Muse | Michele Ouellet

No two days are ever the same for model and vintner Michele Ouellet. While most her days involve an airport, Michele’s dream day would start off with some Kundalini yoga, followed by cooking a beautiful meal, an afternoon swim and an evening of dancing. Her wine business, Lorenza Rosé—which she runs with her mother—is celebrating its 10th vintage this year. She grew up in Napa Valley, so wine-making is in her blood. With her hectic schedule, she’s often on-the-go often, but she now calls Manhattan her home. Above all, Michele just wants to spread love with whatever she does.

Sun Sign: Gemini

Describe what it’s like being in business with your mom.

I love being in business with my mom. We started our company together 10 years ago because we wanted to remain connected despite my rigorous travel schedule. She has been a gracious guide and teacher. My mom has amazing insight and 30 years of experience in the wine industry, so I have always felt really confident with her by my side. She has always supported my opinions and ideas and understands our different strengths. I was quite young when we started Lorenza and she’s never made me feel like my youth or inexperience was an issue. I think we make a great team and there are rarely issues we can’t compromise on.

How did the brand Lorenza come to be?

My mom and I were inspired by the great rosés of Provence and wanted to make a wine just as delicate, elegant and delicious. We started out small with 250 cases and kept our priority on quality over quantity and have kept making wine with intention.

Why did you decide on the name “Lorenza”?

My middle name is Lorenza, after my paternal grandfather, Lorenzo. He was a bon vivant who lived in hotels and led a fabulous life. He would have definitely enjoyed some Lorenza Rosé had it been around!

What is it about wine that you are passionate about?

I grew up in wine country and love the community around wine. It’s a beautiful way for people to connect with each other around the world. It’s something you can learn about for the rest of your life. I love the connection to nature it brings me.

Why Rosè?

Rosé makes people happy. We are all about spreading the love. It can instantly transport you to your favorite summer memory with just a sip.

What is your favorite snack or meal to pair with your wine?

My favorite classic pairing is rosé and French fries. My other favorite is spicy ahi poke tacos! Our rosé pairs with literally anything–but especially salty things.

Describe the feeling of being scouted and your success after being brought into the modeling world.

I was 15 when I was scouted, and by that time I had heard that I “should try modeling” many times already. I was interested in the industry, but my priorities were volleyball and school, at the time. I was around 21, and had already started Lorenza, when my career really took off. The balance of having my own business and other interests was really integral to my success. It’s a really tough business, but I found that only after I had developed my sense of self and learned that my worth goes beyond looks, that the doors started to really open up modeling wise. It’s a lesson I am still working on, but I’m so grateful to be able to work in both of these industries.

How has the modeling business changed since you’ve been in it?

Social media has changed everything. The most successful models have a voice and a point of view. We are no longer required to be silent, obedient, anonymous faces. Now is the time for speaking up, being yourself and lifting those around you.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

I love the travel and the education I get from exploring this globe. It applies to both the wine and fashion business. We have a lot to learn from other cultures, countries, people and I feel so fortunate to have many opportunities to connect with people all over the world through fashion and wine.

Talk about what it's like owning your own business—or two really, the wine company and your modeling career.

There are a lot of similarities between my careers, but I love the fact that I have more control in the wine business. Lorenza is the result of a collaboration with my mom and we’re so proud and excited about what we’ve built. My modeling career has also been very rewarding and has expanded my worldview. There have been a lot of unexpected synergies between both, which have worked out really well.

How do you find balance, prioritize and just have fun?

I’m still working on this. I try to do everything. I’m a naturally energetic person, so I’m always up for cramming it all in. I’m learning that there is power in taking time for yourself and it only helps you to perform better in the long run. I have fun doing both of my jobs, but my personal challenge is knowing when to take breaks and realize that I’m never going to be able to do every job, event or tasting. Luckily, I have my wonderful mother to lean on with Lorenza.

How do you want this world to be different because you lived in it?

I’m all about spreading the love. I see life through rosé colored glasses and if I can bring a little smile to someone’s day that makes me happy. I love to encourage those around me and remind them to dream big.

How do you want to be different because you lived in this world?

I want to continue developing a deeper relationship with myself and know I spoke my truth.

What keeps you up at night?

Dealing with travel logistics! Also, pure, deep excitement! 

What question would you like to be asked that generally doesn't come up in interviews?

What’s the last magical experience you had?!

(Interview by Adriana Gallina, Photography by BB)