In many ways, Kala Maxym is like a minstrel from the days of castles and kings who traveled from town to town to entertain people with a trove of stories and song. She can pick up the thread of a brand, a theme or a person’s life and build an evening of musical connections around it, weaving in all the senses through selections of wine and food.
It would seem then that this would be an unlikely business to go online. Yet, a true storyteller, Kala engineered her own plot twist and has made a pivot with Pinot. She’s turned Five Senses Tastings into an online experience as rich as the offline curated events she has been creating since starting her company in 2012.
Her online foray came about when an event she has been working on for Women’s History Month was cancelled and she didn’t want to lose all the content she had created.
The program was ambitious – combining stories of a race car driver (Danica Patrick), an entrepreneur, owner of Spanx, (Sara Blakely), an activist (Greta Thunberg) and a creative diva (Lady Gaga) with sensorial experiences through wine and food.
“I called it Femme de la Crème and announced it would go online,” she says. “Then I had to figure out how to do it.”
She called on a friend to help her with the Zoom call (this was before social distancing was enforced) and brought in Nicole Ward of Wine Expressions to pick the wines. Kala’s song selections were provided on Spotify and iTunes playlists for the 20 attendees.
Bolstered by the event, and newfound knowledge of Zoom, she experimented further with her pivot with Pinot and created Musical #WineWednesday Happy Hours. “Each week, we follow a different grape around the world with wine information from Nicole and songs and stories from me,” Kala says.
Her latest iteration on herpivot with Pinot is a Wine Club experience. For $15 a month (for now), members attend a monthly event curated around a theme. April was Mother Earth and May is Reawakening. Each is done in three acts with wine, a savory item and a sweet item and of course song and story. To elevate the experience, Kala offers a members-only page where they can order specific wine and food for each event.
The music selections are anything from Bach to Bon Jovi, Kala says. “And I allow myself the freedom to choose from a wide range of styles and performers in order to tell the story.”
She has also started to do online events for private clients and corporations. For those, she creates custom online sensory experiences and works with a sommelier who picks out the wine and sends it out to the guest list before the event. The same is done with the savory and sweet elements. And for the music, Kala brings in live musicians who celebrate a different aspect of the company, or the person, with a curated song and story.
The world today needs the songs and stories of minstrels more than ever, but instead of having to travel, as Kala shows us, the world is coming to them via Zoom.
Three Brand Therapy Takeaways
If you have an inkling of what you want to do, start, even if you aren’t sure of how all the elements fit together yet.
Nurture and grow your lists through social media and emails so when you do pivot, you have an audience ready to listen to you.
Cross-promote your offerings. Kala can cross promote the online membership to people at her free tastings, and promote private events to all her audiences.