Mekala Seme Mekala Seme
Intern, Communications


March 22, 2024


Hadley Douglas wears several hats in life—mother, wife, member of the U.S. Chamber’s Small Business Council, and CEO of The Urban Grape. Among these roles is a woman creating opportunities for women to thrive in a male-dominated industry.  

The Urban Grape, a renowned wine shop founded in 2010 by husband-and-wife duo TJ and Hadley Douglas, has locations in Boston and Washington, D.C. Although this month is Women's History Month, the wine shop celebrates women daily by purposefully showcasing women-owned wines and other products through their storefront and digital channels, creating more business opportunities for women.  

“We highlight women-owned and produced products at our store, in newsletters, on social media, and in our free wine tastings,” said Hadley. “We are not just highlighting these women-owned or produced products, but we’re also actively trying to create financial pathways for people to buy from them so that the money goes back into those businesses.”  

And The Urban Grape itself is a female-forward company. From their CEO to management and their interns, The Urban Grape drives women towards success.   

“For us, it's just been very important because the wine industry is so male-dominated,” said Hadley. “It's not just in our own company where we've been helping women break into the wine industry; we’re also putting them into other roles and careers throughout the industry.”  

A commitment to inclusion for women and minorities is deeply ingrained in The Urban Grape’s business practices. The Urban Grape’s Wine Studies Award for Students of Color is an internship program designed to increase opportunities for professionals of color to advance in the wine industry.  

The couple created the internship program in 2020 in their tenth year as business owners. Since then, Urban Grape’s Wine Studies Program has seen an increase in female applicants expressing interest in the wine industry.  

“Most of our recipients in the Wine Studies Program have been women,” said Hadley. “Not only have we been seeding people of color into the industry, but also more women into the industry.”  

In many ways, The Urban Grape is transforming the wine industry by shifting focus onto the wine producers setting new standards and innovative products.   

“We're helping rewrite the narrative of who is and who isn't allowed in the wine industry and who can have a career in the wine industry by showing all of these amazing women producers who are doing such a great job at making incredible wine,” said Hadley.   

On their website, the shop has a section dedicated to shopping wines, spirits, and beers by women producers. The wine shop is also known for its innovative new methods of wine categorization. They developed the proprietary Progressive Scale, a groundbreaking method for classifying wine based on its body rather than its varietal or region, that allows customers to find the perfect wine for their palate with a short quiz on their site. 

In 2021, The Urban Grape was named Small Business of the Year by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for their business growth, innovative practices, and dedication to improving economic opportunity in their community.   

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Mekala Seme

Mekala Seme