Twin Liquors Interview with Sandra Spalding
In an industry filled with friendly faces and hospitality professionals, the Director of Marketing for Twin Liquors, Sandra Spalding, somehow has a smile that shines through them all. Sitting down with Spalding was one of the many highlights to my 2018 San Antonio Cocktail Conference experience.
While I was supposed to be interviewing Spalding, the second that we sat down, our conversation just organically evolved. Questions that had been scripted and written out, were answered as she opened up, naturally talking about her life and how she got to where she was.
How did she get started in the industry?
Spalding started young in the hospitality industry. Growing up in a family with strong Italian roots, hospitality and service has been in her since birth. She started out waitressing California, where she gathered an extensive knowledge of the wine industry, both in the American wine regions and all over the world.
What brought her to Austin and Twin Liquors?
After getting married to her husband in California, she was yearning for a change of pace from the California lifestyle. The couple considered other cities around the United States, then settled in Austin, where her parent-in-laws resided. From her move she found her way to working at a Twin LIquors as a store member, back when Twins was a smaller Austin-only franchise. From there she worked her way up through the ranks and now finds herself the marketing manager over the company!
Did she always plan to be the head of marketing?
No, in fact, she went to college and majored in Art History. Reflecting on the work that she did in college analyzing art pieces throughout European and American history, it’s not hard to see how that experience can translate into excelling in the wine and spirits industry. “In both fields you have to excel at finding the intricacies and the details in the subject,” says Spalding. “If anything, majoring in Art History prepared me even more for the career that I have today.”
Does she prefer spirits or wine?
The question isn’t as simple as it seems. Her tastes can fluctuate based on the season, time of day, and even the event. “Well, last week I was drinking wine. Of course during the Cocktail Conference, I’m sipping more on spirits and cocktails,” said Spalding when questioned. “I am working on getting my certification for the level three award in wines from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. So while I have been sipping on cocktails, after this weekend, I’ll go back to drinking, sampling, and tasting wine in preparation for the test.”
What is her favorite wine?
Another hard question. It depends on the time of day, and the season. Typically though, she prefers a wine from the Rhône Valley or the Burgundy regions of France. More often than not she will reach for a glass of Pinot Noir above others varietals as well.
Does she have any advice for women in the industry?
Without getting too much into politics and current events, I wanted to get Spalding’s advice for women that are emerging in the industry. Not only for how to deal with the workplace, but on how to advance and move up in an industry that, until recently, was dominated by men. Spalding had great insight, stating you should “Surround yourself with good people. People that respect you and your goals, and understand you. Look at yourself too, make sure you are actively working towards your goals, look at your motivations, and make good decisions based off of that analysis. That’s not just for this industry either- it’s for any. Fill your circle with people who lift you up, and who you lift up. Work together, don’t talk shit, and support one another.” Simple words of advice from Spalding that can be applied to whatever job you may have.
Overall, my time with Sandra Spalding flew by. The hour-long interview was over before I knew it, and I left with a great deal of knowledge and insight. Spalding is person that knows herself and her goals, who is constantly working towards expanding her knowledge of her industry and herself. This was made evident not only through the interview, but also in interactions that I had with Spalding throughout the weekend. She would constantly be lifting up other members of the industry, greeting even those she didn’t know with a smile and kind words. I hope that Spalding does well on her Level 3 of her WSET, and look forward to running into her again at next years San Antonio Cocktail Conference.