Founded by Ellie Webb, Caleño is a non-alcoholic spirit distilled with a mix of juniper, citrus and spice botanicals that offer a similar texture and flavor to gin, making it a great alternative to those who don’t care for alcohol but still want to partake in an evening of cocktails with friends.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I’m Ellie, I’m 28 years old and Caleño (a non-alcoholic spirits company) is my very first business venture. When on a dance night out with friends in January (during Dry Jan) two years ago, I became frustrated with the lack of exciting alcohol-free options, and something that mirrored my usual G&T’s. This inspired me to launched Caleño – a tropical free-spirit, bringing lots of colour, energy and vibrancy to not drinking. A trip back to Colombia, gave me all the tropical inspiration I needed to create the drink.
Prior to launching Caleño, I worked in the drinks industry for 4-5 years, for the UK’s largest drinks distributor, Matthew Clark. I was instrumental in revolutionising the format for their experiential drinks tasting events, attracting 5,000 customers annually, and also led the On-Trade marketing campaign for the UK’s largest beer launch for the past 20 years, Bud Light. Prior to Matthew Clark, I worked for a Shopper Marketing agency where I worked with clients such as; Nestlé, GSK, and Estee Lauder, delivering branded and category in-store activations across travel and domestic markets
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Not exactly. I was lucky, because from quite a young age I knew that I loved being creative, but also had a big interest in business, so naturally marketing and building brands fascinated me, so I guess I always followed that path!
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Of course – I’ve faced many times where I’ve been working my arse off/ felt unappreciated, or I’ve felt frustrated because I have ideas and a vision of where I need to be, which I can’t implement those due to business uncertainty, time constraints or budgets.
I went through a time where I knew I wanted to build a brand, and went for jobs where I felt I could make a difference but would be turned down because either I was too young, or I didn’t have enough specific experience, however in 2017 I made the decision to take control of my own destiny and build my own brand.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Every week I achieve something new, and I celebrate each one. The most recent ones have been getting to my first production run, to then landing a massive listing with Sainsbury’s, then there’s personal ones, like making my first team hire…
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
I think the key to success is being determined, patient and having the right motivations and being completely obsessed/focused on what it is you want to achieve and absolutely following through with it. I do agree that the fear of staying still has to be greater than the fear of taking that big step into the unknown.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I have mentored people informally and I find it super rewarding. Personally, I find it extremely useful to meet with people who have more experience than I do and learn from them. There are always people earlier on in their journey than me, so if I can help them, as people have helped me, I will.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
For me one of the biggest barriers is self-belief. For me personally, inspiration and hearing from other people who have followed their goals and gone on to achieve them was the biggest wake-up call I needed, to basically believe I could do it. I think more women talking about their experiences in business and encouraging and inspiring others, will be one the large accelerators for change.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
I would say to my younger self, take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, even if in the short term it may mean your out of pocket, or you think you don’t have the time. It’s easy to say no to things, but you only live once and you should most of it, so my advice would be to say YES to more opportunities.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
My next challenge is very much about scaling and growing a business which is currently only 5 months old. That includes, growing a team, expanding into new markets, and continually learning as I go. I’m super excited about the future, but also realise it won’t be easy and there will be some bumps along the way, but I say “bring it on!”.