Barefoot Wines Founders to Share Marketing Insights, Success Stories in UNC Asheville Talk


Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, founders of world sales leader Barefoot Wines, will present How to Build a Number One Brand, a free public talk, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, in UNC Asheville’s Humanities Lecture Hall. The first 150 attendees also will receive a free copy of the couple’s bestselling book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand (Evolve, 2013).

Starting with almost no capital in the laundry room of a rented farmhouse, Houlihan and Harvey grew Barefoot Wines into a leading brand with pioneering use of worthy-cause marketing and other business innovations. After winning the National Hot Brand Award for sales growth in 2003 and 2004, Houlihan and Harvey were positioned for the lucrative sale of Barefoot Wines to E&J Gallo in 2005. Barefoot Wines is now the largest wine brand by global volume sales in the world.

How to Build a Number One Brand is co-sponsored by UNC Asheville’s Department of Management and Accountancy and the university’s Family Business Forum. “Our goal is to help entrepreneurs grow strong family businesses, so we are excited to hear the insights and lessons, as well as great stories about how a global leader can be built from the laundry room up,” said Cindy Clarke, Family Business Forum executive director.

While visiting UNC Asheville, Houlihan and Harvey will meet with management students, and offer a separate presentation for members of the Family Business Forum (admission for non-members is $80), Are You Married to Your Spouse, Your Business, or Both? They will share the charms and challenges of working with your spouse, along with seven key tips for success and longevity. This presentation will take place from 8-10 a.m., Friday, March 20, in UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center, in the Mission Health System Mountain View Room.

“Ultimately, launching and growing a successful business isn’t so much about how much money you have as it is about identifying the resources you have and using them as effectively as possible,” says Houlihan. “We love sharing what we’ve learned about not only building a successful brand, but doing it as a couple. At our presentations, we hope audiences will come away understanding how to use cost-saving measures and innovations to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

Houlihan and Harvey now consult with businesses large and small and are regular guests on Bloomberg and FOX News Radio networks. They were keynote speakers at the 2014 World Conference on Entrepreneurship in Dublin, Ireland, and are co-authors of The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways to Engage and Empower Your People (Footnotes Press, 2014).

For more information, please contact Cindy Clarke, or 828.232.5091.