What a disease tought this entrepreneur

Positive Phil  (AUTHOR)

Positive Phil (AUTHOR)

Author of Startup & Go, The Ultimate Guide to the Serial Entrepreneur

Sprakling Wine Leah Caplanis Positive Phil

Featuring Leah Caplanis: CEO of SOCIAL Sparkling Wine

Leah got her entrepreneurial hustle after being diagnosed with Thyroid cancer.

Leah Caplanis is the founder and CEO of SOCIAL Sparkling Wine, a company she launched in 2014 after successfully battling and beating cancer.

At 26, Caplanis was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and instead of the traditional surgery route, she took control of her health, became vegan, stopped drinking alcohol and explored more holistic ways to heal. During her journey, she studied at Hippocrates Health Institute and Kushi Institute for Macrobiotics in Massachusetts.

After three years on her healing path, her cancer was cured and Caplanis was ready to get her social life back without compromising her passion for health and wellness. During her recovery, she realized that there were no healthy alcohol options on the market. With the help of expert brew master Ray Klimovitz, co-founder of Izze Sparkling Soda, she developed a truly clean alcohol beverage, and soon, SOCIAL Sparking Wine, an organic, low-calorie, gluten and sulfite free sparkling sake wine, was born.

Prior to launching SOCIAL Sparkling Wine, Caplanis worked in sales and marketing for Nestle USA. She holds an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University.

Dedicated to empowering people to live a more vibrant, connected, happy and healthy life, she is also Level II Reiki certified.

Caplanis has been featured on CNBC’s Billion Dollar Buyer and profiled in numerous major news publications and broadcasts, and is frequently asked to speak at major conferences, including LA Women’s Expo and Digital Hollywood. She currently resides in Chicago and California.



SOCIAL Sparkling Wine is currently available in over 4,000 locations in almost every state in the United States. The company is looking forward to expand in the next year to Canada, Europe and Asia Pacific. Leah is also very focused on development, with new products including flavored water and herbal-based liqueurs.

Leah recently appeared as a guest on the Positive Phil podcast. During her exclusive interview, she shared some of the challenges that early stage companies experience, how to raise financing, ways to become profitable faster, bouncing back during difficult times, and many other topics.

The Two Most Important Factors in Entrepreneurship  

Leah Caplanis is the kind of woman who can go through a challenging and debilitating experience but come out stronger than ever before. She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at only the age of 26, but through her journey with cancer, she discovered more about herself and ultimately started her own company a few short years later. Leah is now the CEO of SOCIAL Sparkling Wine, a deliciously refreshing, sparkling wine line. Her dream is to revolutionize the alcohol market, as she works to create products that taste good and are good for the consumer too. Prior to launching SOCIAL, Leah worked for Nestle USA for eight years in sales and marketing. She received her MBA from University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and her bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University. She currently resides in Chicago, working tirelessly on making her brand the best it can be.

It’s remarkable not only what Leah has gone through with her health, but how she created and blossomed a business with the intent to offer women an alcoholic drink alternative that’s more refreshing and healthy. Find out more about Leah and SOCIAL in our interview below!

Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:

  • The pros and cons behind the Beverage Business


Ready Today on the show we have to Leah Caplanis. And I hope I said that name right. Yeah, did great. Awesome. I’m happy that you’re on the show. I actually watched one of your videos probably a week ago and I had a little tear coming down my face and felt like fearless and some of the struggles or the low that maybe you encountered in your life and how you marched back up. And I’m looking at your brand social sparkling wine and the fact that it’s in 4,000 stores and some of the success that you’re having. So I’m just happy that you’re here. Um, so could you please introduce yourself and a little bit about why or how you got started in this business? Sure, yes.

Speaker 1: (00:57)
Yeah, yeah. You know, so it really was a tough time. Uh, that kind of led to the creation of this business. It was, you know, and the most challenging things in my life, which was being diagnosed with thyroid cancer when I was 26 and I chose to heal the list instead of having surgery, alcohol, I started doing lots of juice cleanses and really meeting so many people who were open minded to possibilities of healing holistically, so different and our energy healers, you know, using acupuncture or eastern medicine, Reiki, all kinds of different things. And as I did that, I just started feeling better and better and really started to come alive. And before I knew it, I had more energy than I had ever had and we full life and Aye, I W I was healed a couple of years later and yeah. So three years later, I’ll actually, two years in, I realized that I wanted to drink. Okay. Because I saw that, you know, sometimes alcohol helps bring people together to relax, to teach on their walls and connect with each other. And I liked that. Um, but I couldn’t find anything that was really clean. And so I started, I started, yeah, I started pulling a team together. And for when you really have something.

Speaker 1: (02:32)
So I didn’t, I had, well I had worked at Nestle for about eight years in sales and I was gateway MBA part time university Chicago in marketing. And so I did a business competition where we can create this plan. And I had a lot of mentorship to say, you know, here, here’s some ways to do this. But basically I just brought in people smarter than me in those areas who said, you know, you can go and you can talk to a companies that you can tell them, you know, I want an organic low sugar product. I love it. You know, I have a quick story. When I moved here, California from Wisconsin back in 97 trying to be famous and I want to be an entrepreneur, but I ended up working at this hotel to put myself through school in La Jolla. It was beautiful bartending and this guy always used to walk in and he would have flip flops on and this dog, okay.

