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The Power of Vino with Joanna Barbolla

Joanna Barbolla has always been pulled into the exciting world of international wines and abstract art. After a three-decade career in New York City's corporate America, and several years in the wine business, Joanna started a second career in teaching after relocating to Florida. While both rewarding and challenging, Joanna never gave up on her first love, wine and art, and created DIVULGE D'VINO, a beautiful collaboration of one-of-a-kind, abstract art, international wine reviews and gourmet food pairings.

Listen to the full episode here.


[00:01:16] Joanna Barbolla on what she’s most passionate about

[00:02:39] Joanna Barbolla on her childhood

[00:05:21] Joanna Barbolla on her Etsy store

[00:07:50] Joanna Barbolla on why she was drawn to fashion and why she went into the business side of that industry

[00:08:59] Joanna Barbolla on what she learned at FIT that she applied to her businesses

[00:11:08] Joanna Barbolla on for people who are starting an e-commerce business

[00:12:11] Joanna Barbolla on her biggest professional challenge and how she overcame

[00:15:08] Joanna Barbolla on leaving New York City and her marketing career

[00:16:40] Joanna Barbolla on transitioning into education and tutoring

[00:18:54] Joanna Barbolla on the art therapy program she created

[00:20:30] Joanna Barbolla on creating a gourmet dining and travel club

[00:25:14] Joanna Barbolla on the first glass of wine that made her want to really learn more about wine?

[00:27:53] Joanna Barbolla on starting a wine blog

[00:29:04] Joanna Barbolla on writing her book and incorporating her artwork

[00:31:37] Joanna Barbolla on deciding which paintings to use in the book

[00:32:26] Joanna Barbolla on some of her favorite food and wine pairings

[00:34:48] Joanna Barbolla on her future creative plans

[00:35:47] Joanna Barbolla on tips for marketing a self-published book

[00:38:20] Joanna Barbolla on advice to someone who wants to self-publish a book

[00:39:06] Joanna Barbolla on her dream travel destinations

[00:41:06] Joanna Barbolla on her favorite US wines

[00:42:17] Joanna Barbolla on the possibility of a US book

[00:42:53] Joanna Barbolla on how she decides on what projects she wants to do

[00:43:32] Joanna Barbolla on her go-to wine choice

[00:44:38] Joanna Barbolla on the advice she would give her younger self

[00:49:19] Joanna Barbolla on the the biggest risk she ever took and how it paid off

[00:50:11] Joanna Barbolla on the mantra she lives by

[00:51:35] Joanna Barbolla on how her definition of success as evolved

[00:52:38] Joanna Barbolla on her dream for women

[00:53:10] Joanna Barbolla on the female pop culture icon she would be for one day



Passionistas: Hi, we're sisters Amy and Nancy Harrington, the founders of The Passionistas Project, where we give women a platform to tell their own unfiltered stories. On every episode, we discuss the unique ways in which each woman is following her passions, talk about how she defines success and explore her path to breaking down the barriers that women too often face.

Today we're talking with author, artist, designer, corporate executive, and teacher Joanna Barbolla about the power of vino. Joanna has always been pulled into the exciting world of international wines and abstract art. After a three-decade career in New York City's corporate America, and several years in the wine business, Joanna started a second career in teaching after relocating to Florida. While both rewarding and challenging, Joanna never gave up on her first love, wine and art, and created DIVULGE D'VINO, a beautiful collaboration of one-of-a-kind, abstract art, international wine reviews and gourmet food pairings.

So please welcome Joanna Barbolla.

Joanna: Hello everyone. Nice to be here. Thank you so much for having me as a guest.

Passionistas: Thanks for being here with us today, Joanna. What are you most passionate about?

Joanna: Well, that's a tough one because wine just is something that I've always, always wanted to learn about and, and understand where the grapes come from and the flavors that come off your palette. Just, it's just so exciting because it's never-ending. There's always something new to learn when it comes to wine.

And then art is something that has been inside of me for the last probably 15 years. And it's interesting because it's something that I discovered later in my life. it's not something that I started doing when I was young.

I didn't go to college for it. And it's just something I discovered in my early forties. And that's something also that's never ending. There's always something to learn. You can always create something new. There's never one piece that's the same. Every single painting is different.

You’re not following any kind of rules. You're not following any kind of guidelines when it comes to abstract art. It's all expression and emotions. And that's why I love it, because it's just, it gives you such a wonderful feeling to let go.

Passionistas: So, assuming that you also weren't into wine as a child, what were your interests growing, growing up, and what was your childhood like?

Joanna: My childhood, I was very active. I used to be in gymnastics when I was younger. and then as I got older, I got more into fashion. I went to FIT got really, really into that. And it's interesting, I went to FIT and I did not take one drawing class. I did not take one painting, that one illustration class.

