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Shattering the Glass Ceiling

Shattering the Glass Ceiling

By Karen Knight

QVC hosts Mally Roncal and Sandra Bennett talk with Barbara Wilde, right, owner of Willow Creek Winery in West Cape May, for the QVC show “Over 50 and Fabulous.”
QVC
QVC hosts Mally Roncal and Sandra Bennett talk with Barbara Wilde, right, owner of Willow Creek Winery in West Cape May, for the QVC show “Over 50 and Fabulous.”

West Cape May businesswoman featured on QVC’s ‘Over 50 and Fabulous’

WEST CAPE MAY – Describing herself as “a grown-up Alice in Wonderland,” West Cape May business owner Barbara Wilde recently looked over her 50-plus-acre winery and said, “This is my Wonderland.”

With the same curiosity and yearning for something new that the storybook character Alice exhibited, Wilde finds herself inspired by others, whom she likes to sit and talk with so she can learn from their experiences.

She’s not afraid to work hard, creating “dream” places like her vineyard and Willow Creek Winery and restored bed-and-breakfast, places that help the county’s tourism industry.

So it’s no surprise she would be a perfect subject for “Over 50 and Fabulous,” QVC’s “next chapter which will embolden women over the age of 50 to seize what’s next from a life stage that is too often ignored and undersupported by mainstream brands.”

QVC’s first stop on its Age of Possibility Tour was the Willow Creek Winery, on May 23. Photo Credit: QVC

The “Over 50 & Fabulous” broadcast from the winery May 23 can be viewed at QVC.com, QVC’s Facebook & YouTube platforms and on the QVC+ streaming app.

Cape May was the first stop on QVC’s Age of Possibility Tour, which kicked off in April with celebrities including Christina Applegate, Patti LaBelle, Rita Wilson and Martha Stewart.

Age of Possibility is a “marketing platform that celebrates women over 50 and their lives after 50 as a vibrant time full of new opportunities, changes, questions and hopes. The initiative aims to dispel outdated stereotypes and encourage women to live authentically and unapologetically,” said Annette Dunleavy, vice president for brand marketing for QVC.

“During the on-air show, customers are able to engage, sharing comments and questions, which are then discussed and answered during the aftershow. It’s an opportunity for the customer to be a part of the conversation, to engage with some of their favorite QVC personalities and special guests, and make them feel connected and part of the QVC community.

“Willow Creek Winery is not only a picturesque location for our first Age of Possibility Tour stop, it has a great story and an inspiring founder who is living her own Age of Possibility.

“Barbara has great stories to share, and we are excited for our customers to learn more about her and give them an inside look at the beautiful Willow Creek Winery.”

Wilde comes across as strong and fierce when she talks about what drives her to take on new ideas and see if they will work in her business ventures. As owner of the Southern Mansion bed-and-breakfast and of the Willow Creek Winery, she strives to “stay positive” and “keep smiling,” despite facing multiple challenges over 30 years in the local business arena.

She credits her parents, who were “workers,” for her drive to continue to be inspired and to seek knowledge. “I’m still impressed by my mother,” she said, “to try and do it better. It’s like it’s never good enough, so I try to surround myself with positive energy and seek knowledge.”

Wilde thinks women today “take care of themselves, and they look fabulous. They eat healthier, they are empowered, they look dynamite. It’s an exciting time to be a woman today. In the 1900s, women who were 30 or 40 years old looked a lot older. Now you see women in their 70s and 80s who are taking such great care of themselves. You are not defined by your age anymore.”

Wilde, who said she is in her 50s and that “it’s nobody’s business” how old she is specifically, likes to surround herself with “great people and beauty” and believes “you can’t have fear” because there is always a way to overcome obstacles and challenges.

Living in the area for some 30 years, she said it hasn’t always been easy doing business in the community. “Just read any of the articles published, I’ve not been given an easy time,” she said. “But I keep forging forward.

“I’ve been harassed and sued by the local officials, to the point that the stress was so bad I couldn’t walk and didn’t want to come out of my house. However, with the support of my friends, I crawled out and came back. I was beaten down, but I got back up and, with hard work, tried to keep positive and smiling and move forward.”

Today, Wilde continues to move forward, whether it’s with the walker she uses to assist with the multiple sclerosis that visibly affects her walking, or with the help of her staff, who help run her businesses. She’s up daily at 5 a.m. so she can exercise and makes sure to eat properly to potentially slow down the effects of the disease on her immune system.

“There are some days I feel great, and get out of bed easily, and there are other days when I take it slow,” she said.

“You should accept help when people offer to help, and you should offer to help others, because together you can do anything you want. You can’t be afraid. If you tell me no, I will figure out a way to make it work.”

She remembers buying the lima bean farm that became Willow Creek Winery, and how she worked to improve the soil conditions “because there weren’t even any worms in it.” Over the years, her attempts to expand the business were met with obstacles, which she eventually overcame.

“I wanted to create a destination for everyone, for the tourism that is so much part of our area and state,” she said. “Everyone is not going to eat all their meals here at the winery, but it offers them something unique and the setting is gorgeous.

“I want to create a dream like no other place where people can experience wine, food, music and events. I want people to ask, ‘Are we in southern France?’ when they come here.”

Wilde grew up in Paoli, Pennsylvania, and went to college in California to study biochemistry. She loves surrounding herself with beautiful plants and flowers, and knows the flora by their Latin names. While vacationing in Cape May in early 1994, her family found an abandoned beautiful home with enormous grounds. By the summer, they had purchased the house and began wading through 130 years of history.

Having sorted all the important furnishings, artwork, family mementos and heirlooms into four tractor-trailers, they removed 25 dumpster loads of garbage. Over the next 18 months, the mansion and grounds were restored. The house, now called the Southern Mansion, opened in 1996, when its second renovation phase began.

“I love to empower women, and if I had the choice of hiring a mom, I would do so in a heartbeat because they are used to multitasking and figuring out how to get things done,” Wilde said. “Small businesses are the ones creating jobs for people, but it’s the bureaucracy that gets in the way. Creating is pure ecstasy for me, and I try to stay positive and keep smiling.

“I think now is the Age of Women, with more women in businesses and every aspect along the way. Let’s enjoy it together and bring the world to a better place.”

Contact the reporter, Karen Knight, at kknight@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Karen Knight is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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