Women In The Tequila Industry: Kim Brandi

KAH_SOM2012No other Tequila Boss Lady to date inspires more compassion and empathy from women, colleagues, and tequila connoisseurs alike than Kim Brandi.

Although surrounded by swirling controversy from constant legal–and very public–battles over the much sought after juice and painted skulls of her brainchild, KAH–Day of the Dead Tequila, she continues to move forward.

This creative dynamo is responsible for such recognizable brands as Kah’s doppelganger, Sangre de Vida Tequila and Mezcal, Flashbang tequila, Apocalypto tequila, and Deadhead Rum.

Despite litigious low tides and high tides that would dishearten the average agave spirits entrepreneur, Kim’s glass continues to remain half full of tequila, and now, mezcal.

Here’s her take on our standard handful of questions in this series.

KBJM

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TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a woman in KB_Tequilaa primarily male dominated industry?  (What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila/Mezcal Industries?) 

KB:  While the tequila industry may seem to be very male dominated at first glance, if you look closer, you will see that women are not just a part of its creation, they are a vital component.

As a female CEO, importer and distributor, I work with women at every level of our production.

On the bottling line, I worked shoulder to shoulder with other women to fill and box our tequila.  The list goes on:

From scheduling production runs to quality control, and from printing packaging supplies to supply chain management—even our supervisor at our distribution center in the City of Industry, CA, is a woman.

KB_CreatorDue to the prevalence of ladies in tequila, I am not forced to face the challenges one may associate with a female in a “male dominated” industry; instead, I have the pleasure of working with plenty of incredible and inspiring women everyday.

TA:  How have you been able to change things within the Tequila/Mezcal Industries?

KB:  One of the most important changes that has fueled the tequila and mezcal revolution has been the education of the trade and final consumer.

Prior to becoming a brand owner, I worked in publishing for the beverage 001trade industry and volunteered with the Spirits of Mexico, whose founder, Dori Bryant, brought tequila out of the dark ages of only drinking it as a shot with a lime and salt.

Through both experiences, I fell in love with tequila and was able to share my knowledge with others.  Specifically, I educated the trade about the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes and the advantages of utilizing sustainable practices.

These lessons were central in the creation of my brands; I sought out suppliers who implemented eco-friendly manufacturing practices, such as waste water treatment facilities and recycling programs.

DeadheadRumTA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila/Mezcal Industries?

KB:  As previously noted, I believe we already have a strong workforce of amazing women in the tequila industry, and this group will only expand.

My dream is for these women to receive the recognition that they deserve.

It seems that we, as women, oftentimes pass on compliments to others.  By doing so, we belittle our own accomplishments.

I hope we gain the self-confidence to own our success and become the role models for younger women looking to enter the industry.

TA:  What facets of the Tequila/Mezcal Industries would you like to see change?

 KB:  I believe the tequila industry is traveling on a wonderful and excitingKB_SDVMezcal path.  We need to stick to this route by continuing to elevate the category.

We have to educate the consumer on the nuances of tequila and teach both the trade and consumers about everything from terroir to developing a cocktail that allows the base spirit to shine.

We need to emphasize the importance of sustainability and build on our current practices to make the production of tequila even more environmentally friendly.

But, most importantly, even with its recent evolution and renewed popularity, we cannot forget about the traditions that brought tequila to this point—we need to hold onto this history even as we innovate and lead the consumer into the future.

TA:  Do you approve of how Tequila/Mezcal brands are currently marketing themselves?

KB:  The internet and social media has enabled the consumer to be more knowledgeable about his or her drink than ever before.

User comments

In a way, it has leveled the playing field between the large multi-national brands and smaller independently-owned brands.

These small brands can now reach the same audience as the giants—they are no longer priced out by expensive advertising.

With this power, comes the temptation to take the easy route and market using slogans, gimmicks or other cheap tricks.

Craft brands have never had to rely on these methods, so it is important for these producers to keep their message simple and focus on their time-honored traditions and passions.

In the long run, it will cultivate brand trust and loyalty, which are crucial for the health of any product.

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

KB:  Believe in yourself.

You will without a doubt make mistakes when you start out (everyone does!), but those mistakes will build the groundwork for your expertise in this field.

Seek out a mentor that can steer you in the right direction when you feel lost, and remember–

Never, never, never give up!

KB_Purple

Congratulations to the 2015 Sip Award Winners

NEWPORT BEACH, California, June 30TH 2015 – Eighty seven consumer spirit enthusiasts gathered at the waterfront Balboa Bay Resort on May 31, 2015 to participate in the 7th annual consumer based spirits competition. The 2015 SIP Awards comprised of 423 brands from all over the globe competing for rank at the impartial mercy of consumer based blind-tasting.

route 66, sip awardThe 2015 SIP Awards was a battle among the elite in each of the world’s most popular Spirit categories. Each chilled, undiluted sample was presented to Judges in NEAT glasses, scientifically engineered to deliver an enhanced consistent tasting experience.

Tequilas, Gins, Rums, Whiskeys, Cognacs, Vodkas and Liqueurs were some of the participating spirits this year, each graded on Aroma, Taste, and Finish.

sip award

The 2015 top rated brands included these agave spirits:

Platinum – “Best of Class”

El Jimador Blanco
DECADA Tequila
El Tesoro Reposado
El Mayor Anejo
Zignum Mezcal Anejo

Platinum Winners

Malinalli Tequila, sip award

Route 66 Tequila
El Mayor Reposado
Tarantula 100 Reposado
Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila
Herradura Anejo
Agave 99 Anejo
Malinalli Extra Anejo
Zignum Mezcal Reposado
AGA-VIE Esprit D’Agave

Design

DECADA Tequila
Kah Tequila Series
(For a complete list of the categories, winners, and photos from the event, visit: www.sipawards.com)

Staying true to the commitment to provide the most reliable measure of international beverage quality ratings, every year’s Judges are every-day spirit consumers and extensively screened to ensure no affiliation with marketing, wholesalers or distributors tied to the spirits industry.  “People deserve the highest quality spirits at their fingertips. I want to level the playing field by stripping away the hype to provide quality brands a fair platform on which to compete.” Says Paul Hashemi, founder of SIP Awards.

kahAwards include Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Best of Class for each category. The newest award introduced in 2014, is the Consumers’ Choice Award, which honors a brand’s unwavering commitment to their Legacy, Craft and to the ever important Consumer Palate, by placing in the SIP Awards two or more consecutive years.

The SIP Awards has experienced exponential growth within each of its 15 beverage categories. The increasing number of participating brands reflects SIP’s ability to provide spirit makers a valuable, unbiased and exciting opportunity to distinguish themselves in the industry.  It has also shined light on the obvious need in the marketplace for its honest arbitration.

About SIP Awards

Catering to the opinions and palates of the discerning public, the SIP Awards present a unique, spirit judging competition, unaffected by industry bias. This pragmatic and refreshing model of evaluation provides an honest stage for feedback and recognition where top brands showcase their achievements. To learn more about the SIP Awards beverage competition, venue partnerships, or for a complete list of 2015 winners, visit www.SIPAwards.com.

Download the Sip Awards Press Release here sipawards2015pr