I went for marketing. And um that led me to my corporate career and, and. For the last 30 years, I worked in New York City and it was very fun. It was exciting, it was challenging. I worked for very strong-minded executives, very senior-level executives. Some were wonderful, some were a little tough, but you know, you just learned to roll with the punches.

And it was, it was fantastic being in New York because I was surrounded by so much culture. And then, of course, I had my opportunities to see all the museums. And all the wine and the wine tastings, the trade shows, the culture the, the museums, the concerts, the opera. There's just so much to do in New York.

If you want culture it's just never-ending. The city never sleeps. So it was, it was really, it was really nice to be in New York City because it afforded me to become, I. Sophisticated in the arts and becoming arts an art enthusiast. And that probably led me to the painting. that was something that after enjoying art, so for so, so long and always going to the galleries and the museums and down in Chelsea where they have all the real abstract kind of art.

And I would go to the gallery hopping events on the weekends I'd come in because I lived in Long Island. And come in and spend a Saturday at the museums. I just got so into it and then I started with a sip and paint class, and then one sip and paint class led to a couple of classes at a local art league in New York.

And then I just started I set up the easel on this, on the side of my my living room by the window, and it was just one easel, no paintings. Then it just kept building and building and building. And now here in Florida, I have all my paintings with me. Yeah, yeah. And I sell them online and I showcase them when I can. So it's very exciting.

Passionistas: Tell us a little bit more about your Etsy store, why you chose that outlet for your creative projects.

Joanna: Yeah, so with the Etsy store, I started with the paintings. I wanted to put my paintings on a social platform other than Facebook, I wanted to see, Sell. I wanted to be a merchant.

So I started with Etsy and then I started putting, I started creating, I found a printing company that I was able to send my images to from my paintings. And I started creating products, home products and accessories. And that was really, really exciting. I started off with evening bags, weekend bags that have my designs. I actually use my pool bag here that's got one of my designs and yoga mats, blankets phone cases, really fun stuff. And then that catapulted into a shoe and purse line, which I also sell on Etsy, which features my design. So they're very unique. I mean, you really have to have a reason to wear them because they're very fancy. But they're fun. They're high heel pumps and, and I love wearing them. I really do. It's a lot of fun and I sell them on Etsy. And then I started an Instagram page. I started a Twitter page along with Etsy, and I built a huge following.

So I have it on Etsy, Instagram, Twitter, and then Threadless is where I have my blankets and my yoga mats. Yes. So it's fun to be in to, to be in the e-commerce business. It's nice to be able to see my designs on home products and accessories. And that's something that when I have a little more time I want to build on, I'd like to get into kitchenware.

I think that would be an opportunity that would be really fantastic. And of course, wine glasses, I'd love to put my designs on wine glasses. So that's something that I want to get into. When I have a little more free time because I am working as a teacher and a private tutor. So I have to it's finding a balance and, and being able to do what you need to do to bring a salary in, and then be able to work on your creative side where you may or may not sell anything.

Passionistas: Clearly this love of fashion has always been in your fabric because you went to FIT. Why, why were you drawn to fashion and why did you decide just to go into the business side of it and not explore your artistic side at that point in your life?

Joanna: Maybe because I never really, I never really uncovered it. I always had a business sense. I always knew that I wanted to do something that was concrete. I wanted to have you know, I, I didn't want to do anything where you would never know if, if sales were very sales are very iffy. You never know what you're going to sell, what you're not going to sell.

And I wanted to be in a corporation. I wanted to have a career where I always knew exactly how much money I was going to make. I was on my own for my entire life, supported myself. And you know, because of that, I needed to make sure that I had a good, that I had good business sense.

Passionistas: So what do you think you learned at FIT and in your early career in marketing that you've applied to your businesses on any eCommerce?

Joanna: Well, I would say promotions, marketing and promotions. Especially promotions and especially now that we're living in a social media world, there's just so many ways and so many avenues that you can go to to promote yourself. You don't really need anybody to do it if you already have a following but you could always use help. You know, you could always say, yes, I need help. along with all my, all my social media platforms, I also have a Facebook account, which I, which I promote on, and then LinkedIn, which I promote on. And mostly all of my connections are from New York City. and I just started a TikTok profile where I do little videos where I read different chapters to promote the book. So, that's really fun because I sit in front of all my paintings, I have music on. It's very upbeat, it's very fun. And sometimes I wear a crazy outfit with my hair and sometimes in a scarf and it's very theatrical and fun, and I have to really start doing more of that because I get a kick out of it. Even if I'm not selling sales. It's fun. It's a chance for me to dress up, to have fun, to promote myself and it can be very theatrical.

And when I was in Long Island, I was involved in community theater, which I really, really love. So I'm trying to get into that here in Florida. And I think they have auditions that are coming up soon than I want to go to. I think it's Music Man. I think that's the play that's coming up here in the Brandon-Tampa area. Community theater is just so exciting and it just opens up a whole new world of really creative, fun, fun people with big personalities. And it's really fun. It's really exciting. And you must know all about that because you have so many celebrities that you interview.

