Spotlight: Paperman Wine

Paperman Wine focuses on bringing you exclusive wine while facilitating connections with their local partners. We talk with Joel Bombenon in this Pride In Business Community Spotlight, in partnership with TD.


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Q: Tell me about yourself?

I grew up in Calgary. More-or-less, I have lived here my whole life. After I graduated high school I moved to Cologne, Germany, to attend the International School of Design where I took a degree in Industrial Design. I finished my education with a Masters in Architecture before moving back to Calgary. It was an inspiring place to be because of the eclectic architecture. It was also an inspiring place to immerse myself in all the great European wines. This is where I started building my interest in wine. I moved back thinking that I wanted to work in Architecture but then this ‘hobby’ of wine became a career instead. It was a lot of schooling for the total opposite of what I ended up doing. It was still a great path, though, because it was experience building. I never would have discovered my love for wine if I never went to Europe and got to experience what it had to offer.

Q: What are your hobbies and how do you spend your time?

Mainly wine… Haha… definitively. These days my time is spent getting to know and understand the wine business. I do a lot of traveling to vineyards around the world researching products to import for Paperman Wines. I research spirits, beers, and ciders too. That’s how I spend the bulk of my time. Right now, I am completely devoted to the business. That and pretending I go to the gym enough to justify drinking all this wine haha.

When setting up a trip for work, I base it on recommendations from friends. I rely on my friends to give me a heads up on something special that I should go and check out. We are in the business of importing boutique wines after all. Once I’ve accumulated enough ideas, I’ll set up a trip that hits up all the vineyards along the way. My next two trips are to Italy and Argentina. I am especially excited for the Argentina vineyards because one of them is opening a special wine to the market that hasn’t been available for 15 years!

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Q: Tell me about your business?

It’s a wine subscription company that specializes in incorporating items from local brands around each city we work in and distributing it out to our list of subscribers. The wine and complimented goods go right to your door every month.

There are personal and corporate subscriptions. For the personal subscription, you get the wine of the month shipped to your door. You can pick how many bottles you can get in each box. There are also items in the box which compliment a nice night at home and items which compliment enjoying the wine and having a night on the town. Examples are local brewery tours, events, and discounts to shows. We are trying to branch out more to bring more variety to our boxes. We are partnering with fitness studios and coffee roasters (to help you energize after enjoying our wines haha).

The corporate subscription is very similar. We work with hotels which buy designed boxes. We will tailor the box for their guests. If it’s a smaller hotel maybe there will be a bottle complimented with something edible that is gluten free, dairy free, etc. We have a couple brands that we work with which make amazing chocolates we include. Ultimately, it’s a gift that says welcome to your hotel room and enjoy your stay with us. We have seen a lot of growth on this side of the business.

We try to partner up with lots of different brands from the city in which we are working in. We showcase discounts, gift cards, and stuff to get people engaged with a local brand. Our wine box reaches a very large span within the city, therefore inter-city people are exposed to great stuff that you can find in the outer parts of the city, and vice versa. It’s a great platform to cross promote and bring awareness to local brands.

Additionally, we bring in extra boxes of wine over and above our subscription amount when we make an order. We do this in case one of our subscribers takes an interest in a bottle and wants to buy some extra. We can sell whatever doesn’t get purchased to liquor stores, restaurants, etc.

We also give back with a portion of the revenue from each box to The Hero Girls Foundation which is apart of Her International. The foundation is all about woman empowerment. For example, they have a presence in Nepal and work to help Nepalese women get educated. My family is also very pro-woman. We work with the foundation closely. It’s been a great way to start making some change.

Q: What made you choose your career?

I was a university student that went drinking 24/7? Haha. It is a tale made in heaven. I was really enjoying the wines in Europe and was thinking how can I do this back in Canada? So, I found a way to do it.

Q: How do you feel your business contributes to the LGBTQ+ community in Calgary?

We are so inclusive locally, we really blur that line between from the LGBTQ+ community with every other community. We are saying everybody is welcome. If you are good at what you do, then we want to support you. A lot of our existing partnerships are owned by LGBTQ+ community members. I think it’s very inclusive.

However, we are still fresh. We started our first launch in January. It’s great to have been introduced to Pride in Business right away because we got to see what stretch and impact one can have. We are looking for ways to contribute. We are going to see how others are doing it, follow their lead, and maybe take it to the next level. I guess the answer is it’s more of a “going to be contributing”.

Q: How can you and your business serve as a connector or a hub for connector in our community?

We are so inclusive that there isn’t really a “no” for us. Our marketing is very ‘tong-and-cheek’ so if people are scared that it’s too conservative of a company for their brand or there is something more “adult” about their brand, we want to see it. We are probably going to say “please throw it in”. Go for it, we are very open to whatever goes in our boxes. We can squeak it accordingly for corporate clients, but otherwise everybody is welcome. Have some fun and see what it’s all about.

Q: Do you have any advice for LGBTQ+ members who want to go into business for themselves like yourself?

Do what you’re good at. If you’re going into it, then jump head first. Be very headstrong. Be confident that you believe in your product and your brand. It’s kind of like your own little coming out story. You must be 100% ready for it, then when you do it, do it with conviction.

Q: Are you open to being approached from members of our community would who like to connect on topics we discussed in this article?

Absolutely, I’d love to! Connect with me on facebook messenger or hello@papermanwines.com.
Website: papermanwine.com

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