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Benita Johnson loved wine, especially the way that — when mixed with good food and good company — the drink could transform a meal into a memory. Her problem was the nearest wine shops were more than a 25-minute drive from her home in Richmond, Virginia.
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Having grown up in a household where her father owned his own bricklaying company, Johnson, 49, knew how to spot an opportunity when she saw one. So, in 2005 she opened the first of two wine shops called Grapes & Barley, which now have morphed into The Vine Wine Club, an online subscription service that delivers wines Johnson handpicks to members's doorsteps.
Johnson says starting her own business gave her the chance to shape her own financial future and, more importantly, the opportunity to turn her dreams into reality.
“You know, you’re seeing so much transition in the workforce,” says Johnson. “I think now is a perfect time to figure out what your passions are and turn those passions into livings. And we can do it.”
For African Americans who own small businesses, passion is a big part of what drives them to start their own companies. According to a recent survey of more than 2,600 people who either owned a small business or were hoping to start one, 62 percent of African American respondents said the reason they went into business was to pursue a passion. That response was 11 percentage points higher than the number for all respondents. The survey was conducted by Guidant Financial.