Passionistas: We definitely do. and I can see you in a couple roles in Music Man already. So definitely audition. Definitely. You'll be amazing. So what tips do you have for people who maybe are starting an e-commerce business to help them get traction and make sales?

Joanna: I would say start small maybe post a couple of paintings if you're an artist or if you're a designer of any kind. If you have product t-shirts everybody does t-shirts. And that's one thing I promised I would never do t-shirts. Never would I do t-shirts. So that's why I got into home products and accessories.

But I would say start small, start posting small. Advertise as much as you can. Start different accounts. Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, I hear is the big, big thing now. So start a TikTok, make some videos. Promote yourself as much as you can.

Passionistas: Stepping back to your professional career in New York your business career, what would, what do you think was the biggest professional challenge you faced during that time, and how'd you overcome it?

Joanna: I commuted into New York for, for 30 years on a train. So it was an hour and 15 door to door. and that was when the sun was shining with the rain, the sleet, the snow, the ice. You know, it was a drizzle, it was drizzling out and there were 15-minute delays, or they would just shut the train off completely and say, we're going to go back to the yard, which meant go back to where we came from.

And then sometimes we'd have to get on another train because the train died. And then luckily, the Long Island Railroad started getting all new, new trains and new double deckers. They used to call them, and I don't even know what they're called now because it's. Been quite some time since I've been in New York as a commuter, but the way that I overcame that really was just to keep myself busy on that train.

So the time would go by fast. So I would read, read. This was before I was into iPods and everything. I would just read everything that I could read, and Nelson Demille was one of my favorite authors. I would, he was so exciting. Such a quick page turner. Interesting. So I used to read all of Nelson Demille books. And sometimes I would read Daniel Steele it really depends. But I was a big reader.

And then after the reading, when the iPods got really big, I started just listening to music all the time. I'm a huge opera fan. I would put on opera music. I love French music. I would listen to French music and all of this would lull me to sleep. So I would take my little cat naps and in the morning, even though I had all my coffee, I would still, the motion of the train would always relax me. And I would nod off a little and you know.

I felt safe on the railroad. It's a little different than a subway because you see the same commuters who are all standing on the platform together, all on the same train. And I would have all my train buddies that I'd like to if I felt like chatting, I knew where they would sit if I felt like I needed to take a nap or I just wanted to do my own thing. I would sit on my own and I just, I felt very comfortable. But when I first started, it was certainly something to overcome. I mean, there was still smoking on the railroads when I first started. That's how many in the ‘80s. So, it's something that that I overcame and, and it was something I knew I had to do because I knew that if I went into New York, I would make a nicer salary. I would be able to support myself better. And that's how I really wanted to stick with, and, and that's how I built my career.

Passionistas: So what did you like about your career back in those days and why did you finally decide to leave that world completely behind?

Joanna: Yeah. Well, I mean, I liked the fact that I was always surrounded by very intelligent people — very, very smart people, very strong business-minded people, very ambitious people. And I really enjoyed being with those kind of people, real go-getters and, and senior, senior level people. And even my colleagues were just — everybody just had a strong business sense, a strong work ethic.

And I enjoyed that. I enjoyed being around people like that. and I was sorry to leave, but the whole covid thing destroyed New York City. You know, I was laid off. Everybody was laying everybody off. All the businesses closed down. I remember when I was between jobs and it was right when Covid was going on, I went on an interview all masked up with my gloves and my walking down 7th Avenue was like a ghost town.

It didn't even feel like New York. And I didn't think the job was a good fit and I just didn't want to be in the city after that, you know? And it just destroyed New York. And I said, well, if I can't make my New York City salary and I can't live the way that I want to live, I'm going to move to a place that's going to be more affordable and a better better quality of life. And that's how I ended up here in Florida.

Passionistas: So how did you transition into the education and tutoring world?

Joanna: Well, that's interesting because I started off as an art teacher. that's really how I started off. I was working at a local civic center here in Brandon, starting off as an art teacher. And then I started teaching art therapy to students with USF that are from USF. It was a course that I designed through my art and really interesting because it was great for stress reduction and coping and processing feelings. so that was an interesting class. So after I did the art, the art classes for children, and then I did the art therapy class for adults.

And then I was networking as much as I can. And somebody told me about the substitute teaching opportunities here in Florida and they are always, always looking for substitute teaching. So I did that for about two years and now they’re transitioning me into a teacher role. And I'm actually in the process of going into a teacher role with the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa.

So that's really exciting and I'm building a tutoring business on the side. I have a student that I teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which I really love. So yeah, it's, it's nice because I have so much flexibility as a teacher and as a tutor. And that's something that there was, you were very regimented.

