Co-owner of Bliss Books & Wine spills on the challenges and joys of launching a family business

Keeping anything but a merlot profile.
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Sisters La’Nesha Frazier and La’Nae Robinson went from swapping bedtime stories to shopping for a brick-and-mortar location for their bookstore, Bliss Books & Wine. // Courtesy La’Nae Robinson

Sisters La’Nae Robinson and La’Nesha Frazier co-own Bliss Books & Wine, which has been keeping anything but a merlot profile. 

Although it opened only a few years ago, Bliss has already been featured in an article in The Oprah Magazine and was awarded the 2022 Emerging Business Award by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. The business is also taking the lead in organizing crafts for this year’s Romance GenreCon Aug. 4-6.

Robinson shares her expertise as a bibliophile and the changes in her relationship with her sister from childhood to now.

Social Handles: 

Facebook: BlissBooksWine

IG: @Bliss_Books_Wine_KC

Twitter: BlissBooksWine

Hometown: Kansas City, MO

Current neighborhood: 

Aldie, VA / South Kansas City (Robinson)

Downtown East KC (Frazier)

The Pitch: What is it like co-owning a business with your sister? How has your relationship evolved since you were kids? 

Running a business with my sister has been incredibly exciting.  In a lot of ways, it is easy, because we are very familiar with each other’s personalities, strengths, and weaknesses.  Then there is the fine line that we walk because we are very familiar with each other’s personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. At the end of the day, it is exhilarating to build this company from the ground up with all of our family members pitching in to help us establish this legacy.  It is truly a family business.

From the initial conception of the company to how we currently split up tasks, we have fallen into our traditional roles.  When she initially ran the idea by me, I was ready to move forward (and in turn pushed her forward), and I generally tend to make strong suggestions. According to La’Nesha, I volunteer her for a lot of things. Oops! So in those terms, not much has changed from me highly recommending she read books with me at bedtime; however, she is more vocal as an adult.

After founding Bliss Books & Wine in 2019, how did you have to adjust expectations and practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Our preliminary path for Bliss was hosting popup events around the metro Kansas City area.  These were interactive events where we would gather with patrons and local authors to read, sip and have a relaxing time together.  After several events at the close of 2019, we thought we had our plan solidified and were ready to move forward.  We had even begun looking at property and were very close to signing a lease in the first part of 2020.

Enter the COVID-19 pandemic, stay-at-home orders, and the close of the world. As a new company, we had to find a way to stay afloat and keep our growing community engaged. This was indeed a terrifying time, but we had the exciting opportunity to be creative and expand our offerings. Instead of completely shutting down operations, we chose to pivot during the pandemic and moved our entire operation online. We revamped our website, opened our online store, offered audiobooks and eBooks, and began hosting virtual paint & sips, writing workshops, author events, and wine tastings.

What are some of the pop-ups you’ve participated in? 

We’ve held several on our own as well as in conjunction with other organizations.  Let’s see….

  • Do Good Co
  • Kate KC
  • Tirza Design Empowering Women
  • Corks for a Cause with KC Wineworks
  • The Black Pantry
  • KC Black Owned
  • InnovateHER KC and The Strawberry Swing
  • KC Biz Care at City Hall
  • Prairie Village Juneteenth Celebration
  • Juneteenth KC Friday on the Vine
  • Harriman-Jewell
  • Fresh Factory KC
  • Uncorked KC Wine Festival
  • PublisHER Author Expo in support of United WE
  • The Nelle
  • MSC Rescue Holiday Fair
  • Mean Mule Mother’s Day Pop Up

How have you been gearing up for Romance GenreCon?

The Beginning

La’Nae Robinson became an avid reader as a child and encouraged her sister to do the same. // Courtesy La’Nae Robinson

We’ve been ready for Romance GenreCon 2022 since 2021!  We assisted with last year’s virtual conference by filming some book and wine pairing segments at Weston Wine Co in Weston, MO.  Soon afterward we began brainstorming with the team about a fun fan activity for this year.  As planning progressed, we started researching the guest authors and deciding which of their (many) titles we would spotlight during the book fair.  We have also enlisted the help of another local vendor to provide the supplies for Saturday’s craft activity.  The rest of our days have been spent securing the books from the publishers and distribution centers and organizing them all.  The team at the Mid-Continent Public Library has done a fantastic job at creating engaging content to promote the event. We love sharing those with our followers!

Now onto the hard stuff… What’s your favorite book you have in stock?

That’s a mean question, it’s like making me choose a favorite child!  Untamed by Glennon Doyle held that title for a couple of years, but at this exact moment The Personal Librarian by Victoria Christopher Murray and Marie Benedict is leading the pack.

What’s your go-to brand and variety of wine after a long day of work? 

Olema Cabernet Sauvignon. 

What title would you recommend to anyone who’s struggling to get into reading? 

The Hunger Games trilogy.

Where is the ideal location for your brick-and-mortar store? 

We’ve actually found our ideal location that checks all of our boxes! It’s located in Midtown KC at 3502 Gillham Rd.

Categories: Questionnaire