Find out more about Dr. LaToya Thompson, the Metro Detroit physical therapist who launched, Opulence Wine.
Tell us a little about yourself and your career:
I am the proud, devoted wife to Anthony Thompson II and mother to 3 beautiful children: Anthony III, Aiden, and Ava. I’m also a foodie at heart and my love affair with wine was a natural match made in heaven. My love for sports medicine began as an athlete in high school when I needed physical therapy myself.
I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Michigan State University (GO GREEN!) with a BS in Kinesiology and Physical Therapy concentration. I went on to obtain my Doctoral degree in Physical Therapy from Oakland University. I became passionate about wine during my last clinical rotation landed me in Florida.
Can you share some of your career highlights or moments you are most proud of thus far?
My fondest and proudest moments in my career actually occurs almost daily. When my patients credit me for assisting them to achieve their goals, I feel that I have done what God has placed me on the earth for – to help others and to make sure they know that can do anything with the right mindset and resources.
Next in line would be treating and training some the world’s greatest athletes – Olympians. I am grateful for the opportunity to assist these stellar athletes in returning safely to their respective sports.
How did you, a person in the medical industry, end up deciding to launch a wine brand?
I credit the push from my husband. As an entrepreneur, he has always encouraged me to look beyond my passion and turn them into additional income opportunities. And my background in science is really what sparked my curiosity about the journey of grape to glass and in that process, Opulence Wines was born.
Bringing a business to life is hard regardless of the industry. What were some of the biggest challenges you overcame in launching Opulence Wine?
My biggest personal challenge has always been getting out of my own way. I’m a thinker which leads me to a lot of overthinking that stalled my initial progression.
From a business prospective, my biggest challenge was securing my liquor license and distribution. There are so many legalities involved that can be really scary! But I researched, asked a lot of questions, and forged my way through until I was approved for my license. Once I obtained my license I needed a distributor to sell my wine and that led to many unanswered phone calls and emails. Those closed doors can definitely hurt your confidence but I was determined.
I do believe being a black female with a new brand played a role in the initial difficulty with completing this task. I began to notice a trend that the same companies I reached out with no response, got back to my husband when he began contacting them on my behalf. It’s unfortunate but it’s a reality we face in today’s world. I finally secured distribution through Great Lakes Wines & Spirits, one of the largest distributors in Michigan.
What was your biggest mistake or failure and what did you learn from it?
Budgeting! While I had a thorough budget starting out, there were unexpected costs due to COVID plus inflation that really changed things. I have since learned to continue to dream big but to adjust my margins for those unforeseen costs!
Tell us a little bit about the wine itself:
I currently have a 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. On the nose it has a hint of herb. Opulence Cabernet exhibits persistent flavors of plum, cassis, and finishes with a firm tannin.
We also produced a 2019 Lodi Pinot Grigio. Opulence Pinot Grigio presents floral aromas of honeysuckle and fruit flavors of pear, green apple, white nectarine.
You just recently had a very successful launch event at House of Pure Vin – what’s next for you and your brand?
Moving forward, I am extremely passionate on making sure I am involved in continuing the progression of inclusivity in the wine industry, especially Michigan Wine. I am a member of the Michigan Wine Collaborative and I am excited to assist these awesome members with supporting Michigan wine.
Additionally we are making more wine, of course! New varietals will be available next year and we are excited for new joint ventures. The wine experience has always been my focus and passion so you will be able to experience Opulence with paired events in the arts coming soon.
How to you find balance or manage a career, running a new business and your personal life?
Balance requires the realization that I can’t do everything, nor be everything for everyone. I am conquering the essence of “no”, lol! Making sure I am whole spiritually, physically, and emotionally makes me a better wife, mother, and colleague, so I take care of me first and then everything else follows. I am also old school and I write everything down and have several planners to keep me on track. There is nothing like physically crossing something off my to do list!
Now onto some fun…
What was your first job growing up?
Cashier at AJ Wright…I’m telling my age a bit with this one;)
What’s currently on your playlist?
Opulence Wines Vino and Vibes playlist is available on Apple music! I am a lover of all genres but I love old school R&B.
What TV shows are you currently binging?
I wish I could binge, but my guilty pleasure is any of the Real Housewives enterprise…Potomac is definitely my favorite right now!
Three things you can’t live without?
My family, sweets, and WINE!
What is your hidden talent?
My shower vocals are actually pretty good…according to my husband, but I think so too. I only sing for him and the kids though.
Dream vacation destination?
A wine/fashion tour through Italy. It was scheduled in 2020 but unfortunately cancelled due to COVID. We’ll still make it happen one day!
If you could have a meal with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would love to have a meal with my grandfather who passed away when I was 10. There are so many things I would love to talk to him about regarding our family history. He made it a priority to expose my sister and I to the arts and was our biggest supporter of us achieving academic excellence and experiencing the finer things in life.
Local Love Questions…
Your current favorite local spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Your favorite place(s) to shop locally in Metro Detroit?
Your go-to for a good cup of coffee or tea?
Starbucks is always readily available but I love Atomic Coffee in Royal Oak if I am in the area.
Favorite thing to do on a weekend in Metro Detroit?
Favorite quote, mantra or words to live by?
Desire fuels strategy. If my passion does not match my work then there is a problem. My planning always reverts back to my desires. Everything flows when my heart is in it!
*If you purchase wine directly from the website, it will take approximately 1 week to be shipped to you.
You can purchase Opulence Wine at the following Metro Detroit retail locations: