Spiritual Mothers: Sunshine Foss of Happy Cork Is Putting Black Wines and Spirits Front and Center

Next time you want a great bottle of wine, take a trip to Happy Cork, a wine and spirits shop with the largest selection of Black and minority-owned brands for our favorite libations.

Sunshine Foss, Happy Cork’s founder and CEO, opened her company in 2019 to provide a platform for amazing, underserved wine and spirits often overlooked by the industry. Foss has been recognized as a true trailblazer dedicated to getting these small brands on shelves. She’s amassed a celebrity following, which includes John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Issa Rae and more.

Happy Cork’s brick-and-mortar location in Brooklyn, New York, is a community gathering spot that hosts tastings and engaging events. The company collaborates with other small businesses to help cultivate new connections in the community. It also has a robust online component.

EBONY chats with Foss about why she launched her brand and how she balances her enterprising career with caring for her children.

EBONY: What was the event that inspired you to start your company?

Sunshine Foss: Happy Cork was created out of necessity. I tell everyone the wine and spirits industry found me. We purchased the building in 2016 and needed to rent the space as it was quite difficult to do so, which was the birth of the brand. When I first ventured into the world of wine and spirits, I knew I needed to give a platform to these underserved, amazing brands that were often overlooked. It’s now become my passion to highlight and show these wonderful brands while catering to the community surrounding us. 

Why is it so important for Black women to be in the spirits business?

It’s crucial for Black women to be represented in the spirits business for several reasons. First, diversity drives innovation, bringing fresh perspectives and experiences to an industry often dominated by a homogeneous narrative. Second, it’s about empowerment, creating opportunities for Black women to excel professionally, challenge stereotypes, and break barriers. Lastly, representation matters. Seeing Black women in leadership roles inspires future generations, fostering inclusivity and paving the way for a more equitable future in the spirits industry.

How would you describe Happy Cork to a friend looking for a great wine and spirits shop?

HappyCork is a wine and spirits travel shop with an emphasis on community. Since opening our doors, HappyCork has evolved to become a travel destination for all people to experience the largest selection of Black and minority-owned wine and spirits in the world. We are committed to cultivating connections and building a community through an engaging lineup of events, including tastings with small and celebrity-owned brands, partnerships with local artists and special activations with other small businesses. Unlike other wine and spirits shops within the local community, customers are like guests and are invited in to ask questions, touch the bottles and indulge in all the store’s offerings. 

How do you balance motherhood with entrepreneurship-your top tip?

Finding the balance between motherhood and entrepreneurship can be challenging. My top tip is to embrace flexibility and forgive yourself for imperfections. Each day brings its own unique challenges and opportunities, so learn to adapt and prioritize what truly matters. Whether it’s dedicating focused time to your children or managing strenuous business tasks, finding a rhythm that works for you and your family is key. And remember, it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. Being a successful entrepreneur and a present parent often means recognizing when to delegate and when to take a step back for your own well-being. Always give yourself grace. 

What is the best way for you, as a busy mom, to relax?

It’s very difficult to find time to relax; however, I do find time to travel, whether with family or solo. This does break up my months, making them a lot more enjoyable! Sometimes, even a brief pause to breathe deeply and reflect can make all the difference in restoring balance and energy amidst the daily hustle. I take deep breaths several times throughout my day. 

Updated: May 27, 2024 — 12:01 pm