Inspirational Women in the Spirits Industry – Part 2

Mar 23, 2022

For International Women’s Month, I have highlighted women in the spirits industry who have helped guide me on my journey. 

These women not only bring a female perspective to the male-dominated spirits industry, but they also have innovated the industry. 

There are so many amazing women in the spirits world that I find inspirational, but the two featured in Part 1 and the two featured in this blog have truly set the bar for me.

Inspirational Women in Spirits – Part 2

Carin Luna-Ostaseski of Sia Scotch

I had the pleasure of meeting with Carin Luna-Ostaseki from Sia Scotch on Zoom on several occasions. Carin’s enthusiasm and energy are contagious. Carin is a wealth of information, and I am so thankful she is open to sharing with me as I grow Inspiro Tequila. Here are some of my learnings from Carin:

First, set up organizational systems.

I usually consider myself a pretty organized person, but I pale compared to Carin. She has spreadsheets for everything.  

I found it useful to see how to set up a pricing model and how to track buyers and outreach. It was inspiring to see how Carin was managing so much on her own. It gave me the confidence to believe I could do it also if I was efficient and organized.  

One spreadsheet Carin showed me had lists of diversity buyers for retailers. These are buyers who want to bring in minority-owned and women-owned brands. This made me realize how important my women-owned certification by WBENC was.

In addition, she shared a template for calculating Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) on a per bottle basis, and this helped me make sure I had all the input items I needed.

Carin even had a spreadsheet of her favorite podcasts she shared with me. I am such a huge podcast listener, so I still go back and refer to her list.

Second, go deep in one location at a time.

Carin’s message to go an inch wide and a mile deep in my own backyard first really resonated. I want to follow in Carin’s footsteps and be thoughtful about each market Inspiro Tequila enters. I appreciate that she stressed you need support on the ground in each market. I always think back to this advice when assessing where we want Inspiro Tequila to scale to.

She also helped me think about the inventory requirements for each state, and she candidly gave me benchmarks for first-year case sales by state and ideal margins. This information would otherwise be impossible for a new brand to find.

Third, connect with other women in spirits, and it’s never too early to give back.

Carin is someone that does not just talk about supporting other women. She embodies this mission.  

She helps mentor people like me who reach out in a cold message and shares resources with other women in the spirits industry. I just joined the Women’s Cocktail Collective Slack channel and saw firsthand how Carin shares opportunities with other women in the group whenever they come her way. I hope someday I can be as good of a resource for another woman getting started in the spirits industry.

In addition, Carin gives back to the greater community. She sponsors grants to help other female founders and provides mentorship. She introduced me to the Enthuse Foundation. I’m such a fan of the organization that Inspiro Tequila sponsored a professional development grant with them. She also gave me lists of other organizations I could help support.

I am grateful for the type of example Carin has set for women in the spirits industry.

Allison Evanow of Square One Organic Spirits

Throughout my journey for the last two years, there is one name that kept coming up as the woman who was at the forefront of the spirits industry: Allison Evanow, founder of Square One Organic Spirits.  

I watched Allison on webinars, and I emulated her branding and messaging for Inspiro Tequila.  I was just waiting to get connected to her.  I finally had the pleasure of speaking with Allison this past February.  

She knows everything about the spirits industry.  I would love to download all the knowledge in her head to educate myself.  I look forward to learning much more from Allison, but these are some of my initial takeaways from the godmother of the spirits industry:

First, this is a tough, competitive industry, so be strategic. 

Allison shared a tactic they had in the beginning: to start with smaller distributors. The three-tier distribution system in alcohol requires that a brand sell to a distributor who sells to retailers, bars, and restaurants. I appreciate her warnings to a small brand like Inspiro Tequila about finding the right partners who will help you grow.  

I needed to hear how hard it is to get people to focus on you when there are behemoth spirit brands out there who have much more money to spend. She made me really reflect on who we partner with. We want to make sure they are partners who believe in Inspiro Tequila and our story.

I understand that the tequila category is crowded, and Allison made me even more cognizant of how necessary it is to explain how we are unique and the story behind Inspiro Tequila. Allison has a unique organic vodka offering, and her messaging and gorgeous bottles hit that home.  

Allison also made me contemplate how to build a team in different markets without bringing on too many full-time employees. I will definitely consider using sales brokers in certain geographic locations. She stressed to me the importance of spending money wisely, which as a new bootstrapped venture is essential for me. 

Second, keep innovating always.

I love that even after being in the industry for so many years, Allison has a startup mentality. She is constantly innovating.  

She has added brand extensions with Square One Organic Spirits ready-to-drink cocktails and non-alcoholic mixers. This is a great example of how it is essential to always be ideating. I will take this lesson to heart and try to never become complacent.  

Third, women supporting women is essential.

Allison actively works with other women in the industry to support each other. She has been part of programming with other female founders in spirits to give back to charities.  

I think it’s fantastic that she collaborates with other female-founded spirit brands. I’m a true believer in supporting other women and lifting each other, that is why I started The Inspiro Purple Bicycle Project.  

I hope Inspiro Tequila can collaborate with Square One Organic Spirits sometime soon.

Thank you to the inspirational women in every industry that support other women.

Even as a solo entrepreneur, it is impossible to do it all on my own. I am very fortunate to have women that started before me and launched their own companies provide me with concrete and valuable advice. It is so important to be open to learning from other people, so I seek and appreciate feedback.  

As I’ve said before, I’m a “learn-it-all.” If these women are generously willing to educate me, I am open to listening, learning, and implementing. As a founder, I think it is important to be open to feedback and new ideas. I am happy to take it all in.  

Cheers to all the ladies shaking up the spirits industry!