July Monthly Special Edition 2022
Growing up Katie Hamilton Shaffer, the visionary founder of Feast It Forward, dreamt of many things including beating the boys on the field, becoming an artist, singing for crowds and entertaining like Martha Stewart. So, as she grew up she pursued an art degree alongside collegiate athletics which was followed by a brief stint in Nashville to pursue a singing career and then a year on the semi-pro soccer circuit. But her entrepreneurial journey began when she moved to the Napa Valley 19 years ago to pursue a career in food and wine.
“When I moved to Napa Valley, my hope was to tie together everything that inspired me versus the singular career paths I could have pursued,” said Katie Hamilton Shaffer, founder of Feast It Forward. But while managing events at a local winery in the Napa Valley, her mentor’s daughter was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, a rare genetic neurological and developmental disorder that affects the way the brain develops, causing a progressive loss of motor skills and speech. Although Katie had just moved to wine country to pursue her ambitions, she saw this as an opportunity to give back and make a difference, while bringing together everything that inspired her. In 2004, she co-founded the Erika Van Giesen Foundation, alongside an annual epicurean gala, Erika’s Dream, to support it.
“This fundraising gala was a way to incorporate all my passions; food, wine and philanthropy, while throwing one heck of a party and sharing my love for entertaining,” explained Katie Shaffer. With the monies raised, Katie helped establish Katie’s Clinic at Children’s Hospital Oakland in 2006, which to this day, serves girls and their families afflicted with Rett throughout the Western United States.
In 2009, Katie Shaffer helped launch Wine, Women & Shoes; a food- and wine-based event that would eventually become a successful national fundraising platform. “Later that year, I released my first wine label Toolbox Wine Co., with a missionto craft affordable, quality driven wines that gave back.”
The same year, at Erika’s Dream, a few conversations led to her taking a leap of faith – to make her dream and vision a reality. Katie established Feast it Forward in 2010, a brand that offers access to all things food, wine and philanthropy. She has been at the helm of the brand and helped it grow organically. “Throughout the years I’ve been struck by what incredible things can be accomplished when you bring together amazing people over fantastic food and wine. Feast it Forward is the culmination of my joy for living my best life and making a difference while doing so,” she said.
Her outstanding vision and work has gotten Katie recognized far and wide in the U.S. She was adjudged one of San Francisco’s “Magnificent 7” leading entrepreneurs in Bay Area Food and Wine in 2011. She was also recognized as San Francisco’s 40 under 40 emerging leaders in business by the San Francisco Business Times in 2012.
Commenting on Feast It Forward, Katie said, “Risk and innovation are inextricably linked and wound together and I’ve always felt I can ‘see around corners’. I am a firm believer that our customer-centric experience and feel-good lifestyle will pave the way for how businesses interact, engage and market their brands.”
Seeking a platform to entertain and inspire alongside master chefs, actors, tastemakers, athletes, and musicians, Katie launched Feast.Network. It is a lifestyle network seeking to enlighten viewers through a unique experience of food, drink, entertainment and giving back. The platform won in the category of “Outstanding Vision” at Taste Awards in 2019.
Having filmed original content all around the country, Katie decided to embark upon the journey of building Feast It Forward’s flagship “click & mortar” from the ground up, The Studio by Feast it Forward in 2016. After nearly two years of construction, The Studio opened in 2018 in downtown Napa. This highly visible live-marketing venue is a film studio and an experiential showroom, which is shifting video network fans to consumers as everything experienced the moment you walk in through the door is an on-camera sponsor – essentially a sandbox for brands to engage visitors with a shop-the-look virtual hub and a multi-winery tasting collective offering glasses, bottle sales and flights throughout the expansive property.
“Vintners B, Wise Vineyards, Layne Family Wines and Acre Wines are our official sponsors who act as the ‘coke can in our movie’, when filming. Alongside hosting many community events, when live stream sessions occur in our film studio, 100% of the audience ticket-fee supports the charity of choice of the visiting talent,” emphasized the founder of Feast It Forward.
The Feast Doodles and Future
For as long as humans have existed, art has been part of our lives. Art is in the numerous paintings and engravings found in caves and shelters dating back to the Ice Age (Upper Palaeolithic), roughly between 40,000 and 14,000 years ago. And art today also exists on the numerous walls of Mission Street in San Francisco, LA, in the form of graffities.
