Educator and dressmaker, she left her jobs to fulfill her father's dream of having their own handmade tequila.
It is not easy to start a business from scratch, without almost knowledge. Less when it is a business already so crowded by different factories. Despite this, Melly Barajas Cárdenas entered the business of tequila and now is the owner of an important distillery. Guadalajara native has spent more than twenty years developing tequila. Her status as a woman is also an exception in a male-dominated industry.
This woman, a pioneer in some way in this industry, started almost by accident in this business. She barely knew anything about the business and this adventure began as a wish of her father. She had two jobs, as an educator and as a fashion designer, that she had to leave to be able to devote 100% to tequila distillate. Two decades later she is known as the 'queen of tequila'.
"Everything was born out of a desire of my father, and without wanting it, he gave me a gift of life," affirms BBC Melly Barajas. "One day, my father read in a magazine that in Europe they had granted Mexico the designation of origin for tequila. He traveled to Europe whenever he could and said he would like to have a tequila with his name. affirms Barajas, happy that the desire of her father had resulted in her new way of life.
Although the story has had a happy ending, the beginnings were not easy. "I had to register a trademark, sign a co-responsibility agreement, a kind of agreement between workers' associations, follow certain rules, regulations ... Also, since there is already a designation of origin, everything had to be followed to the letter", she counts.
Her company, Vinos y Licores Azteca, is formed entirely by women, something that was also accidental. "When we put the job advertisements, only women came who wanted to work in our company, many men migrate to the United States in search of better opportunities, so the vast majority of the population that stays is female," says Barajas. "At first, I did not know if we could do some tequila processes, which are very hard on the physical, but it was possible," she says proudly.
This feminine 'intrusion' into such a masculine business earned her some criticism at first. "There were criticisms because I was very young, I did not know anything about the business, and I was told that in two or three years it would have to close." But there were also other tequila producers from large companies who caught my attention and helped me during my beginnings. They gave advice and said, "I think you're doing this wrong" or advised me where to buy the barrels. There are all kinds of men. "
The business of Barajas has managed to consolidate, producing notable benefits. Affirms that its great success has been the export. "If we wanted to stand out we had to do our best, it's a sector like many producers, there are too many in Mexico, so most of our tequila is exported, we start with 300 liters a day and now we make 3,000 a day."
Despite not having anything to do with her previous work, she considers it an exciting world full of obstacles to solve on a day-to-day basis. "I like creating a lot and challenges, and in the tequila sector there are many, you start to observe how you can play with nature and make special tequilas with different nuances, it caught my attention and without realizing it I was already fully involved in this ", concludes Baraja. A desire, that of her father, that became her successful business.