“I’m The President Of A Craft Tequila Company”
Jenna Fagnan is the president of Avión Tequila, a crafts spirits company based in New York City and Jesus Maria, Mexico. Hear from Jenna about why she quit her “cushy corporate job”, and why she’s got no regrets.
Jenna Fagnan: Tequila Company President
This is the story of Jenna Fagnan, President of Avión Tequila, and the successful tequila company she started against the advance of her peers.
Prior to Avión, Jenna ran the champagne business for LVMH, which includes the iconic Dom Perignon brand. Her team included dozens of people and Jenna had two assistants of her own.
When she left to launch Avión, it was just Jenna and her partner. They sat in a makeshift office in a closet of their PR agency, selling product door-to-door to restaurants and to liquor stores.
“Every morning, ” she says, “there was something that felt like this is exactly what I should be doing. I’ve never regretted it for a moment.”
A big part of the Avión brand is its people. A dedicated team of twenty work in its New York City headquarters at 49th and 3rd; there’s a team in an office in Florida; and, of course, there are the people of Jesus Maria, Mexico, from where Avión sources its agave.
Avión is deeply ingrained in the city of Jesus Maria and employs many people there. Jenna speaks with them daily, checking in on production, and supply, and making sure that the company’s jimadors get what they need.
When she quit her job at LVMH, people questioned Jenna for leaving a cushy, corporate job. She listened to her gut, though, and has had no regrets whatsoever.
“Everyone told us no. They told us we were crazy. And, we’re so glad we didn’t listen.”
Hear more from Jenna Fagnan, who has one of the coolest jobs in America.
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I’m Jenna Fagnan, President of Avion Tequila, a small-batch Highlands tequila here in New York City and Jesus Maria, Mexico.
So, my day as president of Avion, it runs the gamut and that’s what makes it so fun. I’m checking to see how we’re doing an inventory in the US. I’m talking to the team in Mexico about hour glass inventory; about the tequila inventory; about the Agave growing. But, my favorite thing really is to go out and sell because at the end of the day, it’s about sharing my love for tequila and for Avion.
I was working for LVMH — Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy — a big luxury goods conglomerate and great company. I loved it. I ran their champagne business — Dom Perignon — and then, when with this opportunity presented itself, I decided to quit my day job and everybody told me I was crazy.
They said, “You’re doing what? You’re starting a tequila company? Why would you do that? You’ve got this great, cushy corporate job.”
There was something in my gut that said, “You’ve got to do this.” And if not now when?
What really struck me was it seemed incredibly fun and just almost freeing to start something from scratch.
I’ve worked with these great brands in my life. And, then, here I thought, “Wow! Maybe 40 years from now. This is going to be one of those lifestyle names that people know as well”.
Our Agave is all single-source, estate grown from these wonderful family lands in Jesus Maria. Our agave takes about eight years to grow and then it’s harvested by hand by the 25 family jimadors who cut the agave out of the ground. There’s no way to do it in an automated fashion.
As the brand grows, we’re not going to automate. We are just going to hire more people and support the town more. Obviously, it’s not the inexpensive way to go. But, if you do it in a cheaper method, then you don’t get the end result in that flavor profile, and you don’t get a enjoy the art of it.
It’s really more about taking the best raw material, this agave; and then doing everything in the process that makes that flavor shine.
So I think the first months and even a year when you start something new, you sometimes feel like you’re just trying to keep your head above water.
We ended up in a closet in our PR company’s office because they have an extra closet. So, I moved to chair and a desk in there with all the boxes and it’s where we started.
The funny thing about quitting a large corporate job and going to start a business: when you’re sitting there in a closet, you would think to yourself, “Wow. Did I really mess up?” But the funny thing is I never felt that way.
Every morning, there was something about it that I felt like this is exactly what I should be doing. I’ve never regretted it for a moment.
A lot of people talk about wanting to start a spirits company, but if you really believe, and you know it is going to take hand-to-hand, door-to-door sales, do it.
Everyone told us no. They told us we were crazy. And we’re so glad we didn’t listen.