Tag Archives: Women In The Tequila Industry

Women In The Tequila Industry: Carmen Villarreal by M.A. “Mike” Morales

Carmen Alicia Villarreal Treviño, The Original Tequila Boss Lady

Carmen Alicia Villarreal Treviño is a legend among Tequila Boss Ladies.  In fact, she is the original Tequila Boss Lady.

To date, she is the only female tequila distillery owner, taking the reins of Casa San Matías soon after the tragic death of her husband in 1997.  Determined to keep his dreams alive, Carmen proceeded to create some of the most emblematic brands in the business like Carmessí, Rey Sol, and Pueblo Viejo.

Known as a fine humanitarian and crusader for equal rights for women, Ms. Villarreal has piloted Casa San Matías into the 21st Century as an ecologically and socially responsible company, as well as raising the bar in the production of quality tequilas.

If you’ve been following our series, we asked a short list of five questions to prominent women leading the charge for change in the Tequila Industry and beyond.

[Editor’s note:  For the convenience of our interviewee and our Spanish speaking audience, this article is in both English and Spanish.]

Interview with Carmen Alicia Villarreal Treviño

TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a high ranking woman in your position in a primarily male dominated industry?

(¿Cómo describiría sus experiencias como una mujer de alto rango en su posición en una industria dominada principalmente masculina?)

CV:  My experience as a woman in the tequila industry has been very pleasant and I’ve always been shown respect, support and affection by my colleagues.  As with many women, my most important challenge has been to combine my personal and family life with my work and within the industry, to compete on a global scale as a family business.

Pueblo Viejo tequila, Carmen Villareal, san matias

Pueblo Viejo tequila

(Mi experiencia como mujer dentro de la industria tequilera ha sido muy agradable, he recibido siempre de mis colegas muestras de respeto, apoyo y cariño. Mi reto más importante ha sido, como el de muchas mujeres, el de combinar la vida personal y familiar con el trabajo y dentro del sector el de competir en un mundo global como empresa familiar.)

TA:  How have you been able to change things within your industry?

(¿Cómo han sido capaces de cambiar las cosas dentro de su industria?)

CV:  I’ve worked vehemently to strengthen the image of quality of our house [distillery] by enlarging the brand portfolio that we offer to the market.  I’ve dreamed of achieving total growth as a company by caring for the human aspect and the social environment.

We have the satisfaction [distinction] of being the first tequila company to be certified as a “Great Place to Work” and also the first to participate in the program of the sale of carbon credits that the United Nations promotes to combat global warming.  We are in the process of certifying as a company with gender equality, and also being the first company in the tequila industry to obtain [achieve] it.

(He trabajado fuertemente por fortalecer la imagen de calidad de nuestra casa ampliando el portafolio de marcas que ofrecemos al mercado. He soñado con lograr un crecimiento integral como compañía, cuidando el aspecto humano y el entorno social.

Casa San Matías, Carmen Villareal, san matias

Casa San Matías

(Tenemos la satisfacción de ser la primera empresa tequilera en certificarse como un “Great Place to Work” y también la primera en participar en el programa de venta de bonos de carbono que promueve la ONU para combatir el sobrecalentamiento global. Estamos en proceso de la certificación de empresas con equidad de género, siendo también la primera en la industria tequilera en obtenerlo.)

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila Industry?

(¿Qué ves como el futuro de las mujeres que trabajan en la industria del Tequila?)

CV:  Fortunately, [I see] the doors of the industry have opened for women.  Every time there is more participation and recognition for the work we carry out.  Without a doubt, I expect the future for women to be very promising, especially in the areas of research, product development, quality [control], bottling, administration and marketing.

(Afortunadamente veo que las puertas de la industria se han abierto para las mujeres, cada vez hay más participación y reconocimiento al trabajo que desempeñamos. Espero sin duda que el futuro será muy prometedor para las mujeres, especialmente en las áreas de investigación, desarrollo de productos, calidad, envasado, administración y mercadotecnia.)

TA:  What things would you like to see changed?