You knew when you needed to go to work. You went to the same job every day. You saw the same people. And as a substitute teacher, every time I would pick another school, I would learn about the area and navigate, navigate through Tampa and through Brandon and Riverview, all the surrounding areas.

And that's how I really learned where I was and, and the neighborhood. so, so I like that. I like that flexibility. I like going to a different place all the time after being so regimented for so many years. So, that part to me was very appealing.

Passionistas: It's amazing that you just relatively speaking, you just recently got into art and tapped into your artistry and you're already developing programs and teaching. And so talk a bit about art therapy because I'm fascinated by that. what got you interested in that? And tell us about the program that you created.

Joanna: Well for, for art therapy, it was almost something that I feel like I was doing for myself with the abstract paintings.

Every time I would create a piece, I would put on my French music. I would pour myself a glass of wine and I would start painting. And if I had stuff going on in my mind, or if I had stuff going on in my life, this was my escape. And it was such a wonderful estate and it was, it was a chance for me to turn my feelings into creativity, my emotions into creativity and release and let go and, and, Create something beautiful because of it.

So art therapy really was something I did for myself, and because it was so, I was so successful at it, I wanted to share it. So I designed a course that I, that I started teaching to students with USF. So that I'd like to do again, but that's sometimes those hard, those jobs are, are, are not very long lived and I need something that's going to be something that's going to last and be more of a steady type of job.

Passionistas: You also, during those last few years, created a gourmet dining and travel club.

Joanna: I did.

Passionistas: Tell us about that. I just recently stopped doing that because I just am juggling too much. but, but that was something that I did in New York. First, I did it in New York City with a wine group, a wine and art group with New York City, and that's how I started the wine blog that I got.

From that, I turned this book into this. Originally all of my wine reviews from here are from my wine blog. and then I just expanded on it while I was here and then collaborated and added my art and, and that kind of thing. but the, the, the wine and art group, It was really something.

It was a network business networking group that I started in New York City and then my friends from Long Island were saying, well, why are you doing it in New York City? Why don't you do it out here on Long Island? You know? And I guess I started it in New York City because that's where all the wine tastings were that I knew of and, and all the trade shows were mostly in New York City.

So then I kind of started putting my feelers out on Long Island, thinking maybe I'll start it, but I can't I'm not. I don't want to close off New York City because that's where I spent all of my waking hours in. So I started doing both and then eventually the New York City wine tasting phased out.

And then I started wine art cetera on Long Island, and I had over 200 members. And I used to plan wine picnics and wine tastings and wine dinners, and we got really involved in that. And while I was doing that, I was going to all the trade shows in New York City that were really fun and interesting and exciting.

And I had all of this information. I would take notes, I had binders, and I would take all this information and, and take it home with me. And I always felt like I just. It was just such a learning experience for me and, and my family. You know, like nobody's really into the, into the wine business that I know of I mean, maybe there's, there's a great uncle that was in the wine business, but who knows?

Not my immediate family. They don't know anything about wine. And I just wanted to learn. And it was just very, very interesting for me because when I would go to restaurants, I would know what I would like, what I would pair well, and the types of wines when I would go through the wine list, I would know what wine would be appropriate with what, what Andre was having.

So that was really fun. That was exciting. And I wanted to bring that kind of community here with me in Florida because I didn't know anyone. I came here on my own. I have no family here and I have been trying and trying to establish myself and make friends since I'm down here.

So that's when I started Dinner Guests. And Dinner Guests is a dining group, not a wine or an art group, more of a dining group. And I thought that would be good because I love trying new restaurants. I wanted to learn about my area, what's good here and where are the places to go. And I had, I have about, I think I had close to 200 members and for a while there I was having like six or seven or eight people come to my dinners.

And then I took a break from it because I was just getting so busy with my life. and then when I tried to start it up again, because I took a break, a lot of people probably lost interest. So then I said, well, you know what, I'm not going to renew. it, it was kind of pricey to renew the group, and I would never, ever, I.

Charge any kind of dues to my members. Even when I was in New York, I never wanted to run it as a business for me is was always more of a social networking group. So because I didn't, I didn't really charge any dues. I didn't really feel like I had the extra money to renew it again, and I might, and I just got too busy. I have so many other things going on right now, and especially when I started the book there was just really no time to do everything.

Passionistas: You have a lot on your plate, so to speak. So what was that first glass of wine that you had that made you think you wanted to not just have a glass of wine at dinner, but you actually wanted to learn more about wine?

Joanna: I was at a wine tradeshow, and I wasn't even really drinking red wines. You know, I hadn't even escalated to the red wine phase yet. I was still drinking whites, and I remember going to one of the booths and there was a gentleman there that was, that was promoting his wines from Africa, and the grape was Pinotage and it was the most luscious grape, and he almost had alpha.

Pull my arm to force me to try it. He's like, it's really, you really need to try it. It's such a wonderful wine and the flavors and this and that sort. I said, okay, fine. I'll try it. And when I had it, it was just, oh, it was heaven. I loved it. So then I started really getting to learn more about the red wines and, and I think that was it.

