World, Meet the Pisco Girl!
For as long as I can remember, pisco is associated with celebration. Instead of champagne, my family marked special occasions and life milestones with pisco sours—the spirit’s most popular cocktail from the land where my story began.
Born in Santiago, Chile, my family moved to Bellflower, California when I was three years old. Though I was raised stateside, my Latin American roots and Chilean soul is who I am. My parents ensured we were raised with our Chilean traditions—and my mother’s cooking, accompanied by my father’s pisco cocktails were the center of it all.
Being raised in a traditional Latin household in the USA was truly wonderful. However, it also came with its challenges. I knew at a very young age I wanted to start and own a
business, but when the time came to pick a college major, my father did not approve or
support my entrepreneurial path; so, I settled on a Psychology BA and eventually pursued a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, MPA (which was the closest study
to an MBA without disappointing my father.) Eventually, my desire to become an entrepreneur became un-ignorable, and I knew I had to establish my own business. All I needed was my product. The answer eventually came to me overwhelmingly, and that
answer was pisco.
In 2018, I launched the first American pisco brand in the USA, and became the first female-owned pisco company in the history of Chile. I humbly carry this title with honor, in hopes to inspire other Latina women to chase their entrepreneurial dreams, to turn them into realities.
I dedicate Catan Pisco to reflect the beautiful journey, the inevitable struggles and the
wonderful celebrations of life and love with those who mean the most—and I invite you
to join me with Catan Pisco. Salud!
Q. What were the key driving forces to bring yourself into the AlcoBev industry?
I honestly had no idea this industry is where I would end up. I always say, it chose me. All I knew is that I wanted to own my own business and I needed to do something that hadn't been done before and with a product I was TRULY passionate about. The answer came to me during a car ride on the 4th of July and now, here I am!
Q. How did you come up with the name for your brand?
When I first started dating my husband, this was our hashtag. #Catan My friends call me Cat and my husband's friends call him Dan, and Cat & Dan = CATAN. I always say, Catan Pisco has a love story in every bottle.
Q. What are the secrets to your success?
There are no secrets, just one word: FOCUS. If you truly have a vision, a direction and a goal in sight, all you have to do is focus and the Journey will take you there. As a kid, my Mother told me I always had a checklist for my goals, and would thrive off of this. To this day, I still work off my checklists and now have a vision board that I keep my focus on everyday.
Q. How did you raise funding for your venture?
My first investor was ME. I was once told, if you don't invest in yourself first, why would anyone else? So, I put my condo on the market and invested every penny of that sale into my company. Following that, I reached out to friends and family and was eventually contacted by an Angel investor. We were about 2 weeks away from closing out the deal, and then I walked away. I had no idea raising money for my business could be so personal, but it is. To make a long story short, I had just given birth to my first son and as we reached the end of the investment deal, the interested investor emailed me something I will never forget. He was asking for more equity in my company and said " it was unclear" to him if I could "work full time being a Mom." That was the moment I knew I had to walk away from his capital and walk towards my integrity.
Q. What are your biggest successes and failures?
Just being able to see my vision come to life, is a success in itself. I don't use the word "failure" in my journey, but I definitely have learned a lot of lessons along the way from my own choices and from other makers in the industry.
Q. How did you persevere through the tough times?
I always remember a proverb my uncle taught me. "When a door closes, always look for a window." Doors have been shut, slammed and not even partially opened, but I always hold onto this motto knowing if I see even a crack of light, there is a window in near and this always gives me hope and unwavering perseverance.
Q. What do you want to achieve next?
I want to team up with one of the largest National distributors to scale my brand across the country, and we are currently in the final stages of being reviewed to enter their portfolio. I have been wanting this since I started my business, and I won't give up until they say YES to Catan Pisco!
Q. What are some of the challenges you faced or are facing regarding catalyzing innovation?
The fact that not a lot of US consumers know what "pisco" is, is naturally the greatest challenge and yet the greatest opportunity. This is the reason why I started my business to begin with, but I am learning how habitual we are when it comes to consumerism, and how hard it is for us to break this. The pandemic really slowed down my business (as well as other innovative small brands) since we couldn't offer any in store tastings and for the fact that all events and bars were closed down. Trying to sell a new spirit without allowing for anyone to taste it, is hopefully now behind us.
Q. What are your tips for growing a company?
Keeping the passion alive for your business, just like with any long and successful relationship. Always trying new things, and keeping it interesting and saying YES to ALL new opportunities that come your way. It is a long road and if you don't continue to keep that fire burning, then your passion will burn out and so will your brand. I have a TON of passion for my product and business, and it's always reassuring when speaking to a new CATAN FAN and when they say " I can feel your passion," that reminds me I am doing something right.
Q. What do you have to say to the future aspiring AlcoBev entrepreneurs?
I would have to say, the future in our industry IS FEMALE. Though we have such a long way to go and a tall ladder to climb until we reach gender equality, we are definitely making our way. As for my category, pisco, this will also be a long road ahead as well, but if my fellow pisco makers (both Chilean and Peruvian) work together, and not apart, in bringing this category to the forefront, then we undoubtedly can bring this beautiful and relevant spirit into homes, bars and all restaurants across the USA, which is where we belong.