“Stories that are documented in history can never be erased.” Cassandra is one of the BIPOC entrepreneurs ready to take on the world. Her new show makes sure we never forget.
By Vanessa Charlot
Cassandra Schaeg is a true exemplar of determination and ambition. Having built a successful career in corporate America, she chose to focus on the beverage industry, using her platform to amplify the brands of women and BIPOC entrepreneurs through her tasting room, SIP Beer and Wine. To do this, she embraced her passion for storytelling, along with her SIP Beer and Wine co-founder Theresa Hoiles, and created something groundbreaking – the Emmy Award-winning show, Fresh Glass.
This remarkable series delves deep into the realms of food, beverage, and entrepreneurship. It celebrates trailblazers whose backgrounds, personalities and journeys embody empowerment, grit, and perseverance. Fresh Glass stands as a testament to Schaeg’s unwavering commitment to elevating marginalized voices.
Fresh Glass doesn’t just bring riveting stories to our screens. It also serves as a platform to support featured BIPOC businesses, like Sip Consciously members!
The impact of Fresh Glass stretches far beyond the television screen. Further, it encourages viewers to appreciate these incredible narratives. In a candid conversation with Schaeg, she opened up about the genesis of Fresh Glass, the immense honor of winning an Emmy, the significance of mentorship, and much more.
Uncorked & Cultured: The meeting between you and your Co-Founder Theresa seems pretty serendipitous. What is the origin story of Fresh Glass?
Cassandra Schaeg: Fresh Glass is a natural evolution from my tasting room SIP Wine & Beer, which I founded eight years ago to promote wine and beer made by women and people of color. Therefore, at the peak of the pandemic, amidst the meaningful connections and stories that were being told through Zoom, the inspiration for furthering our work developed and Fresh Glass was conceived.
Uncorked & Cultured: Can you tell us more about SIP Wine & Beer?
Cassandra Schaeg: It’s located in North San Diego County; it is a place where community culture and conversation thrive. It’s where the black community can gather and celebrate life. But you’ll also find people from all walks of life representing communities of all kinds. That’s SIP– Inclusivity. It is a place for people to understand and learn about wine without feeling like you have to know anything to begin with. It’s a place to learn about what you like. I don’t care if you swirl, do you like it?
Uncorked & Cultured: Going back to your show, what does it mean to have your first season win an Emmy?
Cassandra Schaeg: I really don’t have any words. The intent of creating Fresh Glass was never to win an Emmy. I made it out of a passion to make sure that viewers see more Black and brown people. Winning an Emmy right out of the gate only solidifies the need for these stories to be told. The Academy recognized the necessity and impact of our show which is a big deal.
Uncorked & Cultured: Winning an Emmy is a tremendous achievement, why do you think Episode 2 – A Thirst for Giving – resonated strongly with viewers and the Academy?
Cassandra Schaeg: Episode 2 features Timothy Parker, former Navy Search and Rescue Swimmer and Veteran, who owns the only Black-owned beer company in San Diego. He has a career in the Navy, where Black people are few and far in between. Then he moves into beer where the same challenges exist. This creates a very compelling story. Not only that, he pays it forward to other Navy veterans.
He partnered with Donnie Edwards, former NFL football player, crafting a limited edition beer, Operation Overlord Pilsner, and proceeds go to the Best Defense Foundation benefiting other veterans. Not only does Timothy talk about his own journey in that episode but also taking a group of veterans back to Pearl Harbor. So yes, the audience saw him as a Black man, but also a veteran, beer-maker, who serves the community and pays it forward.
Uncorked & Cultured: Through your interviews with trailblazers, what recurring themes or challenges have you noticed in their journeys?
Cassandra Schaeg: This answer is difficult because as women– and as Black women– we already know the challenges and are intimately familiar with them. But what the show does is shed light on these incredible adventures, while also creating a call to action. I am a storyteller. Given where we are with education in this country, it is my goal to give these innovators the opportunity to cement their story in history in such a way that it is not modified – and that is the overarching theme. Likewise, anyone watching will learn something.
Uncorked & Cultured: What impact do you hope Fresh Glass will have on the industry?
Cassandra Schaeg: The question I ask everyone in every episode is what is the legacy they want to leave behind, and the reason for this is because I believe they already have created a legacy that needs to be documented. Stories that are cemented in history can never be erased.
Uncorked & Cultured: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout the development of this series?
Cassandra Schaeg: I’ve learned two things. Firstly, trust your gut and your instinct. Secondly, I don’t take for granted, not one bit, the guests who have entrusted me to tell their stories. It is a big deal releasing control and putting your story on television for all to see. I wasn’t going to rest until we got it 1,000% right. I held and still hold that responsibility on my shoulders, and that is what keeps me up at night.
Uncorked & Cultured: What advice would you like to share with women and BIPOC trying to navigate this space?
Cassandra Schaeg: I think mentorship is extremely important. However, the critical piece of successful mentorship is when someone who wants to be in the space does the work too. It is easy to get help when you come to the table with what you have done and what you are trying to do versus approaching someone with a blank slate. Therefore, don’t waste people’s time, they don’t have it. You have to know the level of work and research you need to do before soliciting support.