“The hard times creep up on you, but I learned a lot from that misery!”
She discovered a gap in the Belgian wine market and jumped in: with her web shop Our Daily Bottle, Birdhouse alumnus Isabeau Sas is single-handedly shaking up the classic wine industry. And although
Although the past four years have not been without their hiccups, she is happy to take on the hurdles and challenges of entrepreneurial life. “You can learn from everything, from good and bad moments,” she says. “For me, it’s a matter of not giving up, of not crawling into a corner, but keeping going.”
Because of the corona crisis, the year 2020 has been an annus horribilis for many people – but
not for Sas. “Covid-19 has done little good, but it has knocked Belgium out of its digital
children’s shoes,” she says. “People were suddenly buying a lot more online, and Our Daily Bottle has been able to take advantage of that. But above all: we have a clear brand, people understand what we do and what we stand for at a glance. Right from the start, we’ve focused on this brand experience – from communication to visuals; we’re following the same path. And that has proved more important than ever in 2020, because that’s what builds trust with consumers.”
A true voyage of discovery
The great sounding name, clean visuals and loose communication style aside, what sets Our Daily Bottle apart from other wine shops? “In the first place, our core business is the online shop where people can buy wine at a fair price. But they can also take out a wine subscription, with which they receive a box containing two bottles every month. The accompanying brochure explains what the wines are about, where they come from, what kind of grapes have been used, and so on,” Sas says. “We select wines from all over the world, so it’s a bit like going on a trip from your own room. A true voyage of discovery”, the entrepreneur winks.
Sas doesn’t choose the wines at random. Three things are important to her: “In the first place, the wine must be
obviously taste good,” she says. “The wine has to be typical of the region. We want people to broaden their palette and horizons. But we also pay attention to the sustainable aspect. We work directly with small-scale winemakers and I have good personal contact with each of them. That’s how I know: they use no or hardly any pesticides on the grapes and keep the biotope of the vineyard as healthy as possible in a natural way. And they are compensated fairly by us, which is not always done by big supermarket chains.”
“We have a clear brand, people understand what we do and what we stand for at a glance. And that’s important more than ever, because it creates trust with consumers.”
A final aspect Sas looks for when choosing wines is that they have a reasonable price. “At
Our Daily Bottle is all about value for money. Wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be good
are. More so: our small-scale farmers deliver better value for money than large-scale producers.”
The tricks of the trade
The love for her profession shines through in everything she says. Sas himself only discovered in South Africa that
she has a nose for wine. “I was studying at Stellenbosch University for my masters
‘Applied Linguistics & Communication’. Stellenbosch is the famous wine region in South Africa, everyone lives and breathes wine. I quickly got into it and started working as a student on a vineyard. I obviously had the nose for it, the tricks I learned by being more and more involved with it.”
After several years on vineyards in South Africa, Sas earned an MBA with a specialization in wine marketing.
followed in the French city of Bordeaux. An internship on the West Coast of the United States resulted in a job, but Sas soon got the idea to start up her own business.
“During my MBA, I researched the Belgian wine market. It’s a very classic market, but
there was room to do something different with wine. The ball for Our Daily Bottle started rolling when I submitted a business plan to a competition run by the Flemish government in 2015. Suddenly I was in the final, so I went back to Belgium,” she laughs.
There was less than six months between her return to Belgium and the first wine box going out the door. “If only the months that followed had gone as smoothly. A lot went wrong, though. Collaborations didn’t always work out, so I had to straighten out a lot of things. With all the financial consequences this entails. In early 2019, I was really at a tipping point with Our Daily Bottle. I was suddenly all alone, a difficult
period. I then started in the Birdhouse program and that was really a breath of fresh air.”
“Those difficult moments creep up on you, but I learned a lot from that misery. And I come from an entrepreneurial family, so my parents and grandparents have shown me that hard work can get you there.”
Sas has not only found moral support from the Birdhouse mentors, but also from the other start-ups. “You suddenly notice that everyone is in the same boat. Everyone has to deal with setbacks, everyone has to pull and push something. It was actually quite encouraging to see that I wasn’t the only one having a hard time and that I had to swear sometimes. Those difficult moments creep into your clothes, but I have learned a lot from that misery. And I come from an entrepreneurial family, so my parents and grandparents have also shown me that hard work can get you there.”
In a short time, Sas managed to steer the ship away from the iceberg and onto a course towards
good luck. She’s not the kind of person who sits back and does nothing. Good or bad moments, you’ll find them on the forefront as she goes to war against anything that gets in her way.
“I’m a tough one in entrepreneurship. A tough cookie,” she laughs. “I may not be the easiest person to work with because I’m very driven and always want to push everyone forward. But I am fair. Strict but fair, I think that’s the right combination to make it as an entrepreneur.”
And whether she will make it: “Everything is really on point now. The big hurdles have been cleared, the
challenges have been processed, an investor has stepped on board and I finally have a good team with the right people around me.” And with The Tasting Room, she will have opened a flagship store in the late 2020s where customers can sample Our Daily Bottle’s offerings. For the future, expansion of the team – or her ‘Our Daily Bottle’ family, as she also describes her four employees – and abroad is high on the agenda. “Starting with neighboring countries, but we’re not stopping there. We are preparing to conquer multiple international markets with Our Daily Bottle,” she says, eager for the adventure.