Rey Sol Extra Añejo, Carmen Villareal, san matias

Rey Sol Extra Añejo

(¿Qué cosas gustaría cambiado?)

CV:  There are lots of things I’d like to see changed.

I’d like to see an industry that could vertically integrate itself with the agricultural sector, achieving  a way to generate wealth for the land, the rural communities and for the industrialists.

I’d like to see the continued support of the participation of women in the industry, that we evolve to support them with more flexibility in programs and childcare.

I would love to see the Tequila category as one of the strongest in the world renowned for its quality.

(Hay muchas cosas que me gustaría cambiar…

(Me gustaría ver a una industria que pudiera integrarse verticalmente con el sector agrícola, logrando encontrar la forma de generar riqueza para el campo, para las comunidades rurales y para los industriales.

Carmessí, Carmen Villareal, san matias

Carmessí, made for adventuresome women.

(Quisiera que siguiéramos apoyando la participación de las mujeres en la industria, que evolucionáramos para apoyarlas más con flexibilidad en programas y cuidado de los niños.

(Me encantaría ver al Tequila cómo una de las categorías más fuertes en el mundo, reconocida por su calidad.)

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila Industry in one form or another?

(¿Existe algo que le gustaría decir a las mujeres que pueden estar contemplando entrar y trabajar en la industria del Tequila en una forma u otra?)

CV:  I’d like to tell them to believe in themselves, in their potential.  The industry needs the participation of professional, talented and dedicated women to contribute to the growth of the sector.

(Me gustaría decirles que crean en ellas, en su potencial, que la industria está necesitada de la participación de mujeres profesionales, talentosas y dedicadas para contribuir al crecimiento del sector.)

***

Follow Casa San Matías (via Pueblo Viejo) on Facebook.

Follow them on Twitter @CasaSanMatiasUS

 

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Women In The Tequila Industry: Sophie Decobecq by M. A. “Mike” Morales

No list of Tequila Boss Ladies would be complete without mentioning the likeable and charismatic Sophie Decobecq, creator of the award winning Calle 23 Tequila.

Aside from her wacky sense of humor where marketing her tequila is concerned (‘Tequila makes us smarter. So, drink smart” is one of her favorite slogans), Sophie has a unique perspective on the Tequila Industry.  Not just a female master distiller, Sophie is also French born which presents its own set of challenges.

To reiterate, we asked a short list of five questions to prominent women leading the charge for change in the Tequila Industry and beyond.

Read on!

***

TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a high ranking woman in your position in a primarily male dominated industry?

 SD:  It has been, so far, a rich human experience combined with a non-stop working period.

Tequila is a male dominated industry, or to be more precise, a Mexican male industry.  Meaning that there is a cultural dimension to it, with its own rules.

Being a foreigner, you have to respect them or better you do your life somewhere else.  I have been told only once by a tequilero that this was not a place for me, being a woman; this exception being completely forgotten thanks to many other tequileros who have made me a very nice space in their world.

Calle 23.

Calle 23.

 TA:  How have you been able to change things within your industry?

 SD:  Did I ever change anything? (laughs). What I may have added is a point of view from a non-native person, with cultural habits of protecting traditions.  I still view through French eyes this industry in which I am deep inside for more than a decade, giving me the pride to represent, as best as possible, this Mexican treasure I fell in love with, and to spread the word about the category that is for me the future of tequila:  “tequila 100% agave”giving the full spirit of the agave plant (compared to the category “tequila”which is produced with only a minimum of 51% of agave).

My way of working in this industry follows a woman’s heart, which I would describe in my case as encouraging local economy, sustainable processes and Mexican culture, instead of having a business focused on money efficiency.

Please don’t literaly interprete this, as this is a very general vision.  There are many amazing men here doing this too, an example being Carlos Camarena from Tapatio keeping a place for his employees until they decide to retire.

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila Industry?

 SD:  Future is to build!  The industry is growing and there will be naturally space for more men and women. Current problem is that women are confronted with more difficulties to enter into it:  for the fact of being a woman, their capacity to handle the work is a challenge.  Same, in fact, as in other industries like politics.

