Smart Girl Stories
Nicole Heere Housewife Rebellion
Stories of inspiration from Smart Girl Stories across the globe. From Canvas to Cork: How One Artist Made the Leap into the Wine Industry

From Canvas to Cork: How One Artist Made the Leap into the Wine Industry

Throughout my entire life, I have been immersed in the world of art. I have studied art since I was a child and took up oil painting at the age of 7. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UTSA and have been working as a professional artist since 2011. I began my career as a street artist in New Orleans, then moved up to gallery representation and exhibiting at art fairs. I have done international collaborations (including art for a theatre in Poland and a wine label in The Netherlands), and Vogue Paris has featured me.

Painting Is My First Love

I would say painting is my first love. I enjoy being in the “zone” even when it seriously challenges me. But the art business, I have a love/hate relationship with. I have success stories and awful stories about working in the world of fine art. It’s a business that has almost no regulations. Pricing varies depending on who the buyer is. Galleries don’t like disclosing what a painting has sold for, not even to the artist. Art gets knocked off and distributed. I worked with an art dealer who ran an organization that felt dishonest and misogynistic, and he became unhinged when I cut ties with him. I’ve had three months’ worth of art-making get lost in transit – thankfully recovered, but you can understand the emotional toll that took. I’ve even been a part of an art heist – where my art was stolen off of the walls of a gallery. To be honest, to this date, that art heist is the greatest compliment I’ve ever received as an artist – they chose my work and risked jail time for it! In the world of fine art, sometimes you have to take these hits to get ahead. And sometimes you think you’re getting ahead, but you’re really being taken advantage of. I would advise artists to thoroughly vet any gallerist or art dealer before working with them and never make a deal on a handshake.

My Art Is Fun And Approachable

My art is fun and approachable, even though it can deal with tough topics, particularly “women’s work” and our places in society. Inspired by Andy Warhol’s approach to marketing art, I wanted to make my brand bigger than just the art itself. He had The Factory. It was the coolest place to be in NYC. I’m not nearly as cool as Andy Warhol, and I’m a suburban mom. We don’t go to cool places to party, but we do get together to drink wine and discuss our lives. I wanted my art to be at the center of that. So, I decided to build a wine brand. And to use the brand to create a community of like-minded women – much like Warhol used The Factory to build a community of like-minded creatives.

Pivoting To Wine

In true artist fashion, I first tested the idea of a wine brand at an art fair. I placed some mock-up labels on wine bottles and exhibited them at the Saatchi Art Fair in Dallas. They were not for sale, but the response I got was better than I had hoped. Women loved the bottles and wanted to buy them. At the end of the four-day-long art fair, a well-respected artist told me that everyone walking by his booth was talking about Housewife Rebellion wine. He said whatever you do next, it should revolve around wine. So, at the end of the art fair, I pivoted to wine. I spent two years building the wine business. Finding the right partners. Finding the right wine. Navigating the legalities of licensing and permits. Nailing down the brand design and attitude. Building a strong foundation is a must if you enter the alcoholic beverage industry. It’s highly regulated. Coming from the art industry, I welcomed some regulation. I have partnerships with two wineries. They offer me complete support and, at times, have held my hand through this business. They believe in the brand. I think if my brand was typical of what you see on wine labels – like if it was my family name – I would not have the support I have today.

Texas Wine Making

I’m a Texan, and I work with Texas wineries. Texas wine-making is a fast-evolving industry, and I am honored to be a part of it. Decades ago, when Texans first entered winemaking, they made mostly sweet wine. The vines needed to mature, and farmers were still learning how to grow grapes in the various Texas AVAs. But that was a long time ago, and all of that has changed. Texans are winning wine competitions in California and inspiring European wineries to experiment with non-traditional grape varieties. Most importantly, Texans are producing great wine! But for some reason, many people still turn their noses up at Texas wine. What I love about our brand is that you don’t know that what’s inside the bottle was made in Texas. I tell you after you compliment me on how good the wine is. I’ve heard many times, “Your Pinot Grigio is the best I’ve ever had”. Followed by a look of pure shock when I tell them “it’s Texas wine”. I hope the Housewife Rebellion wine brand can change the stigma around Texas wine because that stigma is outdated and simply not true. Most Texas wine labels lead with the fact that it’s Texas wine; we do not. We prefer telling you only after you’ve tasted it. So our brand offers two shock factors: first, the rebellious labels, and second, delicious Texas wine.

Housewife Rebellion wine company is a very young brand, launched in 2024. I am still navigating the business and figuring out how I want to grow the brand. Do I want it to stay an indie brand, or do I want it to expand beyond that? I still don’t know the answer to this. How I navigate the wine brand will affect the value of the art. Mentally, I’m not stuck to a business plan or an idea; this is new territory. This brand is nimble, and I am going to let it reveal itself to me.

For now, we are organizing events and wine festivals and getting customer feedback. My goal is to grow the wine club as much as possible. The wine club generates mostly guaranteed income four times per year which allows us some financial security as we navigate this brand in the marketplace.

Find Housewife Rebellion wine along with available artwork at www.HousewifeRebellion.com

Nicole Heere
Founder/Creative at Housewife Rebellion

Nicole Heere

Nicole Heere

Disclaimer

Smart Girl Stories shares stories of inspiration from writers across the globe.

We ask each writer to adhere to our Smart Girl Stories pledge. The views expressed in our articles are those of the author and are meant to spark conversation and inspire you. They don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of SmartGirl Stories. We are honored to share their stories, as well as yours. To learn more – visit us here.

Follow Me

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.