If you’re passionate about something, you can make your dreams a reality—such is the mantra that our NJMOMprenuer of the week, Aamira Garba, lives by. At 30, she had a family, a house, and a job, but it would be a love of wine that would lead her to her true passion. Wanting to inspire her two young daughters and show them that you can make your own happiness, Aamira got certified in wine education and began creating her own blends, bottling them under her label LoveLee Wine, a wine brand that celebrates living life fearlessly. We sat down with this Plainfield mom to talk about how passion is something you should never overlook in your life, how she got the name of her label (hint: her kids were involved) and her favorite spots in New Jersey she and her family are heading to now that they’ve reopened.
Let’s start with your background—how did you decide to create your wine brand?
I always did what I thought I was supposed to do. I finished college, then got right to work—I was a marketing executive at Macy’s right before the pandemic and now I’m at Audible App—and never stopped. I had done everything by the age of 24, and by 30 there was nothing that I was doing that I was passionate about. What made me happy was going to wine tastings and learning about wine, and I had an idea about creating a wine brand. LoveLee Wine was born out of love and the pursuit of passion—with the notion that no one should ever feel stuck in their lives. I was determined to make it a reality, so I started by learning about the process and becoming certified through Wine Spirit Education Trust (WSET). Right now, I’m at Level 2, but I plan to keep going when I can start in person again (there are 4 levels) because I want to learn the most I can about wines, as well as help my customers understand that I’m bringing the best to my brand.
Where did the name for LoveLee Wine come from?
When my daughter was five years old, we talked about the name of my business. I love to let my daughters see what I do. When we were talking, she said that the name should be “Goodness of Roses” and I said, I just want it to be lovely. When I saw the word “LoveLee” in my head, I realized it was perfect since Lee is our family middle name and Lee is the middle name for both of my daughters, Heaven Lee and Lyric Lee. Once we agreed to the name LoveLee Wine, my daughter wrote up a contract. Since she helped with the name, she wanted to make sure that I stuck with it.
What makes LoveLee Wine unique?
This business is unique because I am a black woman in a wine space. I’m also not in California with the vineyards, so to make it stand out, I decided to start creating custom blends. I would think—how can I make wine uniquely mine? So, I put my spin on it, like when making a blend I think to myself, add more Merlot or Zinfandel to this one, or more Chardonnay and less of the Viognier to that one.
What do you want your daughters to learn from you about your business?
I strive to lead by example because kids are always watching, but it’s also important for me to fulfill my passion and purpose. I want to show my daughters that you can achieve anything, especially as a black woman and mom. In my past, I felt like I had to check off the boxes to be perfect, but I don’t want my daughters to get stuck in those boxes. I want them to be free—I want to inspire them.
The pandemic has caused a lot of businesses to pivot. How has it affected LoveLee and what changes have you made?
In a way, staying at home has been a blessing since we sell directly to the consumer, and we are not in stores. My customers can order online in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, California, and D.C. and I plan to ship to all states except for the states that don’t allow it such as Arkansas or Rhode Island. During the pandemic, I noticed a spike in online orders, plus people are more inclined to support black businesses right now. I also started to incorporate virtual experiences and I put myself out there more by posting frequently on Instagram. I redid my logo and updated my website by working with someone outside of my business to help tell the story of my brand. I connected more with people and became more open to partnerships too.
How are you balancing parenting, your business, and the pandemic?
It takes a lot of grace, and I have to be okay with not being 100% all of the time. I say “I love you” to my family every day and I have to do at least one thing a day for my business whether it is posting on Instagram or responding to an email.
What local businesses are looking forward to going to now that they’re re-opening?
Near me, I love The Beauty Bling Bar in Plainfield and The Young Nail Cafe in Fanwood. Outside of my town, I am supporting places like Mama + Flame candles in Newark; Plant-Based Pugilist in Montclair; Above Art Studios in New Brunswick; King Elizabeth Makeup Artistry in East Orange; The Grassroots Community Foundation in West Orange; Kande Organics in Newark; Sandwiches Unlimited in Orange; and Brielle’s Gourmet Kitchen in Newark.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself when you were first starting your business?
I would say that perfection is not the goal. I wished I started earlier and took more risks. In my 20’s, I aimed for perfection and I didn’t make mistakes. People say life is short, I say life is long—do what you want to do because you will regret it when you are here, not when you are gone.