Seventeen years after Mara Smith left her career as an attorney to raise her family, she’s back full force not only with the valuable skills she learned as a mother, but with the drive to start a successful Tequilla brand in the spirits industry.
Seventeen years after Mara Smith left her career as an attorney to raise her family, she’s back full force not only with the valuable skills she learned as a mother but with the drive to start a successful Tequilla brand in the spirits industry. Got a great idea for our next episode?
Mara Smith is a former attorney, corporate strategist, and stay-at-home mom who is the founder of Inspiro Tequila. She started drinking tequila when she was looking for a clean, gluten-free spirit that fit into her active lifestyle. Mara searched for a tequila brand that was additive-free with a look, taste and aroma that appealed to her. That perfect tequila did not exist, so she decided to create one. Mara’s goal was not just to create a one-of-a-kind tequila, it was also to bring another female voice to the spirits industry. Women are a part of every aspect of Inspiro Tequila’s process from creating the taste profiles to getting bottles on the shelves. As a female founder, Mara’s mission is to inspire and support other women on their entrepreneurial journeys through financial support and mentoring.
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TOPICS DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Mara’s transition from attorney to tequila maker.
- How Mara convinced one of the few female Master Distillers, Ana María Romero Mena, to work with her.
- Bringing female perspectives to a male-dominated industry.
- Why Mara chose to have women involved in every step of the creation process.
- How a ruined batch delayed her start-up time.
- Creating a product for female consumers.
- The obstacles faced by startups and the tough decisions you must make to achieve your vision for your brand.
- Why Mara is bootstrapping her business.
- Mara’s fears around starting a business and a second career later in life.
- Finding the confidence in yourself to pivot.
- Prioritizing your time as a mother and business owner and finding that balance on a day-to-day basis.
- Doing things for YOU as a mother and not feeling bad about it.
- Valuable skills learned during motherhood are not recognized or valued in our society.
- Did Mara experience male opposition in the spirits industry?
- Overcoming imposter syndrome.
- Women tend to over-prepare, especially when they do not feel good enough.
- Mara’s purple bicycle project and her mission behind it.
(3:24) I always knew that I really wanted to start my own company. It was always in the back of my mind. And when I kept thinking about what kind of company, I wanted it to be something that I really enjoyed and I kept thinking about tequila. I became a tequila drinker years ago when I was looking for just a cleaner spirit option. I had been gluten-free for over 10 years. If I drink drinks with a lot of sugar in them, I wouldn’t feel good the next day. So I discovered tequila and good quality tequila and had converted many girlfriends to become tequila drinkers and discovered that so many women were telling me that tequila was their drink of choice, but I did not think that brands really focused on this consumer, and in the spirits world, this thoughtful female consumer who cares about what she eats and drinks and the companies that she supports I felt was an overlook consumer in the industry. I thought there was an opportunity to really innovate and create something customer-centric with a whole new, fresh set of eyes.
(6:00) When I came across Anna Maria, I knew I really wanted her to work on this because she created 600 aromas in tequila and this aroma wheel that now is used as an industry standard. For our consumer, in particular, I thought developing the right aroma was necessart, and she places such importance on the aroma and how the aroma affects the taste profile for the consumer and I really thought that would be important. I have consultants down in Mexico and they were able to track her down. I was able to have an initial zoom meeting with her and a number of zooms after that because this all happened right at the beginning of the pandemic. And I could not go to Mexico, but she was really happy to take on a project. She never worked with a female-founded brand. And she was really able to just bring what I was envisioning to life.
(9:41) So I am bootstrapped and I think there are a number of reasons why I chose to do that initially. Basically, I’d like to show proof of concept first and gain some traction. I feel I’m very fortunate that I’m able to bootstrap my business. Part of that is I’m a more seasoned entrepreneur. I did not enter into this right out of college or law school, my husband and I have both been working for a very, very long time. So that gave me the ability to be able to do it that way which I’m very happy about because I can really see my vision come to life exactly how I imagined it and I don’t have the constraints of having other people dictating that at right now. I’m fortunate, but I think it’s also the best way for me to get it off the ground, and I didn’t want to take my friends and family’s money either before I can show that proof of concept.
(10:57) I really questioned my skills and abilities, and it’s interesting because when I was working as a lawyer and corporate strategist I felt really confident about my abilities, and all of a sudden after I’d been home and I was going to start a company, I kep asking myself “Can I do this?” “Will people take me seriously?” “Do I know enough?” And somehow I didn’t give myself credit for still having the skills that I acquired before I was home. And also recognizing that I developed a lot of new skills that are directly applicable while I was home. I can multitask like nobody’s business. With children, no day ever goes as planned. I mean, my son’s home sick from school today, not on my agenda today, and the same with the new business. You’re always coming out with plan B and plan C. There are skills that I definitely attained at home, and now I’m trying to really appreciate them. I don’t think I value them as much as I should have, and I don’t think society generally values that. And I’m a firm believer that there are so many women out there and there’s a lot of untapped potential and skill.
(14:32) For me, it’s worth it because I needed this for myself. I think getting that kind of outside validation from work, if it was from school or from work, I found really satisfying and really drove me. I was at the point where I just needed something. I’d given a lot and dedicated a lot of my time which I would never take back and I don’t regret it, but it was time that I really needed something for myself. And I think of having a company and having Inspiro Tequila as that.
(18:55) Looking back, I didn’t even realize this until recently, but when I worked at a really large law firm, I didn’t have any role models. So there were no female partners in my entire department. I think I was focused on proving myself and moving ahead.
Be inspired * Live inspired * Drink inspired * “I envisioned something new, a brand that could transform how women thought about tequila.” Learn More Our Tequila METICULOUSLY HANDCRAFTED 100% BLUE AGAVE Inspiro Luna Blanco Rested in Oak Barrels for a Lunar Quarter for Smooth Sippability CONFIRMED ADDITIVE FREE 750 ML | 40% ALC /VOL (80 PROOF) Our Tequila Handcrafting Inspiro Tequila is a meticulous process that is never rushed, always thoughtful.
Through certification, women-owned businesses gain access to a vast network of support, including targeted business opportunities for certified women-owned firms, increased visibility in corporate and government supply chains, education and development programs to spur growth and increase capacity, and networking and mentorship opportunities with thousands of women entrepreneurs and those who support them.
The Inspiro Purple Bicycle Project At Inspiro Tequila, our mission is not only to craft high-quality spirits, we are also proudly committed to supporting female founders who like us were inspired to follow their passion. That’s why we created the Inspiro Purple Bicycle Project. “You are too little.”
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