This week we get to feature a true #badassbosslady, Meredith Berman, The Director of TX Wine Community for Infinite Monkey Theorem. Here, she tells us about all the joys and challenges that come with being a woman in a male dominated field, while staying true to her feminine roots and managing a growing family.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at IMT
I’m generally a hedonist so working in the wine industry has been a wonderful and natural fit. There’s too much wine, too much food, and in general, too many opportunities to give yourself wrinkles and gout. And that’s why I love it! My role at IMT started as a volunteer when our winemaker and Founder, Ben Parsons, and my husband, our CFO, were still in the start-up phase in 2010. I helped shovel grapes during harvest and also behind the bar during larger events. Those were the days! We had all of our friends doing the same alongside us and it really created a sense of ownership. Since then I’ve had to get a paying job with the company and I’ve been in charge of setting up our Texas winery home with my husband – no small feat! That’s entailed distributor relations, marketing, PR, winemaking duties, business operations, tap room and community management, and all of the forgotten details any business owner will tell you take up an inordinate amount of time. It’s been a marvel to look back and see what we’ve accomplished in Texas in just a year of being open.
You seem very busy! Launching IMT in Austin (originally founded in Colorado) and expecting a baby. How do you manage it all and what is your advice for other women trying to balance family and career?
I’m so glad you asked this question. I’ve been frankly grappling with my decision to stay home with our baby and not be at IMT full-time, but rather on a contract, as-needed basis. There’s this feminist-movement-guilt I’ve had after getting my MBA, working up the ranks for a decade, and being among powerhouse women for not working full-time after the baby comes. But the more I sit with this decision, the more I realize that the movement really is about giving women the option to choose whatever they want to do with their lives; that has been liberating. It’s also made me realize that, dammit I really just want to stay at home with my child and I shouldn’t feel guilty for it! This is such a self-reflective period. I think what comes up for many women during these 10 months of pregnancy is the responsibility we have to assess our tendencies and capabilities. I know that I’m a person who can’t have too many things on her plate. I know that I take time to make decisions. I like to research. I like to create flexible blueprints for the future. I like to have the capacity to be creative without being distracted. All of these things to me added up to the decision to move into a mama career.
What advice would I give to other women balancing family and career?
It’s advice I will always remember from a yoga instructor I had years ago. She pointed out that finding your balance is not finding that place where you’re still; finding balance is the movements you make to be still for a moment, and then to readjust again. Circumstances will change, desires will change, and this isn’t the chaos, this is actually the balance.
As for being pregnant while working…I just want to go on the public record to apologize to the women I worked with in the past who were pregnant and I didn’t give adequate grace and support.
What's your favorite thing about being a woman in a generally male dominated field?
The best thing about being a woman in a male dominated field is the element of surprise. There is an admittedly irreverent satisfaction I get when there are men touring the winery and I see their reactions to my doing hard labor. I have to acknowledge my husband who has really encouraged me and believed that I had it in me to do the manual labor. With all the fantastic femmie things I could spout right now, it really has been him that has spurred this love for manual labor and him who has seen me and women as equals in this industry, regardless of position. I hope the element of surprise will not exist with the women in the field some ten or twenty years down the road, but for now, there is a rush of pleasure when men find out I put my work boots and flannel shirt on with the rest of them. There’s a lot of hard labor in making wine and while I will never possess the strength of a lumbering man, there’s not much I can’t do in the winery alongside my male counterparts. Except while being pregnant of course!
We love hearing stories from women in all fields and professions because it reminds us that the “boss” title comes in all different forms. Whether it’s CEO or mom, being a boss is about doing what feels right for you! Want to discover more about Infinite Monkey Theorem and add a little holiday pep while doing so? Join us this upcoming Saturday, November 12th, at IMT for a wine and lipstick workshop to learn about some of the best holiday pairings and makeup techniques and enter for a chance to win a killer giveaway. Tickets are on sale now on eventbrite.