Speaker 1: (03:34)
And his dog was named healer. And one day I said, why did you name your dog killer? He said, so, you know, I was diagnosed with cancer and my dog kept bringing a hose over to me. He kept pushing his water bowl over to me. So I spent months drunk drinking from a hose and I cleanse my cell phone. Yes sir. So he started, I ended, he ended up starting a very big water company. You were in Carlsbad. Um, but she would have at the bar. Oh, cloaked soda bitters. Oh, thing with the tea leaf in it. And a little sparkling wine. No, she, that was his healthy option. But here I am making this contraction for him and all he wanted to do is sit there and be social, listen to the piano, watch the ocean. And now that was 20 years ago and I don’t see anything healthy on the market in terms of drinking.

Speaker 1: (04:41)
He sounds, he sounds pretty amazing. Yeah. Right. That’s why when I heard your story, I said, you know what? Give me someone that has diagnosed with cancer. I can’t even think about it. I don’t, I wouldn’t even know. I would probably say, give me all the pharmaceutical Pitt give me. But you’re doing the whole healthy and you brought this into the drinking aspect because drinking is bad in a way, but if you have a little, yeah. You know, it’s weird. It’s a Gotcha. Alcohol has been around since the stone age. Yeah. For me it’s been the best of times and it’s been the worst of times and it really, it really amplifies kind of what’s going on within us, whether that’s, you know, we have a lot of buried emotions of anger. Sadness kind of brings us out. If we have a lot of joy to express or she see them sitting and relaxing, whatever it kind of is, it sort of accentuates whatever’s going on there.

Speaker 1: (05:47)
Oh. So, you know, it’s, it’s, um, yeah, for me it was just that I, you know, I wanted to be able to have some of those good times without so many, like hurting my body so much. Yeah. That’s how interesting. Okay. Oh yeah. I like it. I mean, as an entrepreneur it’s not all fun and games. Right. It’s not all happened overnight. I mean, were you taking, I mean, were you getting paid right away? I mean, how do you build a brand from scratch? To me it’s like, what the heck are you doing? I bet maybe people around you said that, what are you doing? There’s competitors, there’s this, you’re not going to be able to let you know how hard it is to get into whole foods or whatever.

Speaker 1: (06:36)
You kind of mentioned it earlier about crawling, crawling your way out. I really feel that that’s such a good sort of metaphor for any obstacles that we face where you were sitting there and we’re, we’re in a state of fear or sadness or anxiety or pressure, whatever it is, and it’s like we can reach for one, one little bit of energy, one little good piece of good news. When little smile, someone smiles at us, you know, and it’s like, what I would do is I feel like I’m on this, you know, like I’m following the crumbs that are laid out in life where it’s like, oh, you know, I’m having a rough day and you know, sometimes I’ve seen really dirty, scary motels. I’ve slept in my car. We were going to go bankrupt about six months in, we were really in debt, kind of quit, but some really tough times.

Speaker 1: (07:33)
But what I would do is I would just kind of be as peaceful as possible. Realize that in the moment I’m safe, I’m fine. No, I mean this is worse. Things have happened and goes bankrupt. So remembering that I’m okay getting centered and then being open. Good news coming though, you know, or reaching out to someone who has the positive energy, uh, that can, they can share with me in that moment when I really need a lift and say, Hey, I’ll let that end and then I feel a little better and then maybe I get a good night’s rest and then I wake up and some other good news comes in where I go and work out, elevate myself, and then all of a sudden I’m feeling good again. Like I can bounce wise.

Speaker 1: (08:30)
It’s not easy. Life isn’t easy businesses and easy and you put those together. Sometimes it’s like, oh my goodness. Well what can you do sometimes for when it’s going really good. And I’ve been there, I been in the car, in the gutter and this and some by choice, right. Just trying to, I went the wrong way and drank a little too much. And then, and now I wake up and I have family on 45 sometimes. I wonder now. It’s so good. When will, somebody should cause it’s always like kind of freaks me out at times. Yeah. Yeah. So I think there’s a term for that called like upper limiting. Yeah.

Speaker 1: (09:12)
And you know, it’s like when I, as, as I keep going and as life gets better and better every day, I experienced the same thing where I’m like, oh my gosh, am I worthy of this? You know, are people going to find out that I don’t really deserve this? Do I really not, you know, not deserve this? Um, am I in the wrong club? Like they, they, I just snuck into this club, wonderful, amazing people. And I actually think that part of our job, she really experienced the life we want to uplevel our nervous system. So taking in all of those, that joy and being able to sustain that throughout our body.