I think the Pinotage really just tipped me off. Yeah. I don't know if any one of you ever, ever tried that grape, the peanut ta No, I've never heard of that. Yeah. Yeah. It's it's a very unique wine. I don't even, I don't, I didn't, I didn't pick it up yet here in any of the liquor stores. So there's a huge wine store right here near me.

I'm going to have to see. I'm sure they have it there. Yeah. But have a glass for us tonight. Was it really a nice wine? And then of course when I was in Italy I used to go to Italy a lot when I was still working and I had my New York City salary and I would do a lot of food like cultural tours, bus tours, and I learned a lot about wine.

When I was in Italy. One wine that stood out, that was the most amazing wine and we had it quite often with our, was Aglianico. And that's a, that's a grape that comes from like the Naples area that kind of whole Amalfi Sorento, Naples, and that was another grape that just blew me away Aglianico. So those are two grapes that I highly recommend if you're going to go to your wine store.

Aglianico is fantastic. It's a, it's a red wine, deep, full-bodied, wonderful wine, goes nice with meats. You could even try heavy cheeses with it. And the Pinot, which is really fantastic. It's just got. So many flavors to it, and, and it just has a long, long flow and it's just, it's beautiful. It's a beautiful wine.

Passionistas: That's incredible. So how did this tasting of this wine lead to you deciding to write a blog and, and really dive deep into wines?

Joanna: Well, because of the trade shows that I went to, the trade shows were so informative and I would go to wine tastings and it, whenever you go to trade wine tasting, they give you, Paper, they name the wines in front of you.

You sit in front of like five or six glasses of wine and you write about them. And then there's usually someone that speaks. You have a speaker and lecturer and he lectures about the wines and there's. Seminars and, and they give you notebooks too. And they, and they, and you learn all about the wines from the notebooks.

So I just started taking notes and learning that way and teaching myself, you know going to different places, going to different events Spanish wines, Italian wines, French wines, so many different types of trade shows that I went to. And I just said, what am I going to do with all this knowledge? I have to do something with it because I worked so hard trying to understand it and learn it, I want to share it.

Passionistas: So that's where the wine blog came in. And when did you decide to, to make it a book and incorporate your artwork into that?

Joanna: Well, so back in New York when I was doing all the wine blogs, I said to myself I should turn this into a paperback. And I think I remember speaking to one gentleman who was a publisher and he kind of poo-pooed it.

And he said, well, what am I going to it, it, I guess it didn't really fit into the type of publisher that he was. he wrote mostly Sicilian and Italian books, and I thought it would be great for me to be able to talk about the Italian wines that I learned of. But he, he, I just didn't get a good reaction from him and I thought to myself, well maybe, maybe this isn't something I should do.

And then I just got so busy with work that I didn't research it any further. and I just kind of put it on the back burner and a friend of mine. A good friend of mine in New York printed out all of the wine reviews, all 16 of the wine reviews, because I had no longer. Had the, the blog up on WordPress.

I had deleted it, but before I deleted it, he printed out all the copies of the wine and gave them to me years back. So I had them all paper and I put them in a folder and I brought them here with me to Florida. So there was no manuscript. Everything was just on paper. So I had to. Make the manuscript here in Florida on my computer and then incorporate that into KDP, which is Kindle Direct Publishing.

And that's how I created the manuscript. And then I did all the illustrations myself, the editing and incorporating the paintings in and all of that kind of thing. So it was something that I really Didn't think that I would be able to do, and I just kept reading and learning. And then I went to a book club Zoom meeting and I was learning more about KDP and how you can do it yourself and getting some pointers from them.

And that's how I continued with it. And I finally finished it and I was so excited when I got my, my author copies, I was like, ooh, this is so fantastic. I can't believe how great this came out. So I was really excited.

Passionistas: How did you go about the process of deciding which paintings were going in the book? Did you paint specifically for the book or were they preexisting works?

Joanna: They were preexisting works. They were preexisting works and when I was reading each chapter I guess just reading the chapters I was trying to say. To myself, well, if I was having this glass of wine, what would look, what would my painting look like?

You know, when I was having this glass of wine, what would the colors be? What would the shapes be? You know, what would the brushstrokes be? And that's kind of how I started just walking around my apartment with the, with the wine review in my hand and picking and choosing which would go with which. And that's how I came up with it.

Passionistas: It's such a fun book. It's such a fun book. It's a unique structure. It's not like any other book we've read and it just is so fun. Talking to you now, you light up when you start talking about wine and, and your art and you feel that when you're reading the book. It's really great. So do you have a few food and wine pairings from the book that you can tell us about?

