We had the good fortune of connecting with Francesca Marciano and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Francesca, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
When I first started Curate Spirits, I knew I wanted to create something that didn’t quite exist on the market yet. Tea infused spirits is a niche–you typically have hard tea, a liqueur, or if it is a tea spirit, it’s heavily sweetened. I wanted to create something natural, preservative, sugar, and dye-free, with organic ingredients that would appeal to everyone. Tea doesn’t need a whole lot to taste great. I had the idea and the love for the product, but I wanted to ensure that I had the experience to back it. This part took a long time. Over the span of five years, I took on various jobs to learn more about both sides of my product: the tea and the spirits. I worked for a few tea houses, tea and spice shops, and read any book I could get my hands on. I attended as many lectures and expos that I could get tickets to and, eight years later, I feel confident in the tea knowledge I have procured. My family comes from a wine and spirits background, but I found it important to delve into the wine and spirits world myself so I got a job as the Events Director for a wine and spirits magazine. My main goal was to immerse myself and absorb as much information as I possibly could until I felt ready to take on my own brand. I also have a degree in design and during those five years took on numerous jobs as art director for commercials and photo shoots for beauty, fashion and lifestyle brands. This experience helped me to develop the overall look for my brand, my bottle design, and helped to shape our advertising and social media. For me, attaining the knowledge and experience was the first step I knew I needed to take to get into the business. I already had the passion, but I wanted to make sure that I understood what it would take to make a great brand and that I had all the proper tools to set me up for success. Once I felt ready to put my sole focus into my company, I quit all my jobs and pulled the trigger. We went straight into product development, while we simultaneously designed the bottle, label and lookbook for the company. Within four short months, the product was ready to be sold on shelves and entered into competitions.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Curate Spirits is a tea infused craft spirits company. We infuse organic tea blends with premium spirits to create a sugar-free, preservative-free and dye-free product for all to enjoy. Curate Spirits promotes the ideas of community and travel as we take teas from all over the world and infuse them with our spirits to be sipped together. We are a family-owned brand and take pride that all our ingredients, products and packaging are sourced locally so that we have full control over what we are putting out. We are currently only selling in California, which has been fantastic since I am able to personally meet each one of our customers face-to-face and form genuine connections with those who carry our product. As any business, we have had our challenges. From permitting to COVID, we have definitely struggled with getting our product out there. We were initially set to launch in Spring 2019, but then ran into some permitting issues that had to be resolved before continuing. We were fully ready in December 2019, but felt it would be better to wait until the holidays were over. Come February 2020, we gathered our team and set out to make our sales. We had a good run for being a new brand–until COVID hit. Then everything had to be put on pause and, truthfully, we are still recovering. We luckily have still been able to enter into competitions and have made some sales. This has given us hope that we as a brand–and the spirits industry as a whole–are strong enough to recover and even prevail from this.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
pre-COVID: To Visit: Getty Villa The last Bookstore Arts District (murals) Museum of Jurassic Technology Natural History Museum Watts Towers Griffith Observatory Greystone Mansion Huntington Garden Shoseian Teahouse To Drink: Steep LA Chado Tea Room Blue Bottle Coffee Melrose Umbrella Co Broken Shaker Zinc Mama Shelter Apotheke LA To Eat: Black Market Liquor Terra at Eataly Little Katsuya Gangadin Indian Grand Central Market HomeState Perch The Little Door The Henry
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My father and brother, who are not only two of my biggest supporters, but also my business partners. They have put their full trust and faith into this company.