Women In The Tequila Industry: Melly Barajas

SinoMellyWhen Judy Rivera sought to make her own brand of tequila, she was determined to find a master distiller whose views and outlook were similar to hers.  It wasn’t long before she found Carmen Lucia Barajas Cárdenas–“Melly” to her friends–and Sino Tequila was born.

Melly Barajas always intended to be a Tequila Boss Lady.  After years of apprenticeship in the male dominated Tequila Industry, she purchased land in the highlands of Jalisco called Valle de Guadalupe and constructed her own distillery, Vinos y Licores Azteca (NOM 1533).

She resolved to hire only women from the rural area and to teach them all she knew, from operating fermentation tanks to bottling and more.  She also established a learning center and living quarters at the distillery for her all female staff.

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Melly has become a force to be reckoned with, tackling the Tequila Industry on her own terms.  Here’s what she had to say in response to our customary questions.

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

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

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

MB:  Fascinating!

It’s a world filled with constant challenges, where you have to work a lot and assert yourself.  Where you have to demonstrate that your sex doesn’t matter, Sino_pinas 2and instead, do things right and always move forward to improve yourself every day.

It’s a place where you find many helpful circumstances and others that are difficult obstacles that force you to struggle each day and to not give up.

It’s work that changes your life.  There’s always new things, new people, new experiences, new challenges.  The key is to wake up each day ready to relish whatever comes up.

(Facinante!

Es un mundo lleno de retos constantes, donde tienes que trabajar mucho y hacerte valer, donde debes demostrar que el sexo no importa sino hacer las cosas bien y siempre estar en movimiento y superarte tratando de ser cada dia mejor.

Es un espacio donde encuentras muchas manos amigas y otras manos duras que te retan y así te obligan a estar luchando cada dia  y no darte por vencida.

Es un trabajo que conviertes en tu vida. Siempre hay cosas nuevas, gente nueva, experiencias nuevas, retos nuevos, la clave es levantarte todos los días lista para disfrutar lo que venga)

TA:  How have you been able to change things within the Tequila Industry?

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

SinoSMB:   Hmmm.  Realistically, I’m not sure I’ve changed anything in the industry.

What I can say is that we’ve changed the lives of many women in the town where the distillery is located in Valle de Guadalupe, Jalisco.

Well, in the factory, besides teaching them how to make very good tequila, we’ve taught them that because we’re women, we are limited by NOTHING.

On the contrary!

In the factory, we do all types of jobs that perhaps have been labeled men’s work because it requires more physical strength than what we ladies have, but, by our astuteness that defines us, we develop skills and invent things to do our jobs equally as well as gentlemen.

Besides, when they demonstrate [to themselves] that they can do things that they’ve never even dreamed of, and that they can do so wondrously, they take that lesson into their daily lives and it changes their manner of thinking and they begin to forget their physical restrictions because women’s limitations exist only in their minds.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but the difficulty makes all the difference and the fun.

(Mmmm, realmente no se si he cambiado algo de la industria.

Lo que si te puedo decir que hemos cambiado la vida de muchas mujeres en el pueblo donde esta la tequilera en Valle de Guadalupe Jalisco.

SinoCrusher 2

Pues en la fabrica ademas de enseñarles hacer muy buen tequila, se les ha enseñado de no por “ser mujeres” estamos limitadas a NADA,

Al contrario !!!

En la fabrica se hacen todo tipo de trabajo, que tal vez se etiquetan como trabajo de hombres por que requieren de mas fuerza que las que tenemos las damas, pero con la astucia que nos distingue hacemos mañas e inventamos cosas para hacerlas igual de bien que los caballeros.

Ademas cuando les demuestras que pueden hacer cosas que ni en sueños pensaron que pudieran hacer, y lo pueden hacer de maravilla, este aprendizaje lo llevan a su vida diaria y cambia su modo de pensar y empiezan a olvidar sus ” disque limitaciones ” por que las limitaciones de las mujeres solo están en su cabeza.

No digo que sea fácil, pero lo difícil hace la diferencia y lo divertido.)

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?)

MB:  The future of women in Tequila has arrived!

Our tequilas say it all:  The feminine touch on tequila is its magic, its heart, and its soul.

In tequilas made by women, or with women’s help, a little piece of their hearts travels to all parts of the world.

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Since every day more women are working, it is this medium that has begun to be an important source of employment in the tequila [making/growing] regions.

(El futuro de las mujeres en el Tequila ha llegado!!!

Nuestros tequilas lo dicen todo, el toque femenino en el tequila es la magia, es el corazon, es su alma.

En los tequilas que hacen las mujeres, o con ayuda de mujeres se va un pedacito de su corazon a todas partes del mundo.

Ya que cada dia mas mujeres trabajan es este medio que ha empezado hacer una fuente de trabajo importante en las zonas tequileras.)

