Television journalist Lesley Stahl’s late father, Louis Stahl, owned a leather-finishing company called Stahl Finish in Lynn, Mass., where the CBS correspondent spent her childhood. And while Ms. Stahl can now brag about a notable reporting career, she often wonders what it might have been like if she had inherited the business, which her father later sold to Beatrice Foods.
“I’ve often thought, what if he had come to me and said, ‘Would you like to be in this business with me?’” Ms. Stahl confessed Friday evening at the launch party for her 31-year-old daughter Taylor Latham’s new business, Our Little Barrel, which she hosted with her husband, journalist Aaron Latham. “I might have loved it. I wouldn’t have become a journalist, but I think I might have had a pretty good life.”
Ms. Latham’s new company is a luxury line of wine-themed clothing that she formed with her husband, 30-year-old Andrew Major. "[My grandfather] did leather, we sort of do silk, but I think we’re carrying on the textile theme,” said Ms. Latham, who is a vice president at Double Feature Films. “My grandfather owned his business at a time when you did not hand your business over to your daughter. So he sold it, but I think there was a part of my mother that always wanted her father to pass it on to her. When we called and said we’re going to do this, she was so excited.” (Ms. Stahl pointed out that she too has recently become a businesswoman as the co-founder of the website WowoWow.com, which she joined becuase she wanted to explore her entrepreneurial side.)
When the couple, who now reside in Los Angeles, got married at a vineyard in Santa Barbara last year, they wanted to find unique wedding favors befitting the vineyard theme for their friends and family. But nothing was quite right.
“All we could find was stuff that looked like an Italian menu, so we came up with Little Barrel designs and gave them to our guests as gifts,” recalled Ms. Latham. “Then at the party, everyone kept asking about the designs and saying how great they were. And that’s when we realized that no one is really doing this. No one is making fun, stylish apparel for people who are into wine and into the wine country lifestyle.”
And so Ms. Latham and Mr. Major decided to fill what they saw as a void in the market and created a line of silk ties, sashes, headbands, and silk trimmed totes with colorful patterns of wine bottles, wine glasses, and grapevines. The accessories will be sold at vineyards, specialty boutiques, and on their website, www.littlebarrel.com.
When guests arrived and saw the display tables stacked with wine bottles, they seemed a bit confused that it was not a line of wine that they were there to celebrate, but rather the wine-inspired accessories scattered throughout the room. “It’s just a theme!” Ms. Latham clarified for what seemed like the tenth time that evening. “We wish we were winemakers. Maybe that will be our next life.”
Ms. Stahl said that her daughter and son-in-law are more into wine than she and her husband.
"I know there are foodies, but are there winies?" Ms. Stahl wondered. (Well, there are certainly winos! Not that we’re putting Ms. Stahl’s daughter in that category.) "Whatever they are called, they are definitely it. Personally, I like Pinots. I like Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir. They are both light and watery and then I put ice in it to make it even more watery."
Ms. Stahl was giddily greeting friends and family and showing off the red tie around her neck, which she had paired with a typical Stahl uniform of simple black turtle-necked dress and fitted tan blazer.
"When they first told me about it and then I saw the designs, I knew it was a good idea," said Ms. Stahl. "The original concept was to sell these things to people who got married at vineyards, which is kind of brilliant because no one had thought of that before."
While Ms. Latham is hanging on to her job at Double Feature for now, Mr. Major is working on their new business full-time.
"Sure, we’re nervous," said Mr. Major, when asked about launching such a curious business in a shaky economy. "But we started Little Barrel a year ago when the economy was much stronger and we believe in the potential of our small business over the long term."
Hopefully, some skills that his wife inherited from her mother will come in handy.
"I think she’s a very hard worker and she’s very organized, which I think she got from me," declared Ms. Stahl.
"My dad is the quietest person on the planet. He doesn’t talk. Luckily, I’ve inherited the opposite from my mom," said Ms. Latham. "My mother doesn’t let anyone push her around and I think I get that from her."
"I wouldn’t know anything about that," chimed in Mr. Major.