A lot of Sarah Newcomb’s outlook on life, and the success she’s achieved, can be summed up on a message at the top of her LinkedIn profile. It’s an Albert Einstein quote: “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
Newcomb embodies that. She grew up in a small town in Maryland, and had a topsy-turvy childhood. “I had a very rough upbringing and I don’t want to fall back into that life,” she says. “That drives me.”
Not yet 33, that drive has led Newcomb to a lifetime of interesting entrepreneurial experiences. In the last four years alone the list includes a six-month stint as an area manager for Amazon, where she temporarily moved to Connecticut, opened a facility and managed 119 employees; overseeing college and career initiatives for the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools; serving as the inaugural president and CEO of the Estero Chamber of Commerce for nearly two years; running a travel and portrait photography business; and, most recently, in 2019, opening The Wine Room in downtown Fort Myers. She also holds down a day job, working as an administrative specialist for Lee County, in the transportation department — her second stint with the county.
The Wine Room is currently her biggest entrepreneurial focus. One of several hotspots in the ongoing downtown Fort Myers revival, Newcomb says she started it with a lounge in mind, but it has since morphed into more of an event venue. One of the keys to The Wine Room, says Newcomb, is to make it approachable and casual. The menu ranges from a Frey Organic red at $36 a bottle to an Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon that goes for $80 a bottle. Another important element of The Wine Room is its give-back mission: each year Newcomb selects three local nonprofits to support by designating 3% of all bottle sales to those organizations.
Newcomb credits her uncle, Ricky Walls, with being an inspiration and mentor. He was a big influence, she says, on her leaving the small town she grew up in to see other parts of the country and world. Living in Washington state, he also influenced her passion for wine, and helped her through some of the financial side of starting a business.
But most importantly her uncle has taught Newcomb a life lesson, in not working so hard you miss out on life. “It's so easy to get wrapped up in work, and forget that tomorrow isn't promised,” Newcomb wrote in her 40 under 40 survey. “That we have to embrace each day. He does just that. His job will always receive consistent effort, but he will also never miss that annual golf trip with his friends. He works hard to be able to enjoy life to the fullest. That's inspiring.”
Name: Sarah Newcomb
City of Residence: Cape Coral
Employer: The Wine Room
Title: Founder/ Owner
Birthplace: Easton, MD
Years in the area: 10
Marital Status/Children: Single/ No just a 1 year old pup
Alma Mater/Degree: FSW/ Bachelors in Business Management and Administration. A few classes away from my MBA
What community group or organization are you most involved with? Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce
What's the weirdest job you've ever had? It's not really weird but I was an area manager for Amazon. I lived in a hotel in NJ for 3 months while going through the most insane management training. Then, moved to CT for 6 months and opened a facility where I managed 119 employees.
What's your top tip for being productive? Time management! I think we get so deep into work and our goals that it can be hard to include personal time in there. We need that time to focus on our own personal health in order to be re-energized to perform at the best of our ability.
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? I have two! I actually work full time for Lee County. The Wine Room is my "side" business even though I am there every evening and weekend. I also own a photography business. I love it because I stay business but with things I'm passionate about.
What's your favorite off-hours activity? Relaxing at home or traveling with my girlfriend. I love those few free nights where I can just relax on the couch and watch TV. If I can get a few days off, I love to see new places and eat new foods (we seek out the local wine bars and donut shops).
Have you gone to the movies in 2021? If yes, what did you see? Unfortunately, no.
What's the top item on your bucket list? To retire at the age of 40 and spend my time traveling the world!
What's your favorite podcast? I don't listen to them as much as I'd like to
Where is your happy place? Anywhere by the water or soaking up the beauty of a new place I've never visited.
Describe yourself in three words: Driven, Optimistic, Independent
Who is your mentor for your career and why? My Uncle Ricky. He has inspired me throughout life. He inspired me to want to leave our small hometown and see the world. He influenced my passion for wine. He's responsible when it comes to finances.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? The biggest lesson I've learned is that you can and should work hard in your career and still enjoy life. He has worked for the same company for over 30 years and makes sure to spend time traveling, golfing, and hanging out with the people who mean the most to him. It's so easy to get wrapped up in work, and forget that tomorrow isn't promised. That we have to embrace each day. He does just that. His job will always receive consistent effort, but he will also never miss that annual golf trip with his friends. He works hard to be able to enjoy life to the fullest. That's inspiring.