Women in the Industry: Camille Austin of Montelobos Mezcal

1/31/2018

Camille Austin Montelobos Mezcal

 

Camille Austin is a brand ambassador for Montelobos Mezcal, one of the brands leading the current boom in the category. Brand ambassadors are not like the rest of us. They know their brands inside and out, and they have to have a clairvoyant understanding of where the company has been as well as where they want to go. They’re the face of the brand as well as its inward-looking third eye, responsible for making sure every detail of every event is on-message and pushing the brand forward. So when we say “Camille Austin is a brand ambassador for Montelobos Mezcal,” it’s more than a statement of her occupation and place of work.

She talked to us at Tales of the Cocktail this year, a place where ambassadors like Austin come together to wrestle over the soul of the industry, each one grasping for the reins so they can lead the beast onward to success for their brands, their categories. It involves a lot of smiling and events planned out with more detail than most invasions.

“This adrenaline is still running... It's crazy”

“Months of planning,” Austin tells us, talking about her most recent spectacle. “Then at the event it's like this adrenaline is still running... It's crazy.” She takes a breath. “We spend so much time planning these events, and then they're all done in three hours.” “So the whole events planning thing is really close to my skill set. I was a bar manager for a long time. I was a bartender. I did all of the work. I was a server, and I just love the hospitality aspect of it. So the trade events and the distributor events and all of that stuff is one of my favorite parts of the job.”

“I was speaking to a colleague, Jaime, the ambassador from Milagro Tequila, and I'm like, ‘I can't believe we spent so much time planning this. So many conference calls, so much budget and everything.’ But it's so worth it.” She pauses, and a smile creeps into her voice. “It was so much fun, though. Did you have fun?”

Montelobos Mezcal Bottle on a black background

We did. It’s impossible not to have fun at an event if the ambassador has done her job as well as Camille has done hers. We tell her we’re working on the Breakthru marketing team, and that we’re profiling women in the industry, like her.

“Awesome,” she says, and “I love it.” Her positivity isn’t a put-on, or a learned aspect of her professional life. Words like “Fantastic” and “Awesome” fall from her the way “uh” and “um” escape the rest of us.

“Very cool,” she says after we tell her our premise. “I've been on the brand for three and a half years. I actually started on the brand because I used to be a bar manager and a bartender, and I was the go-to person for events with Milagro. I've had a relationship with them for seven years, and very good friends with Jaime and the old ambassador. And I know the founders of Milagro really well, and they are part owners of Montelobos. So the opportunity to start Montelobos came through those relationships. I'm also Mexican American, so it's just a really good fit all around. I've had a blast.”

“He's 100% one of the foremost resources in the mezcal category.”

Even while she’s talking about herself and her own life story, she can’t help but naturally bring it back around to Montelobos. “I absolutely love this brand. We have an amazing team. The founder, Ívan Saldaña, has a Ph.D in agave and he's just … he's incredible. He's got this crazy biology background. He wrote a book, The Anatomy of Mezcal, and he earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry. He worked with the Mexican government to set up a greenhouse in Sussex, England, became completely immersed and really obsessed with these plants, learned a lot about the evolution. He's 100% one of the foremost resources in the mezcal category.”

Ívan Saldaña of Montelobos Mezcal 2

Saldaña was recently in Chicago, meeting with our team, a fact which Austin quickly uses to connect our team again to her brand. “I was there for only two days, but that was an amazing visit. They showed me the whole recap and everything and a lot of the reps were there.”

She continues, “I worked with Ívan as well with the month following. And he is just absolutely amazing to work with. He had this vision to create this niche kind of artisan mezcal and work with a fourth generation Mezcalero. He wanted to combine the heritage of the Mezcaleros and all of the history of what artistan mezcal is with his vision of taking a sustainable approach, taking a balanced approach, being organic. It's definitely an innovative product.”

Hearing her passion, it’s hard not to want to crack open a bottle and taste what she’s talking about. She tells us all about Saldaña’s plan for sustainable agave production, getting deep into the weeds with varietals of agave, the movers and shakers in the category, the terroir and how Montelobos fits into the big picture. Each word she utters pushes the brand further to the forefront of the listener’s mind, inuring anyone in earshot with a curiosity about the brand. From the top of her head to the soles of her shoes, she is a brand ambassador, and for a few minutes we were fortunate enough to see the industry through her eyes.

“It's been a really good ride.”

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