Alec & Ana Tesa of Eleven20 Tequila: Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Launched My Business or Startup
Get comfortable being uncomfortable; Basically you go through difficult periods and you have to be able being uncomfortable; Knowing it’s temporary.
Taking the risk to start a company is a feat few are fully equipped for. Any business owner knows that the first few years in business are anything but glamorous. Building a successful business takes time, lessons learned, and most importantly, enormous growth as a business owner. What works and what doesn’t when one starts a new business? What are the valuable lessons learned from the “University of Adversity”? As part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alec & Ana Tesa, co-founders of Eleven20 Tequila
Alec, born in NY City and raised in metro NJ area, with his father in the design industry had a instant connection with design and creation, currently an award winning residential Architect in the Northeast. His wife Ana, born and raised in Brazil; relocated to the US at age 12, now in the banking industry has risen to achieve multiple successes now currently the Vice President of a large company with over 12 locations. The Tesas successes have bred a perfect tequila profile.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
We were never hard liquor drinkers. Tequila is something we started dabbling into when we first got together. We were mesmerized with the amount of bars being dedicated only to Tequila, along with Tequila being the only upper in alcohol. We were also intrigued with the rich process that goes along with producing a great Tequila. We had tried many, and of course, had our favorites, but none that we actually kept at our house full time. Hence, us wanting to start our own. Additive-Free was also an important factor to us, and a non-negotiable factor.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
Embarking on an industry we knew nothing about and not knowing what it entails was hard enough. Not only that; But trying to produce a product that is internationally imported raised a whole new set of unexpected challenges. Gladly we tackled all of them, one at a time successfully.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Failing is not in our vocabulary and simply not an option. If there’s a will, there’s a way. Our drive is always there with everything we do. Will there be difficult days? Sure. Will there be new challenges or unforeseen things? Sure. But you get up, brush the dust off, and continue on. Additionally, we know there’s a market for a clean Tequila, which also pushes us each and every day to share it with our customers.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Great! We have had and have quite a few events and our Tequila is in the US! Persistency is key and being able to adapt or even change our approach to certain obstacles is what has gotten us here thus far. Knowing we have a great product and seeing people’s reactions when trying our product has been a great part of our success.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
That’s an easy question. We have an additive-free profile, and the soils our agave in is, makes this Tequila simply everything.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
We’re grateful to our advisors and their words of wisdom. We have also met a handful of people who have become our mentors in a way. They have been drawn and came to us organically — That is priceless.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We keep a second-generation master distillery busy with the production of our great Tequila; we have brought people together. We plan on bringing more goodness to the world once our success becomes appreciable.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first launched my business,” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
1 . Get comfortable being uncomfortable; Basically you go through difficult periods and you have to be able being uncomfortable; Knowing it’s temporary.
2 . When you think you’ve got it under control; Think again. You’re constantly going to be juggling things, and for a good portion of them, you will be totally blindsided. It’s easy to just give up. Every situation has a solution, you just have to look for it.
3 . Quit your day job so you can fully and solely focus on your brand. We have not done this, and let me tell you just how much harder it is to develop your brand when you have another full time job. This adds a different set of obstacles, determination, exhaustion and motivation.
4 . It’s just simply not easy to be an entrepreneur. It may look glamourous, fun, and creative. But frankly, it’s quite the opposite of all of that.
5 . Selling Tequila is not easy. It may look like anyone will want to purchase your tequila, represent the brand, and have it at their liquor stores, restaurants, houses etc. Why wouldn’t they? People don’t just ‘jump’ because you have a brand new Tequila. You have to prove the brand and truly show why they should purchase it. Why it’s different from others.
Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?
As founders, you will be on display at all times, with everything you’re doing. Do we feel different emotions? Sure. What keeps us going during the emotional lows, is remembering to ‘get comfortable being uncomfortable’ and truly knowing every emotion is temporary. It will pass. And look for the solutions. If there’s a will, there’s a way.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
A lot of brands out there do not take care of the people who are developing their product. Our movement would be to encourage, teach, and show the value of giving and showing appreciation to those who are working hard for you. We have great passion to our distillery and all the people there. Get to know them!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You may get more information from us at our website: www.eleven20tequila.com and our Socials: Facebook and Instagram @Eleven20Tequila.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
About the Interviewer: Douglas E. Noll, JD, MA was born nearly blind, crippled with club feet, partially deaf, and left-handed. He overcame all of these obstacles to become a successful civil trial lawyer. In 2000, he abandoned his law practice to become a peacemaker. His calling is to serve humanity, and he executes his calling at many levels. He is an award-winning author, teacher, and trainer. He is a highly experienced mediator. Doug’s work carries him from international work to helping people resolve deep interpersonal and ideological conflicts. Doug teaches his innovative de-escalation skill that calms any angry person in 90 seconds or less. With Laurel Kaufer, Doug founded Prison of Peace in 2009. The Prison of Peace project trains life and long terms incarcerated people to be powerful peacemakers and mediators. He has been deeply moved by inmates who have learned and applied deep, empathic listening skills, leadership skills, and problem-solving skills to reduce violence in their prison communities. Their dedication to learning, improving, and serving their communities motivates him to expand the principles of Prison of Peace so that every human wanting to learn the skills of peace may do so. Doug’s awards include California Lawyer Magazine Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers in America Lawyer of the Year, Purpose Prize Fellow, International Academy of Mediators Syd Leezak Award of Excellence, National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals Neutral of the Year. His four books have won a number of awards and commendations. Doug’s podcast, Listen With Leaders, is now accepting guests. Click on this link to learn more and apply.