6 THINGS WITH JEN PELKA
6 Things with Jen Pelka CEO and Co-Founder of Une Femme Wines
Based in San Francisco, Jen is the CEO and Co-Founder of Une Femme Wines, a wine brand made by women to celebrate women shattering glass ceilings. Jen previously founded The Riddler in San Francisco and NYC and is committed to supporting women in the wine and restaurant industry. Jen is a culinary entrepreneur who's taken countless amounts of risk with fearlessness to build a brand with a mission she's passionate about. Her brand Une Femme is for the dreamers, doers, and hustlers. Let's toast to that.
1. What started it all for you?
I co-founded Une Femme two years ago after running The Riddler Champagne bars in SF & NYC, where we realized that there is not a great modern sparkling wine brand for women. Of the $43B+ sparkling market, 100% of the top brands are well over 100 years (many are 300+ year old companies), and none are digitally native or contemporary in their approach. At Une Femme, we are building that brand. I started in the food & wine world well over a decade ago, where my first job in restaurants was as a stage (or French for "intern") at Restaurant DANIEL, the Michelin 3-star Upper East Side restaurant from Chef Daniel Boulud. I eventually went on to become Daniel's research assistant, where I was blessed to learn from Daniel's incredible curiosity, generosity, and enthusiasm for all things culinary. I first fell in love with Champagne when I was the Managing Editor of Gilt Taste, the food & wine e-commerce business within the Gilt Groupe. There, at a very young age, I was able to taste incredible Champagnes from benchmark producers like Veuve-Cliquot, Dom Perignon, and Krug -- and that's where I got the bug.
2. What drives your creative spark?
I've always loved working with, collaborating with, and learning from incredible women. There's so much we can all learn when teaming up together. I've been blessed to have many incredible female mentors in my life, including Ruth Reichl (the former Editor in Chief of Gourmet and New York Times restaurant critic) and Dana Cowin (the former Editor in Chief of Food & Wine), both of whom are investors in Une Femme. These days, I absolutely love collaborating with our winemakers, all of whom are women -- to understand their approach to winemaking style. Their craftsmanship comes out in the glass, and there's nothing I enjoy more than popping a bottle of Une Femme with the people I love.
3. Most treasured home decor item?
Our record collection. My husband and I lost our Healdsburg, CA home to a wildfire in 2020, and with it we lost our vintage vinyl collection, all of our cookbooks, collected vintage furniture, and really -- just all of it. When rebuilding our lives in our new home, we knew we wanted to invest in things that would fill our house back up with love, happiness, and great memories. Our vinyl collection is something we enjoy every single day. There's a great ritual to powering down our devices, and striking a match to light a candle, opening up a bottle of wine, and spinning records while I cook dinner. It is always the highlight of my day. Our records range from classic rock (The Beatles, The Stones, Van Morrison, The Band, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Springsteen, Simon & Garfunkel) to college favorites (Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake), jazz (Miles Davis, Brubeck, Charlie Byrd, Coltrane), soul (Marvin Gaye, Al Green), and new bands we love (Nathaniel Rateliff, The Teskey Brothers, The Black Pumas, Leon Bridges, The War on Drugs). I have a sweet spot for ladies who can belt it out, including Nina Simone, Aretha, Adele, Brandi Carlyle, Christine & The Queens, Lorde, Maggie Rogers, and of course, T Swift.
4. What’s the best advice you've ever received?
No matter how rich or successful you are, there are three things in life you have to earn. You can't buy them: A calm mind, a fit body, and a house full of love. Align your life to optimize for these three pieces, and you will always be rich, no matter what your bank account looks like.
This is great advice from Naval Ravikant, founder of AngelList and modern philosopher on wealth and happiness. He is the best twitter follow there is, and his podcast "How to Get Rich" is a must-listen.
5. It's 5 o'clock at home. What would you be pouring?
A Boodles gin martini, up with a twist, in a Nick & Nora glass. I love these ones available on Food52.
6. What are your favorite 6 accounts that you follow for inspiration?
I left Instagram on January 1, 2022, so I'll share a few non-insta resources of inspiration:
1) a great independent bookstore like The Strand in New York, Green Apple Books or City Lights in San Francisco
2) travel, literally anywhere
3) my morning walk, with my eyes open
4) my favorite podcasts: Armchair Expert with Dax & Monica, Smartless with Jason Batemen, Sean Hayes & Will Arnett, and The Rich Roll podcast
5) a sunny drive up the California coast with my husband, Charles, with the top down and great music on the stereo
6) a good long phone call with my mom or one of my best girlfriends
SHOP JEN'S 6 HOME PICKS
"No matter how rich or successful you are, there are three things in life you have to earn. You can't buy them: A calm mind, a fit body, and a house full of love. Align your life to optimize for these three pieces, and you will always be rich, no matter what your bank account looks like." -Jen Pelka