Joanna: I'm a huge, huge cheese lover and I have a Pouilly-Fuissé in the book. It’s a lovely Pouilly-Fuissé. And I paired it with some really fantastic kinds of cheeses. And one of the cheeses, like an asiago cheese. Another one was a brie cheese, a light airy cheese. And that was really fantastic.

And I'm going to go back to my Aglianico because you know that, that's like the wine that I fell in love with while I was having my love affair with Italy. I was having my love affair with Aglianico. So Aglianico is really something that… I always love red sauce. You know, I'm not, I'm not that fancy of a pasta eater.

I love just the basic rigitoni with red sauce. And to me that's just so easy to make. And the sauce can be as robust as you want it to be, as meaty as you want it to be. And it's really I mean, they say that there's like ruling behind, well, you shouldn't have this with that, or you shouldn't have that with this.

But for, for me it was really very personalized. If I like something with this wine or if I like something with this cheese, I didn't really follow any rules. I mean, there are rules that are there, but I know what I like and I guess that's that same mindset is with my paintings. And that's why I like the abstract audit.

I want to be free. I want to be able to figure it out for myself and. If it works for me, it works for me. and I don't need somebody to tell me, well, you need to paint inside this line and you it's just not for me.

Passionistas: Well, you had so much structure in your past life, right? It must be very freeing to…

Joanna: Yes, very freeing.

Passionistas: Are you still painting? Are you still writing?

Joanna: It's funny you should mention that because I do record my dreams. I have very, very vivid dreams and I do keep a dream journal and you know, that's something that I said to myself, well maybe I can start doing a dream book. It, it's something like very, very far out in the future.

And it's something that if I had time and if I wasn't going into a teacher role and if I wasn't tutoring You know, then maybe I would start, but what I'm really, I really want to promote this book more, you know? So I feel like I'm not done with this. There's just so much more than I want to do to promote this book. Then I don't want to start a second book until I really feel like I've, I've done this book justice.

Passionistas: Well, and you're so brilliant at marketing and promoting. So what are you doing to get the book out there to people?

Joanna: So this is my second podcast, so this is one of the things that I'm doing. and I constantly talk about it on LinkedIn with all my connections from New York City.

I go to different networking groups. Happy Neighborhood is one of the groups that I go to, and you can go on any of the chapters, any of the states that have their own that have their own networking event. And they have networking events Tuesday through Friday all different times throughout the day.

And you can join any group, any Zoom. So that's when I'm focusing now on, I'm, I'm doing a B2B Zoom, networking Zoom this week. I'm going back to my roots. I'm doing a New York City networking Zoom this week. Last week I did Central Florida. That was another area that I did, and I feel it's good to go on different ones and it doesn't have to be in my area because I'm selling everything online.

So the more I get myself out there, and the more people hear about divulge dino, it doesn't matter what state they live in. Because they just go on Amazon. So that's another way that I'm really trying to promote myself. And now I, this is still the calm before the storm, because I'll be starting the new job probably in the next week or two.

So this is like a week that I have where I can really start to promote myself because I have the time now, you know? So, yeah, so that's another way. And then of course I talk about it on, on Facebook I talk about it on LinkedIn. Sometimes I take pictures of the different chapters and I post them just so they can get like a, an idea of what a paragraph looks like, or my TikTok video, that's something that I have to keep doing.

So that's another way to promote it. I've reached out to different stores around here and sent them emails, and the corporate people for Publix and wine and more, and all of those stores and Books a Million. But no response. No response. So I feel maybe there's too big of an outfit for me and I have to start smaller and work my way up.

Passionistas: Aside from the marketing part, when you were creating the book, what do you think was the biggest challenge and what advice would you have for someone who is. in the process of self-publishing a book.

Joanna: There's so many different self-publishers out there. My suggestion would be just to research as much as you can online and talk to people. Do what I did join book clubs, book clubs, ladies book clubs, mystery book clubs, fiction book clubs, any kind of book clubs, and talk to people. I think that's the best way — having conversation. Network, network, network. And that's the best way to decide what you think would work for you.

Passionistas: Travel is such a big part of your book as well, so you know, I know you said you weren't traveling as much, but do you have a dream trip or a wine specific destination that you're dreaming about right now?

Joanna: I would love to go, well, two countries. Because I've been to so, so, so many places in Italy. And because I love everything French — food, wine, music, culture — I'd love to go to France. I'd love to go to Paris. I was in Paris for a day and a half and it was raining profusely. And I remember walking down the, say, getting soaked. So, so my dream trip would really. Be to go back to Paris and do a tour of Paris and Provence and in the area and so many places to go in Paris.

But another dream trip I have would be Spain. I'd love to, I'd love to go back. I’d love to go experience Spain. Spain was a trip that I was supposed to organize the same way that I did my Italy trip with my wine group. I brought my wine group. To the Italy tour that I did. And after I did that, I had much success with it.

