Welcome to The Work Day, a series that charts a single day in various women’s working lives — from gallery owners to stay-at-home parents to chief executives. In this installment, we hear from sommelier and PR manager Lydia Richards about a workday in December.
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Name: Lydia Richards
Location: New York City
Previous jobs: I started my career in fashion and beauty public relations, working with brands and magazines. My first job in wine as I was transitioning industries was as a marketing manager for a luxury wine retailer and storage facility, which was an incredible learning experience in fine wine. After that, I worked for a wine and spirits-focused PR agency, and in 2017, I founded my bilingual wine education, tastings and events company, Vino Concierge. Currently, I work during the day in PR for a major U.S. wine importer.
What led me to my current role: I have been working in the wine industry for five years and have lived in New York for almost 11 (officially a true New Yorker now!). I am originally from Panama, and since I was young, I’ve had an appreciation for wine thanks to my mom and my aunts, and how it brought them together around the table. The real OG wine lovers in my book, they would chat for hours on end, their interactions always revolving around a bottle of wine.
My own passion for wine began after graduating from university in London and living in Paris for a few months to learn the language. Living with one of my closest friends, who was French and a real wine connoisseur, really opened my eyes to the different French wine regions, styles and the culture behind it. From then on, I was hooked. After moving to New York, I worked in marketing and PR in the fashion industry, but always kept coming back to wine. I took wine and food pairing classes after work, and slowly but surely, it started taking over my life. In 2015, I decided to fully commit, take sommelier and WSET lessons and make the official career change. I created my private wine education and events company, Vino Concierge, in 2017.
I love teaching consumers, especially those who are Black and Latinx, about wine — making it fun, approachable and open. My cultural duality as both Black and Latina allows me to connect and engage with these types of consumers, who are often neglected in marketing and educational efforts, on a much deeper level.
How I spend the majority of my workday: For the most part, answering emails, managing various projects and virtual/in-person meetings — which depend on if I’m in the office or working from home, as we are in a hybrid working model.
No day is ever really the same, as I juggle multiple tasks between my day job and my own company. Working in public relations means that I have to know everything going on in the industry, from developing strategic PR campaigns and event planning for the large number of clients we represent to constantly staying up to date on breaking industry news. Never a dull moment and lots of long nights!
I also co-manage Hispanics in Wine — a centralized digital space focused on amplifying and supporting the Hispanic and Latinx communities in the wine and hospitality industries. From scholarships and job postings to events and developing English and Spanish resources, we created this organization to empower Latinx professionals, both current and future, and help navigate their educational and career opportunities. It has been incredibly fulfilling, and we are just getting started.
My days can be long and stressful, so I try to carve space during the day for my own personal mental health and overall wellness — even if it’s only 15 to 30 minutes of yoga, cardio or meditation and putting down my laptop or phone for a moment. It has truly done wonders to my productivity and energy levels. I have also adopted a more balanced and healthy diet, as working in this industry means that my alcohol intake can be a bit high at times. It is a constant work in progress, and while I do not limit myself extensively, I’ve realized it’s all about balance!
7:45 a.m.: Wake up, hit snooze a few more times than I care to admit, and first thing’s first: coffee.
8:30 a.m.: I have a bit more time this morning, so I make myself a green smoothie and do a quick workout — victory!
10 a.m.: Drive to Port Washington in Long Island to the Palm Bay International offices.
11:30 a.m.: I spend the next several hours managing ad-hoc projects and deadlines. I also hop on several video calls and meetings with my incredible internal PR team, led by two fabulous powerhouse women, Bethany Burke and Susan-Anne Cosgrove.
4:30 p.m.: Quick check-in call with Maria Calvert, my partner and co-founder of Hispanics in Wine, making sure we are all up to date on any pending projects and tasks. Working with her is inspiring all throughout and keeps me honest — totally understand the meaning of “it takes a tribe” to get anything done.
6:30 p.m.: Drive back to New York City. If you have driven on the Long Island Expressway, you know there’s always something going on, but I do enjoy this moment to myself, with lots of singing and dancing in the car (safely!).
7:30 p.m.: I am now home, so I have a glass of wine while I handle some last-minute emails and projects for my business. Yes, I do have A LOT of wine at home to choose from (definitely one of the perks of the job). Today I chose a beautiful Italian wine, a bottle of Secco-Bertani Original Vintage Edition 2015.
8:30 p.m.: Dinner! During the day for lunch, I tend to just have a quick bite and eat in front of my desk, so dinnertime is very important to me. I love cooking; I find it relaxing and therapeutic. However, because my schedule can involve less time to myself with lots of late nights, whenever I have time, I usually meal-prep in advance. That way I can keep dishes in the freezer and just pop them in the oven when I’m home. Today, I have an amazing lasagna, which I accompany with a quickly made salad.
11 p.m.: I start winding down and get ready for bed. As the years go by, I’ve adopted an extensive skin-care routine — which I love! It not only keeps my skin glowing, but also allows me to have another meditative, self-care moment that helps me to relax before going to sleep.
12 a.m.: Not yet asleep, but I’m in bed (an internal moment to yell at myself to put down the phone). Now, cheers and good night!