If you’ve ever been the person to bring a much-appreciated bottle of wine to a housewarming or dinner party, chances are you’ve been by Urban Grape in Boston’s South End. Co-owner Hadley Douglas splits her time between writing newsletters, cooking, and client meetings––oh, and getting the word out about The Urban Grape’s first book, Drink Progressively, which is centered around the store’s philosophy of choosing wines by body as opposed to region and varietal. Hadley walked us through a typical busy workday that extends far beyond a nine to five, on both ends.
Once we wake up, I basically go through an hour-long sprint to get the kids out of the house in under an hour. First, I check in on our social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) to make sure things are all good. I like to make sure there are no complaints or anything urgent I need to respond to. About once a week I’ll check in on our Yelp reviews for Urban Grape, and now that we have our book out, I’ll take a look at our book reviews on Amazon around then, too. I also read my business email quickly to make sure that there isn’t anything urgent that we’ve missed, especially if my husband TJ and I didn’t work the night before.
Once that’s all off my plate, it’s lunches and breakfast to get everyone ready for the day. After, I’ll try to take a little bit of time for myself. I’ll do some meditation (quickly), or I’ll walk my dog, maybe even fit in a yoga class. It's never anything too long, but it's nice to do just a little something for me.
Most days, I need to work on getting a newsletter out. In the morning, I'm either finishing writing, double checking the copy, or looking at work that someone else has done for us—things like checking the e-commerce links, editing what they’ve written, and making sure the products are up correctly. You know, all of the fun, glamorous things that go into writing a newsletter. I tend to write these late at night, and I’m always a little too punchy then, so I have to go back and edit myself, also.
10 AM - 3 PM
After that, I’m usually heading into town for meetings. TJ and I split the work for Urban Grape –– he’s the head wine buyer, and he runs our floor staff. That means he’s more necessary in the store, and I handle all the marketing and communications work, as well as managing all of our corporate partnerships.
Through mid-day, I’ll have different meetings with companies around Boston to talk about our corporate services. This means gifting, beer carts, beverage catering, in-office events, and things like stocking whiskey bars. When I go around town, I’m either trying to service our existing clients or I’m trying to get new business. Sometimes I end around 2, but 3 is really my cut-off.
If I’m not in meetings, then I’m basically doing all of the other communications work for the business. So, I’ll either be checking in with our staff from events or marketing, or I’ll be having phone calls. Since the release of the book, I’ve been doing a ton of written interviews, and have been sending out books to pretty much every single editor in America. There’s just been a ton of work around the book.
Lunch is always on the run. It is a chronic issue for me—I never sit down for lunch, ever. When we were doing the photoshoot for our book, we worked with an absolutely wonderful woman named Beatrice Peltre, who did all the photography—she has her own blog and cookbook. She would break for thirty minutes every day to enjoy this amazingly Parisian lunch, and she would just sit and eat it along with just a little glass of sparkling water. It was the most amazing and restorative thing to watch, and it’s my goal for 2018. Seriously, I have been known to eat in the shower, in the car, and in my lap. It’s just a nightmare.
If I’m in the city, I need to end my meetings by about 3 because I need to drive out to Chestnut Hill to get our kids (ages eight and eleven) from school. That’s one of the most non-negotiable parts of my day. I really, really like to be the one to pick them up from school and just grab at least an hour with them. Often, I spend a good chunk of time taking them to soccer or basketball, or helping with homework. It’s schlep time, sure, but I really like to be the one who does that.
If we’re home, the name of the game is to open a bottle of wine and make a simple but nice homemade meal to get everyone around the dinner table. That happens about 3 to 4 nights a week. We sometimes eat a little later so TJ can join us if he’s coming from the store. I love to cook and love to pair food with wine, obviously, so that's a huge, huge part of our day.
After dinner, it’s family chill-out time watching TV or reading together. TJ and one of my sons love to play chess together.
We get the kids into bed by 8 or 8:30, at which point TJ and I usually do a little bit of work tidying up emails from the day. I’ll check back in on social media and try to get the newsletters prepped for the next day.
9:30 PM - 11 PM
This is dedicated TJ and me time to just hang out and relax. We’ll catch a show, watch a movie, that kind of thing.
9:30 PM - 11 PM
If I’m not home for the evening (which can be up to a few nights a week), I’ll try and pick up the kids and then go back out into the city for an event either in the store or off-site. We work those events usually until about 9 or 10 PM. Afterwards, we come home, have a standing meal in the kitchen and just absolutely flop into bed.
––As told to and written by Oset Babur for The Thirty-One Percent