Meet Kayla (Our First Major Taylor Fellow)!

Meet Kayla (Our First Major Taylor Fellow)!

We're incredibly excited to announce Kayla Mensah as the inaugural Major Taylor fellow at Domestique. She's an enthusiast of the high-low pairing and loves all things involving Italian wine and Caribbean food (especially when combined). Before coming to wine, Kayla studied and worked in mechanical engineering. Her end goal is to increase inclusivity in wine by cultivating a space that focuses on wine and food from underrepresented regions. Think: juicy pet nats with Jamaican patties.

We asked Kayla a couple questions to help everyone get to know more about her before the fellowship. Follow along @winegriot.

What are you drinking these days and why?
It currently feels like I'm swimming in the Devil's swamp, so I've been almost exclusively drinking bubbly and lighter reds. The "Monkey Jacket" red blend from Cruse Wine Co. and the "Le Temps d'Aimer" VDF Rouge 2018 from Le Briseau were fast favorites.
Why did you apply for the fellowship? For a long time, the wine industry has been all but inaccessible to people who look like me. As a consumer, I was stereotyped, and as a professional, I have been ignored and underestimated. This program creates a safe, affirming place for those of us who have been overlooked while disrupting the status quo. Being able to learn invaluable skills in an environment that is rooted in inclusivity and activism (plus really good natural wine) is a dream come true, and I’m very excited to have this opportunity.

Beyond wine, what makes you giddy with joy? The ocean (or any swimmable body of water) and good food. A combination of the two, if I'm especially lucky.

Identity is layered and complex, for everyone. Tell us a little about your background and what makes you you. I'm a New Yorker at heart. A mash up of all the cultures that raised me in a 90s version of the Bronx. As a child of Jamaican and Ghanaian immigrants, my happy places usually involved a lot of food, drinks, and impossibly loud music. I'm also queer, which doesn't necessarily always play with the aforementioned cultures nicely but leads to some interesting (if not exhausting) debates. All of these parts of me inform how I move through the world, including the wine world.

Fuck, Marry, Kill for mezcal, Savagnin, and zero sulfur wine: Marry Savagnin, fuck mezcal, and kill zero sulfur wine (I know, I'm sorry) .

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The Major Taylor Fellowship

The Major Taylor Fellowship

Our goal is to give somebody amazing a starting point in wine. They'll work 30 hours per week at Domestique, learning all the ins-and-outs of running a wine retail operation. We've also facilitated stages at three award-winning restaurants: Komi, Bad Saint, and 2AMYS. And our partner, Streetsense, will organize three days of programming centered around finding a restaurant space, design and buildout, and branding strategy.

We are looking to address, challenge, and disrupt the clear lack of diversity in wine and strongly encourage people of color and from disenfranchised communities to apply. The fellowship will last three weeks and will include a $3,000 stipend, plus we'll pay for your housing costs. We're planning to announce the recipient a month from now, with the fellowship beginning in August or September. Come join our team. We're fun and the wine is pretty good.

Eligibility and fit with the fellowship:
Must have authorization to work in the United States and must be over the age of 21
Must have fewer than five years of related experience in the food or beverage industries

Application timeline:
June 23rd - July 10th: Application live
July 12th: Semi-finalists selected and all applicants notified
July 14th - 16th: Phone calls with semi-finalists
Week of July 20th: Fellowship recipient announced
3-week fellowship scheduled between weeks of August 3rd - September 28th




Streetsense is an experience-focused strategy and design collective that creates brands people love and places people love to be. We are unified by an approach that is people-centered and design-led and are powered by an uncommon team ranging in expertise from interiors to branding, real estate to hospitality. Learn more at streetsense.com or follow us @realstreetsense

Domestique is a natural wine store based in Washington, DC. We (only) work with producers who use organic and biodynamic agriculture and minimal intervention in the cellar to make real wine. We're here in service of these producers. Learn more at domestiquewine.com or follow us @domestiquewine

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