Speaker 1: (09:59)
And it’s like your um, reprogramming your, your, your, your neurological system instead of being triggered by, you know, anger or trauma, you know, things that we may have grown up with or experienced at different times. Trauma, those are the things that maybe we were used to or lower vibrations. But as you know, reset ourselves I think is fine. It comes back to that be peaceful, letting those fearful thoughts pass and then you know, more and more just letting it in. You know what I do for a living by the clock in the morning and I get this feeling of inspiration and peace. A little therapy, which is good for me and I appreciate it. Yeah, it’s a daily practice. I mean is, it’s a moment by moment practice. You know, I just met a new friend and she, she welcomed me into her home. I’m in Tampa right now and I don’t know her very well, but okay.

Speaker 1: (11:01)
I ended up in like a, you know, four or $5 million home right on the water and they own all these beautiful businesses and they’re just treated as people. And I’m thinking they want to be my friend for a long time. They want to support me and they just, you know, and I’m thinking, wow, this is, you know, so beautiful, peaceful. And I have to, you know, sometimes like cry it out. Just feel so much gratitude and then warm or cold gratitude. Okay. Just be grateful for what you have right now. I think that trust you greater towards success. Okay. Hmm. Yeah. You remember that book? The power of infinite love and gratitude. No, but that sounds beautiful and I’ll probably listen it later today. Yeah. Or there’s also even like Dr Mojo’s work on the, on the water with like, when you speak to different crystals and the most, well symmetrical crystals are like love and gratitude, even in all different languages.

Speaker 1: (12:11)
It’s really powerful book and we’re made up of so much water. So that’s been really lunch, you know, just knowing that like, you know, we respond to that two, that type of treatment and that type of, you know, um, when I say energy, but just that vibration of putting us in a state of gratitude. Like what does that make your body look like? Making us look beautiful and peaceful and symmetrical. And so, um, yeah, so I have a gratitude book. Okay. I don’t do it every night, but I, I just write down just a little, just a little square on page that just says, you know, what are you grateful for today? And it’s like, I’d say I’m only going to put, you know, one or two or three things, but a lot of times they end up just saying, this person, this person ended up with 10 things instantly changes how I feel about the day.

Speaker 1: (13:12)
Awesome. Where can we find this product? Where can you find your product? And I’ve, I had a before in the past, my wife brought it two bottles. I mean, you ramped up quickly, 4,000 locations. Yeah. So we are now in all 50 states and the biggest retailers, mostly grocery retailers. Well, we got into Costco. Yeah, yeah. Oh, in four regions. Total lines, and you can also order it online as well. What’s the website? Social sparkling wine.com. I’m so happy for you. I think the people around you. I mean, you do have this beautiful vibe that comes through the microphone to my ears. I mean your peaceful voice. I feel peace. I’m restless. I’m supposed to be positive. Philadelphia, always positive, blah, blah, blah. Well, I try to be, I try to give a little smile and this podcast I can introduce you to people and I’m grateful that you said, yeah, I’ll be on the show and I’m grateful that you’re doing what you’re doing.

Speaker 1: (14:32)
What’s the toughest thing right now in your business that you’re up against? Yeah, I will. Personally, I’m also very grateful for you and you know, we’re all trying. No one is just peaceful all day long. I just don’t think that that’s how this works. Practice. Okay. It’s a daily, a daily thing and we can’t beat ourselves up when we have negative thoughts or feelings. It’s just, it’s a daily, a daily thing for me anyway. Um, yeah, so the toughest part right now is probably managing our growth. You know, we have so many, fortunately we have a lot of opportunities and it’s having, you know, hiring the right people that really fit our culture, that, uh, you know, are, are really hard working, but also very positive, you know, and really, you know, kind of are good vibes. That’s really important for, you know, our office is to keep a lot of positivity.

Speaker 1: (15:36)
Yeah. You know, productivity. So I’m just hiring and trying to find fine, you know, our team so that we can, you know, really sell as many places as we good and just kind of keep growing. Yeah. Yeah. I love it. The growth chapter, I love it. You mentioned it earlier, finding people around you that inspire you and it’s the same. I would, well this for business, if you really, you have to find the, and sometimes it’s hard on the resume, you know, does this person inspire his coworkers or other people around? Then you have to really try to find that person, reach into his soul and see what he’s really made out of. It’s hard sometimes. Yeah, no. Yeah. Okay. You know, what are they saying? Remember what someone says, but you always remember how they made you feel. Yes. For me that’s like a reminder of all I’m making people feel today.

Speaker 1: (16:40)
Did I make that person feel good or did it after I left? Yeah. Disrespected. Did they feel on scene? On herd. It was just a transaction, you know? Um, so yeah. Well I’m really looking for the people that I feel good around. Okay. Oh, you’re going, you’re going fireplaces. You’re going to the moon. Okay. I will let you go. I appreciate you being on the show. I love it. Item actually, even though it’s morning time, I am going to hope so much for having me. You are amazing. It’s so, it’s so nice to just have your positive encouragement. Really appreciate it and I get a chance to meet someday or interact. Give me a hug. Okay, thank you. I’ll see you later, right? Okay. Bye. Bye.(

Positive Phil Podcast
About the Author
Positive Phil is a motivational keynote speaker & start-up consultant. Focusing on revenue generation & new business acquisitions. Founder & CEO @Audio inc. Business developer since age 12. Public Company Start up CEO, $investor -Public speaker #podcaster #motivator Enjoying life.

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