I started promoting the Spain tour and I didn't get anybody. I didn't really have enough of an interest to go on the trip. So that kind of fizzled out, and that's something I always have in the back of my mind. You know, it was Madrid, it was Seville, it was just the, the, the churches and the culture and it's just Pamona, run with the bulls. There's just so many things. I wanted to go to so many places I wanted to see in Spain. So I would say France and Spain, and then of course, enjoy all the wines.

Passionistas: What about US wines? What do you like?

Joanna: Now, it's funny you should mention that because living in Long Island we have the North Fork. And the North Fork was phenomenonal — phenomenal for wines. I mean, the Cabernet Francs were fantastic on the North Fork. The Merlots were very good. The Malbecs were good. And I used to spend a lot of my weekends out on the North Fork, especially being in the city all week. It was so nice to just jump in the car with a friend and or whoever was in my world at that time and just spend a Saturday there.

And it was even nice to go off-season because it wasn't as crowded, but the wineries were all still open and a lot of them had live music. And even though it was cold, we would sit outside with the heat lamps and the music and the wine and the. Food and it was like a vacation for me. It really was. And I really, really enjoyed that.

So yeah, I talk about the international wines because that's what the book is all about, but there were many, many wines that I enjoyed when I was out on the North Fork.

Passionistas: There's a US version on the works. Huh?

Joanna: I don't know. Like I said, I feel like I have not done this book justice. Yeah. There is so much more than I need to do to promote this book that that's where my focus is going to be now, you know? Yeah.

Passionistas: So you're obviously a woman of incredible curiosity and numerous passions. How do you decide what path you're going to follow? How do you say, okay, I'm going to put the travel thing away for a little bit and do the wine or the art? Do you have a process or do you just follow your gut?

Joanna: Yeah. You know, I do. I listen to my body, I listen to my mind, I listen to my heart and, and, and I also listen to my business sense thinking what's the, what's the most Responsible thing that I could do. I mean, I'd love to go off to France and hang out with the artists and just paint and sip and do whatever I want to do.

But of course that's not feasible and not possible. So I have to also think of how am I going to make a living that's very, very important to me. and if I could make a living and do something that I enjoy, then you know, then that's nirvana.

Passionistas: So if you were going to go get a bottle of wine and have a glass tonight just to relax, what's your kind of go-to wine that you would recommend to people?

Joanna: My go-to wine that's probably easy to find and, and not from this country or that country, you could always get a nice Merlot. You could always get a nice Cabernet Sauvignon that's, you could always get a nice one from any vineyard. And usually even when you go to a restaurant and you're going to a nice restaurant, you can even get the house wine.

You know, sometimes even the house wine is good. it depends on what the house wine is. and it depends on what they have on their wine list. But you are always safe with the Cabernet Sauvignon. You're always safe with that or a good merlott. You know, you really, if, if you, if you've developed a taste for it and you developed a palette for it, you really can't go wrong with either one of those.

And then as far as whites, Chardonnay, Chardonnay, I always the oakier the better. But Chardonnay is always my go-to for whites.

Passionistas: So with all of these amazing experiences you've had, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Joanna: Be more ambitious be more ambitious. I think as I've gotten older, I've become more and more ambitious. I didn't start off 20 years old, ambitious. So if I was, if I was talking to my younger self at 20, I would've said be more ambitious. Go for this, go for that. Go back to school. Go do this. Go do that. Be more ambitious. You know, I think that's something that I just developed from being around so many ambitious people and so many so many people with strong work ethics and, and sophistication, levels of sophistication that that I was always intrigued by. So yeah. Yeah. And, and, and that's something that grew with me. You know, that wasn't something that That I, that I, I was ambitious, but not like I am now. You know, I had a work ethic, but not like I have now. So it it's just, that's, that's what I would say to my, my younger self.

Passionistas: Would you tell her to tap into her creativity more?

Joanna: Absolutely, especially since I went to FIT and I never took a drawing class or I never took a painting class. Absolutely. I would say to her, take as many creative classes as possible. Forget about marketing communications just learn as much as you can. I'm a self-taught artist, so yeah, and, and I just, I remember.

Learning different techniques from joining different abstract art groups on LinkedIn. And that's how I learned about different techniques and making my paintings look more 3d. because you know, when you're using, when you compare. Oil to acrylic oil. Painting inside can be very toxic. And I was always painting inside, so I needed to use acrylic but then I learned how to get that oil the look that you would have and the imaging that you would have with oil. I learned how to get that by using acrylic, and again, that was just research. You know, research and, and learning how to do things on my own. I really had, there was nobody in my family that, that was into the arts.

I mean, they would poo poo me on that one every time I was telling them I was painting. I would show them all my abstract paintings and they would just poo poo it they weren't into it. And I really didn't get any support. From, from them when it came to my paintings. So it's something that I knew that I was good at and I knew that I should continue, whether they support me or not.

