Elenita: Freedom from the Known
We often hear people say “so, why did you move to LA?” Jordan Dil, from Calgary, Canada decided he needed a change in the industry as well as scenery. Prior to this move, Jordan used to work in the field of engineering for oil and gas but decided that he wanted to pursue an MBA at UCLA. While he was in school, an opportunity presented itself in the form of a thesis project. The goal of this project was to start a business and from there, he met his partner, and they embarked on their journey of entrepreneurship.
Jordan and Mikel both had a passion for products and services that were out of the ordinary. While thinking of ideas for their thesis, they landed on Mexico City. Mikel is from there while Jordan used to visit frequently. Mexico City is known for its Mezcal, a spirit that has consistently gained excitement. While doing some more digging, they discovered that it was the fastest-growing spirit in the country and was featured on almost every cocktail menu in restaurants and bars, but when talking to people, little to none could actually name a brand of Mezcal. With high excitement but low brand affinity, Jordan and his partner decided to start a Mezcal brand that is US-focused for the US consumer.
But, it wasn’t as easy as they thought. They soon realized that Mezcal was actually a very saturated market and the opportunity wasn’t as great. 90% of the Mezcal was in restaurants and bars, but barely anyone actually buys it while shopping in either a grocery store or liquor store. This can be attributed to the fact that it’s expensive, people don’t really know how to approach it, what to make it with, or how to use it.
It was time to differentiate themselves against hundreds of Mezcal brands. They had noticed that canned cocktails had rapidly gained momentum in the US but there was not an existing Mezcal canned cocktail yet in the US. The business soon shifted from bottled Mezcal to a Mezcal canned cocktail.
But why not stick with our White Claws? Jordan and his partner wanted to steer away from the fermented sugar cane and chemically produced canned cocktails that were sold in high quantities. They use high quality, artisanal mezcal. The agave you find in their Mezcal is 100% agave that is roasted in underground pits and naturally distilled. Mezcal is a really clean spirit that is authentic and deep.
Jordan and his partner then decided to rent a car, drive through the vast fields of Oaxaca to meet various distillers and Mezcal producers. They landed on one particular producer, showed them their vision, and decided that this was the perfect producer for regulatory relationships. They signed the papers, experimented with 20+ recipes, held focus groups, created surveys, and both decided that Elenita would be their full-time job. The final decision came down to the flavors they wanted to highlight: Cucumber Lime Basil, which they would describe as the perfect choice for someone looking for something refreshing with a hint of smoke, and Pineapple Jalapeño for someone looking for something not too sweet but perfectly spicy.
The men kicked it into gear: they raised money over the summer, began supply chain and production in the fall and then launched their product in December. Jordan and his partner’s main goal was to have an authentic cocktail for an audience seeking authentic substance. They wanted to encourage consumers in their market to choose a path that is a little less predictable.
This path stems from a certain Business School memory. On their first business trip to Mexico, they met with people in the Mezcal industry to learn the basics and foundations of Mezcal. Little does everyone know, Mezcal is a stimulant rather than a depressant. This stimulant comes from a rich and celebratory culture that creates an effortless vibe that you don’t hear about here in the US.
Elena, one of the UCLA Business School Co-Founders was on this trip with them. A proper, reserved, and well-behaved straight shooter went out with Jordan and his partner and only drank Mezcal, which led to a euphoric buzz unlike any other. Her true spirit was unearthed that night, a side they had never seen before, and it was truly unforgettable. She became the mezcal muse and the brand inspiration for Elenita.
The Elenita brand represents curiosity and freedom from the known. There is an unnerving feeling inside all of us. We should want to seek more depth and complexity from what a canned cocktail will give to us. By serving these delicious Mezcal cocktails, they believe that we will fully embrace the idea of opening up to alluring experiences. Jordan says that they believe “Elenita isn’t just a name, it's a spirit” and we are excited to see how they take off.
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Elenita Website HERE