TA:  What facets of the Tequila Industry would you like to see change?elcondeazul-blanco_6237_r2

(Qué cosas gustaría cambiado?)

MB:  Everything has its time and takes its course.

I believe that doing things right and demonstrating to the world the value of women in our beverage [tequila] industry is on a sure path.

(Todo lleva su tiempo y su curso.

Creo que el hacer las cosas bien y demostrarle al mundo el valor de las mujeres en nuestra bebida va por buen camino.)

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

(Esta Ud de acuerdo con la comercialización de marcas de tequilas, hoy en dia?)

MB:  That’s an interesting question.

I’d like all tequila to be [made of] 100% Agave Azul Tequilana Weber so that it could only be from the juice of this miraculous plant with all its properties.

There is a reason that the ancient Aztecs made offerings of this elixir to the gods and it was only imbibed by priests.

(Es interesante tu pregunta.

Yo quisiera que todo el tequila fuera solo 100% de Agave Azul Tequilana Weber, para que fuera solo jugo de esta planta maravillosa con todas sus propiedades.

No por nada los Aztecas ofrecían este elixir a los Dioses y solo era bebido en la antigüedad por los sacerdotes.)

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?)

ToroAzulMellyMB:  Of course.

I’d like to tell them that to sell tequila isn’t just selling a beverage, it’s giving the client an opportunity to get acquainted with this delicious and ancient beverage that was offered to the gods.  It’s giving them the chance to savor a beautiful history, a lovely dream, a small piece of Mexico.

To remember that inside every bottle go the thrills, the efforts and the hopes of a town that is proudly Mexican.

The sky’s the limit.

Salúd!

(Claro.

Yo quisiera decirles que el vender tequila no solo es vender una bebida, es darle al cliente la oportunidad de conocer la deliciosa bebida milenaria que era ofrecida a los Dioses, darles la experiencia de paladear una bella historia, un bello sueño, un pedacito de Mexico.

Que recuerden que en cada botella va la ilusión, el esfuerzo y la esperanza de todo un pueblo orgullosos de ser Mexicanos.

Que su limite sea el cielo.

Salúd!)

Women In The Tequila Industry: Lisa Elovich

FullSizeRender_LisaELisa Elovich is a relative newcomer to the tequila business.

Accompanied by a small army of family, staunch supporters and fans, and guided by some savvy tequila industry veterans, Her One With Life (OWL) organic tequila is gaining a firm foothold in her native New York state.

She is also no stranger to working–and thriving–in male dominated industries.

This mother of two has been a Parole Commissioner since 2007.  She served as an Administrative Law Judge for the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, and was a Deputy Attorney General for the New York State Attorney General’s Office with a focus on juvenile justice and crime prevention programs.

If that wasn’t enough, Elovich was also at one time the state’s only licensed female professional boxing promoter!

Throughout her life experiences, Lisa has learned to remain present in the moment and the importance of balance.  Using her tequila brand as a vehicle, she imparts these lessons to all who enjoy One With Life.

Besides personally hand-selecting and test-tasting every batch in Mexico, each bottle is printed with a spiritual toast on the label and a special hidden quote inside.

Tequila Aficionado Media asked Ms. Elovich a handful of questions that, in the past, have been answered by our illustrious gallery of Women In The Tequila Industry.

Here’s what she had to say….

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

LE:  I have never felt like being a woman in a male dominated industry is a negative factor.  I was the only licensed female boxing promoter in New York State for awhile and I found that for the most part, people really only care about the results you produce, quality of the product and one’s character.

The same holds true for being a woman in the tequila industry. 

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

LE:  I am new to the industry but I think that I can help with dissolving egos and collaborating rather than always competing.

I believe that when you help others try to succeed you are more likely to succeed yourself.

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

LE:  Women can bring a softer and more feminine perspective to the tequila world.

owl

One With Life Tequila’s niche is the health conscious female who enjoys organic products and the mild smooth taste of an ultra premium tequila

Now that high end tequilas are growing at a rapid pace, I think there will be more women entering the industry.

TA:  What things would you like to see changed?

LE:  I would like to see the smaller companies get more attention.OWL_labels

It should not only be about who can spend the most money but about quality of a product and its unique contribution to the tequila market.

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?

LE:  I would recommend speaking with others that are already in the industry.  I was lucky enough to get advice from people who have founded tequila brands.  It is important to listen to people who have already been through the fire and come out the other side.  It is extremely labor intensive, time consuming and takes a lot of persistence.

For me it has been mostly trial by fire and sometimes I run into road blocks.  The key is to just stay focused and positive.  Work hard and have faith.  I encourage others to follow their passion and to not give up even when things get difficult.

It takes time and patience to build a brand.  Build it slowly and don’t get in over your head.

The most important thing is to enjoy the ride!  Tequila, like life, is supposed to be light hearted and fun!