For many thousands of years, people have been creating and enjoying art. It expresses emotions or expression of life. It is one such creation that enables interpretation of any kind. Katie Shaffer has been inspired by art since she was a little girl. She has drawn her dreams and goals in the hope that someday they would come true. Studying art in college enhanced her skills, which led to drawing every business idea and future vision to this day.
Today, she occasionally looks back upon her “inspiration book” of doodles, searching for old and fresh ideas while the current Feast it Forward products garner her intricate and playful drawings.
In fact, Katie’s first investor believed in her from a doodle on a napkin – a napkin!
Dubbed as “gourmet graffiti”, Katie’s sketches have been incorporated into Feast it Forward lifestyle “products with purpose” line of goods. First products launched were gourmet spice rubs and Stölzle glassware; “The Glass Does Make A Difference” which hit shelves late 2017.
After continued inquiries seeking her design input and hiring availability, Katie eventually decided it was time to establish a design consulting firm that shares her unique approach to a warm, playful and chic atmosphere for residential and commercial properties. She now offers interior design consulting as a service too!
Looking ahead, Katie mentions that there is a lot more to do. “I do have intentions of opening more experiential Studio venues across the country. It will be a cool opportunity for our vintner partners and national sponsors to have visibility in other markets, while the design vibe and interactive partners reflect that culture and location.”
Considering that Feast It Forward’s retail line of ‘products with purpose’ remains small, the entrepreneur says that she would love to develop a robust lifestyle product line that gives back in partnership with a large retail store. “I am not afraid to dream BIG. So, I can honestly say – I do believe Feast it Forward has the ability to become a household lifestyle brand name with a sincere purpose,” concluded Katie Shaffer.
Meet the Visionary
Just over 19 years ago (after hanging up her cleats from a brief stint of semi-professional soccer), Katie moved to Napa Valley to pursue a career in food and wine. While managing events at a local winery, her mentor’s daughter was diagnosed with a rare disorder, Rett Syndrome. Although she had just recently moved to the wine country, Katie saw this as an opportunity to give back and make a difference, while bringing together everything that inspired her.
In 2004, Katie co-founded the Erika Van Giesen Foundation, alongside an annual epicurean gala, Erika’s Dream, to support it. With the monies raised, in 2006 she helped establish Katie’s Clinic at Children’s Hospital Oakland, which to this day still serves girls and their families afflicted with Rett throughout the Western United States. This fundraising gala was a way to incorporate all her passions; FOOD, WINE & PHILANTHROPY, while throwing one heck of a party and sharing her love for entertaining.
In 2009 Katie helped launch Wine, Women & Shoes; a food and wine based event that would become a successful national fundraising platform. Later that year she released her first wine label Toolbox Wine Co., with a mission to craft affordable, quality driven wines that gave back. That same year at Erika’s Dream a few conversations led to Katie taking a leap of faith to make her dream a reality. With a “slow and grow” global concept in mind, the last 10 years have been dedicated to building the Feast it Forward brand. She first launched Feast.Network, a digital platform seeking to entertain and inspire alongside master chefs, actors, tastemakers and musicians. After filming original content for five years, Katie opened her flagship “click & mortar” in 2018, The Studio by Feast it Forward. This highly visible live marketing venue in downtown Napa is a film studio + experiential showroom shifting fans to consumers as everything experienced is an on-camera sponsor – essentially a sandbox for brands to engage visitors with a shop-the-look virtual hub alongside a multi-winery tasting collective. Pandemic hit and Katie began to construct The Yard by Feast it Forward, her newest outdoor event and live music venue with two-story shipping containers for brand activations, instagrammable moments and stage – a year round festival-like experience. An entrepreneur (aka take no prisoners) at heart, all of Katie’s experience has led to Feast.
She is also the co-founder of My Wine Society, a global wine app that hit the market in June 2018. In August 2020 received the coveted award “Top 20 Emerging Leaders in Food & Ag” while most recently receiving; “Top 30 Inspiring Women To Look Out For in 2022” from Disruptors Magazine, “The Top 10 Leaders to Follow in 2022” from Insights Success and “50 Fastest Growing Companies in 2022 to Watch” from Silicon Review.