mary is how she treats people. People who come into her wine shop, her bar or the restaurant. People who work in the industry that would maybe be seen as competitors that she treats like peers and family. This sense of selfless giving to her community is the same passion that has made her studious efforts in wine so fruitful (pun intended). Also, it doesn’t hurt that she is the split incarnate of Lady Gaga and Dolly Parton. I mean, she is a total badass. And a totally inspiring woman.
Tell me about your background, both professionally and personally.
I’m from Chattanooga, TN, where I met my husband (life and business partner) McLain Hedges. What started out as two kids going on Phish tour together, evolved into our first business together after college as Music Promoters (Dogwood Productions). However, we were entrepreneurial long before that, selling Phish, STS9, and Widespread Panic floor mats that we printed at his dad’s factory to sell on tour so we could stay on tour – lol. The common theme for us besides music has always been a love for eating and drinking, so in about 2011 we realized our hearts may have been with the music, but our souls were being called by food + beverage. We considered a move to Atlanta (where our music business was based) for the industry change, but after several trips to Colorado to promote shows (or just see music for fun), we realized Denver was not only raw with the youth of its scene, but teeming with opportunities, and we wanted to be a part of its growth and shaping the direction it would go.
What inspires you on a daily basis?
So much! My friends, my gorgeous badass of a mom, my baby brother, my coworkers, my industry peers, music, books, the mountains, the sky (hello, ADHD), but most of all my husband. Also Dolly Parton.
What are ways you seek to find work/life balance? I’m selfish with my personal time when I can be and I schedule time for my workout, for reading, and other things that serve me in a holistic way. On the flip side, when I know there’s a busy day (or week) ahead or someone needs my time, I lean into that flow instead of trying to make it compete with my needs that day. For me this creates sacred days and rituals that I keep for myself as often as I can, while not trying to fight the chaos on days when there isn’t time but embracing it for what it is.
What motivates you professionally?
My staff and coworkers are my daily motivation, but outside of that there’s an entire cadre of people that inspire me in my industry to keep pushing, keep growing, and stay rock’n’roll.
What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered as a female entrepreneur?
There’s always an assumption that I’m not in charge either because of my age or gender (or a combination), or that I couldn’t possibly have the knowledge or expertise needed to be in my role so people feel the need to make me prove myself (I guess perhaps because of said age/gender combo). I use these instances to further fortify my armor of self-esteem and courage, by using their bullshit to my advantage – like adding protective layers instead of letting it penetrate what I’ve worked so hard to build. In the worst of instances, I like to employ the southern adage, “tell them to go to a hell in a way in which they look forward to the journey.” That allows me to remain hospitable while standing up for myself.
What is on your music playlist currently?
LOTS of old country (Waylon, Willie, Dolly, Loretta, John Prine), some new (Sturgill, Margo Price), Maxo Kream, Three 6 (always), Ween, LCD, Big K.R.I.T., and Grateful Dead (usually Dick’s Picks).
What books are you reading and/or looking forward to reading?
Currently reading Ruth Reichl’s Save Me The Plums (she’s a total queen), and looking forward to reading the Philip Pullman’s second in The Book of Dust series when it comes out at the beginning of October.
Could you please describe your personal style?
Waylon Jennings + Mick Jagger + Missy Elliott + Laura Lee + Jimi Hendrix
What is the most-worn item you have in your closet?
That’s probably a three-way tie between my Saltaire Life kimono, a rolling stones t-shirt my dad bought me at a show in 1992, and a pair of Bershka leopard print jeans.