And I knew that this was something that I was doing as a side hustle and I wasn't expecting a salary from it because I knew that I always had a job. And that was really important to me. But I, I wouldn't, I wouldn't let that get to me. I wouldn't let that stop me because I was still showcasing every weekend in Long Beach is during the season.

So I think it was from from May through Halloween, I was there every Saturday showcasing my paintings. I would even go in the rain and sit in the car and wait for the rain to stop and then go out and set up my table, my six-foot tables. So it didn't stop me it didn't stop me because I knew my paintings were good.

And even if I didn't sell anything, it didn't stop me because a lot of the times, It was for me it, it was great that I was able to market it and promote it, but I did it mostly for me. It was something that was a hobby that something that made me happy, you know? And if I could sell it, great.

And then all of a sudden it was just like I was painting one after the other. And the more I painted, the better I got at it.

Yeah. And even without the support of your family, you sound like the person who finds her people. Absolutely. I come from a very conservative family, so you know, they're not into art or wine or all of the traveling all over.

They're not into any of that stuff. So that's okay. I do what I need to do for me. So, and I, and I did it and I was happy. I did. I found my people.

Passionistas: What do you think is the biggest risk you ever took and how did it pay off?

Joanna: When I first started painting, I was a little shy about it. Like I was a little shy about sharing it with the world.

Was it any good? Would people like it? Definitely that I would say. Do I want to start posting it? Do I want to make an Instagram account? Am I good enough or do you think that people are not going to like it or they're it's, I'm going to get a ne negative reaction from it. but. The more I posted and, and the more I felt confident with my paintings, the less I cared.

You know, this is, this is something that I created. This is something that I'm proud of. This is a part of me, and I'm going to share it with the world. And if you don't like it, that's okay. It's not for everybody, but it's for me.

Passionistas: Do you have a mantra that you live by?

Joanna: Not one specific mantra. I mean, I've gone through so many different women empowering groups and events and I think it's mostly just the way you talk to yourself.

How do you talk to yourself, you know? Sometimes my mind is all over the place. And then I have to say to myself, you have to do what's good for you and you have to practice self-care, and you have to do what's going to make you happy. And that's what I try to do. And it's not for everybody.

And, and I'm sure there's a lot of haters out there that don't go along with, with what I'm doing or what I create. and that's fine. Like I said, it's It is not everybody's cup of tea, but it's my cup of tea and that's what's important. If I don't sell it, I have another job. I'm a teacher now, so that's how I make a living.

And it's okay with me because I know that I come home at night, I walk into my apartment, and I'm surrounded by all my paintings, and that's what makes me happy. You know, it's for, it's not for everybody else. It's for me. And if I could sell it, great, fantastic, fantastic. But if I can't, it's for me.

Passionistas: How did you define success when you were working in the marketing world, and how do you define it now?

Joanna: Well, I really, I went to school for marketing, but I worked in corporate retail. That was really my industry. I always worked in the executive offices or the buying offices, the VP offices of corporate retail companies, fortune 500 companies.

If I came home feeling like I did something productive with my day and with my time and maybe I learned something new or maybe I just did something and perfected it. To me, that's success. And if I had a bad day, they would always be another day. Because you're going right back to work next day. You know what I mean?

So even if you have a bad day, there's always another day that's going to come, that's going to be a better day. So I would really define success. On what I've accomplished and what I feel like I've accomplished by the end of the day, by the end of the week, by the end of the month that kind of thing.

Passionistas: What's your dream for women?

Joanna: Reproductive freedom. I mean, that's a whole, that's what's happening right now in the world where women are, are losing their identity and losing their rights and their reproductive freedom. I feel like we've gone back a hundred years. And it's just, it's just debilitating what's going on right now in the world. So that's my number one dream for women.

Passionistas: We couldn't agree more. One last question. If you could pick one female pop culture icon or woman in history and walk in her shoes for one day, who would you choose and why?

Joanna: So I would have to say only because she's so bizarre and outrageous and fun, Lady Gaga. She is just unbelievable with the costumes and, and, and the music.

And then she started singing with Tony Bennett and her duets that she does. She is just, she blows me away, lady Gaga. She really does, and I love her. I absolutely love her. I'm not going to pick a political figure. I'm just going to go with my, go with my first thought and my gut. And I would say Lady Gaga rocks.

Passionistas: Yeah. That's a great one. That's a great one. Well, we can't thank you enough for joining us today. It was such a pleasure to talk to you and all of the amazing passions that you followed. It's so inspiring.

Joanna: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me on. I had such a good time.

Passionistas: Thanks for listening to The Passionistas Project and our interview with Joanna Barola. Get a copy of her book DIVULGE D'VINO at

And be sure to visit to sign up for our mailing list, find all the ways you can follow us on social media and join our sisterhood of women coming together to explore their Passionistas and find their purpose.

We'll be back next week with another Passionista who's defining success on her own terms and breaking down the barriers for herself and women everywhere.

Until then, stay well and stay passionate.

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