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Happy Cork – It’s all about diversity

Happy Cork, founded in 2019 in New York by Sunshine Foss, is a wine and spirits travel shop with an emphasis on community. Since opening its doors, Happy Cork has become a destination for people to experience the largest selection of black and minority-owned wine and spirits in Brooklyn, New York. Get to know Sunshine’s story and her golden tips for a successful business.

Happy Cork wine

“When I first ventured into the world of wine and spirits I knew I needed to give a platform to these underserved, amazing brands that were often overlooked. It’s now become my passion to highlight and show these wonderful brands while catering to the community surrounding us,” Sunshine explains.

Sunshine Foss is a woman of many talents. Born in Brooklyn, New York to St. Lucian parents, Sunshine had the best of both worlds–Brooklyn roots with an upbringing on the beautiful island of St. Lucia–affording her the opportunity to flourish and cultivate the woman she is today. Upon returning to the concrete jungle of New York, Sunshine once again moved, this time to Miami where she pursued her first passion, design. While living in the Sunshine State, Sunshine became known in the Miami community as the best-kept secret for everything vintage.

Sunshine Foss - Happy Cork Wine and Spirits owner


A new shift in her career followed her return to New York and marriage to Remo Foss; the two pursued careers in real estate – complimenting each other’s talents of sharp business acumen and a keen eye for design. Two kids, available space, and a dream later: Happy Cork Wine and Spirits was born.

“The mompreneur is constantly thinking of new ways to ensure that the community Happy Cork serves is kept at the center.”

Sunshine’s love for design greatly influenced the feel and product selection while developing the Brooklyn-based store. From the wood pallet cash wrap to the tree stump hanging display, the store features up-cycled/recycled merchandise along with an amazing assortment of wine & liquor. Sunshine spared no detail in ensuring Happy Cork is a joyful place for the community.

Happy Cork Wine and Spirits in Brooklyn, New York


Unlike other wine and spirits shops in the community, customers are treated like guests, invited in to ask questions, touch the bottles, and indulge in all the store’s offerings.

The mompreneur is constantly thinking of new ways to ensure that the community Happy Cork serves is kept at the center This commitment to the community includes featuring local artists, working with other small businesses to keep the block clean, and hosting events – all as a means to continue cultivating beautiful connections amongst the people Happy Cork serves.

How did you start your business?

Like many small business owners, I did not have a business school education or other training when I started Happy Cork in 2019. Before creating my business, I studied fashion design and then went into real estate with my husband.

But when we could not find a new tenant for one of our buildings in Bedford-Stuyvesant, we saw it as a perfect opportunity to create a much-needed space to celebrate Black-owned, minority-owned, and female-owned brands of wine and spirits.

As I started my business, I soon realized just how many challenges millions of small business owners across the country face on a daily basis – and managing a business’s finances is just the tip of the iceberg. With a patchwork of courses offered across the nation’s school systems, few business owners are fortunate enough to have learned personal finance skills in the classroom, let alone tips for managing their businesses.


Sunshine Foss - Happy Cork Wine and Spirits owner, standing in the store

What is your biggest challenge as a small business owner?

I know all too well that there is no playbook for how to run a business. That is why almost less than half of all small businesses succeed within the first five years. However, efforts to better educate small business owners and entrepreneurs on how to manage their business’s finances could help lower that statistic.

While we had a strong vision for our business, there were many unexpected financial hurdles along the way. As a business that sells unique, minority-owned brands, we cannot purchase wines from the same distributors as other Brooklyn liquor stores. Rather, we have to rely on approximately 30 different distributors to stock our store with the largest collection of Black and minority-owned wines and spirits.

In the beginning, managing payments and invoices from 30 different distributors was immensely challenging. If we were just one day late on payments, a distributor could refuse to sell us the wines our customers expect and demand.

Luckily, there are solutions that give confidence that all payments to distributors will be made on time and allow us to focus more of our energy on growing the business.

Do you have any recommendations for owners to run their businesses?

Amidst inflation and supply chain bottlenecks, and with approximately 44% of U.S. small businesses operating on less than three months of cash reserves, I strongly urge small business owners to look into the available online tools and embrace the digitization of payments. Running a business has a tremendously steep learning curve, but there are free resources available to keep small businesses’ finances on the right track.

“I encourage small business owners to take advantage of the resources available, such as online courses and free financial technology services, and most importantly, not be afraid to ask for help.”

Financial literacy and financial technology literacy can play a critical role in leveling the playing field for small businesses and helping them compete in the global marketplace. I encourage small business owners to take advantage of the resources available, such as online courses and free financial technology services, and most importantly, not be afraid to ask for help. With a company’s finances under control, business owners can focus on what really matters: growing their business.


Sunshine Foss is the founder of Happy Cork, a wine and spirits travel shop, located in New York.

*The purpose of this page is solely to provide information and should not be considered as financial advice
**Melio does not provide legal, tax or accounting advice; you should consult a professional advisor before making any financial decisions.