FIRST THOUGHT: Hack Away
I looked on YouTube the other day for how to cut my little agave plant, as one does, and found a tutorial featuring a guy hacking away a huge one. Using what looks like a machete, he whips his way through the six-foot-long leaves. It almost looked like a choreographed dance. As I struggled with my subpar shears and overall weakness, I felt humbled. It dawned on me how little I actually think about the effort that goes into something. The food on our plates, the house we live in, the tequila we sip on, all of it exists because there are people out there busting their booty.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 37 Percent
That badass dude was one of the people responsible for tending and harvesting the agave plants to make tequila. Liquor’s a great example of a product that takes a lot of patience and (wo)man power to achieve. Although women back in the day were greatly responsible for prohibition, we lady folk like a cocktail from time to time. Oh, and when it comes to whiskey? In the 90s, women only accounted for about 15 percent of those who partook in the barrel-aged beverage, whereas now, 37 percent of them do.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Bertha González-Nieves, Co-founder & CEO at Casa Dragones Tequila Company
In addition to getting our drank on, women are awesome at carving out a place for themselves if the boys are afraid of letting them join in. There’s no better example than the booze industry, and the world’s first female Maestra Tequilera Bertha González-Nieves ain’t having any of it.
Bertha’s the co-founder and CEO at Casa Dragones Tequila Company, and let’s just say it’s the kind of tequila you give someone you really, really love. It’s not the tequila you drank in college (you know, those big plastic jugs that made you best friends with the toilet.) Crafted in small batches, Casa Dragones is an experience, something to sip and savor.
Bertha’s journey to tequila all started in her late 20s, when she finished up her master’s program and got a job at the oldest tequila company in Mexico. It was her dream to work in the tequila biz, ever since she learned about it in her early 20s as a Mexican ambassador to Japan.
She walked into that tequila company and you won’t believe what she saw: a bunch of dudes. Bertha jokes that she felt like she might just have to grow facial hair to be accepted in the industry. Instead of continuing to be the oddball in the distillery, Bertha used her aspirational know-how to start her own dynamic company. Bertha’s smart about making connections, seeking out collaborations with some of the most acclaimed food spots in the world.
Casa Dragones has received well-deserved attention, but you might notice how Bertha’s gender seems to play a role. One article mentions the “beauty and brains” behind the company. Something tells me Jose Cuervo Labastida wasn’t defined by his good looks (by the way, he and his mustache were pretty smokin’ hot, but I digress). That doesn’t faze Bertha, who has been called the “First Lady of Tequila” by the Los Angeles Times and, perhaps more fittingly, one of the most powerful women in Mexico by Forbes.
Whether female or male, Bertha says that what matters is passion, a thirst, a desire to make the best possible product and give the best possible experience.
QUITE THE QUOTE
Let’s close with a quote by our very own Woman to Watch, Bertha González Nieves:
"When I look back now, I realize I was always passionate about being an entrepreneur. ... In fact, when I think about where I started, it's that passion for work that has been the consistent factor in my career."