Tequila Rules!

Tequila Rules!

There has been a female candidate running for Mexican presidency this year, and comments you could hear in medias and in the streets were mostly about being a woman more than about her program.  Which ever program each candidate had during these elections, no time was spent to question the fact that the other candidates were “men.”  Same in tequila, when importance should be on the objectives and the paths chosen.  Don’t you think?

TA:  What things would you like to see changed?

 SD:  Less judgment based on gender.  I am not a feminist, just humanist:  considering people for their ideas and the persistency of their actions rather than their gender or social level from where they come from.

[The Tequila] Industry had amazing women in the past, leading and impacting tequila empire as Herradura.  It would be good to see that native women could have the opportunity to retake more often that place, if they are the best ones.  Not for being a woman, but for being the individual person that would be the best leader at that moment, as it actually was the case with Carmelita [Villarreal] from San Matias and Lucretia from Siete Leguas.

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila Industry in one form or another?

Sophie Decobecq (Photo by Chris McCarthy)

Sophie Decobecq (Photo by Chris McCarthy)

SD:  If this is your dream, follow it!!

Advice that I would give is persistency, respect for the amazing knowledge Mexicans have about this process that they have as a heritage, and unconditional patience for all the unexpected you will find on you way.

This unexpected and unplanned part is frustrating at the beginning, but trust me, after some time you kind of become addicted to it.  Every day is a challenge with many efforts to give, but you then earn a life with beautiful aromas and flavors around you, as well as joy, smiles, music, street-non-stop-sounds, colors, beauty of agave plants and so much more.

Welcome to [the] Tequila world!

***

Follow Sophie Decobecq on Facebook.

Follow Calle 23 Tequila on Twitter @TequilaCalle23

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Women In The Tequila Industry: Cecilia Norman by M.A. “Mike” Morales

We continue our series of Women In The Tequila Industry with Cecilia Norman, Communication Manager for the Tequila Interchange Project, a non-profit organization and consumer advocacy group for tequila.

We asked Ceci and other prominent women leading the charge for change in the Tequila Industry and beyond a short list of questions.  As you’ll read, it hasn’t been all margaritas and roses for any of these tequila boss ladies.

TIP is comprised of bartenders, consultants, educators, academics, consumers and tequila enthusiasts. It advocates the preservation of sustainable, traditional, and quality practices in the tequila industry amid concerning trends currently becoming mainstays in the industry. Through their efforts and increased consumer education, they strive for continued growth in the tequila industry with a renewed emphasis on the importance of preserving tequila’s great heritage.

***

TA:  What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila Industry?

CN:  It’s like any male dominated industry, you face preconceived notions of what a woman’s role is in society or the industry.

Personally, I’ve never paid much attention to any of it.  If I want to do something I make it happen.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the spirits, film, tequila, robotics, rocket science or pink elephant hunting.  It all comes down to personal effort and the pursuit for good attainable goals.  If I spent any time thinking about other people standing in the way, I wouldn’t do anything.  Instead, I think of what’s best for everyone and myself, then put my mind to getting it done.

TA:  What facets of the Tequila Industry would you like to see change?

CN:  I want to see it become a diverse, fair industry that makes a lot of money for everyone involved and focuses on plant health, worker health, and becoming something that is sustainable for thousands of years. TA:  Do you approve of its brands current marketing strategies?

I believe in brands that market transparently and honestly… and silliness.  Give me all your data, processes, and let me decide if I want to drink your product.  If I don’t, let’s have a conversation about it.

TA:  How would you run things? What would you like to see change?

CN:  I would run things where everything grows.  Of course some brands will do better than others, some will remain local, and some will fail entirely… but developing business to look out for what’s best for everyone will help the industry.  There are too many nuances to keep just dollar signs the main focus.

 
 
Follow Cecilia Norman on Facebook and Twitter @cecinorman.
Follow the Tequila Interchange Project on Facebook, and Twitter @ThinkTequila.
 

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