Workshops for aspiring women entrepreneurs teach how to use agave bagasse and recycled tequila bottles for artisanal crafts.
Espínola, who is also the director of Fundación Beckmann, says, “The women don’t only learn how to make the products, but how to sell, incorporate their businesses, create business plans, logos and much more.”
Demonstrating their support for Tequila’s ambitious women, many hotels including Hotel Solar de las Animas and Hotel Villa Tequila proudly display agave paper notepads and journals in the bedrooms for guests’ use, a commitment to the local products of the region.
“When my 10-year-old daughter needed prescription glasses, I asked her to help me make agave paper so she can earn extra money,” says Sandra Elizabeth Serna Caballero, one of the women currently enrolled in this particular program. “I feel useful, plus the creative process is quite relaxing,” she adds.
One example of how the foundation, largely funded by tequila tourism, has directly impacted women in the area is through Ernestina Carrero Cortez’s story.
Cortez, a Jalisco native who was experiencing financial difficulties, approached the foundation about work opportunities. Cortez’s husband was a construction worker in the US, her son had fallen ill, and she’d resigned herself to cooking food in her home and selling it in the town to help pay for medical expenses. But it wasn’t enough.
And so Cortez, through the foundation, learned to knit handbags and wallets using agave fiber. Her original designs became so popular that she started her own brand label, Puntadas. After seven years with the foundation, Cortez now employs 22 women in her business, some as old as 83, and she sells her products through boutiques, museums and hotels around Tequila.
The women’s handicraft enterprises also make use of tequila bottles that are discarded by bars and restaurants. Used tequila bottles donated by Mundo Cuervo brands are recycled, selected, cleaned and given to the women at the foundation.
Mother of six, Carolina Garcia Torres faced psychological trauma when she was pregnant with triplets and was concerned with the future of her family’s financial health.
“I was worried how my husband, who works in a tequila distillery, would support our family,” says Torres. She was instantly drawn to glass-making workshops offered by the foundation, where she learned to cut recycled tequila and wine glass bottles to create decorative pieces like vases and spoons.”
Every day, there’s an open market in the town plaza where local women sell handmade bags, lotions, paper, jewelry and decorations. Visitors will want to save room in their luggage for gifts and self-care purchases.
Mundo Cuervo’s Beckmann Foundation started 15 years ago with a mission to preserve the cultural heritage of the women of Jalisco. About 10 families participate in the foundation’s culinary program through ongoing festivals, the opportunity to sell homemade products like jams and juices, home-hosted meals and cooking classes.
One such festival is Fogones y Metates (Ovens and Fans). In its second year, it will be held in early December in the town of Tequila.
The event brings together women from different regions of Jalisco to share and preserve old culinary traditions, using native ingredients such as blue corn and criollo beans.
Three generations of women, Amparo Rivera, Evalia Castaneda Rivera and Emma Ramos Castaneda, participated in the festival last year.
Travelers who want to have a gastronomic experience can pay to dine at The Rivera’s home, where dishes incorporate local ingredients from the family’s own ranch, called El Chiquihuitillo.
This home-hosted meal for visitors to Tequila is a popular foundation initiative. At the Rivera home, guests sit in the open-air patio and sip ciruela juice while they watch Evalia and her husband make fresh corn tortillas and warm gorditas de horno (corn and cheese cakes) in a wood-fired oven.
Curated dining experiences like this one are privately arranged through hotel concierge and tour operators familiar with Beckmann Foundation.
The price of such an experience depends on the group size, dishes and more. Evalia said some people just call her to pick up one dish, or a few dishes; others are joined by friends around a table at the Rivera’s house.
The food is very different from what you would find at restaurants. “This is how my family eats every day. It is simple for us, yet visitors find it exotic!” Evalia says.
A visit to Tequila not only involves insight into the history of the popular beverage and a greater appreciation for it, but also an opportunity to learn about the Jalisco region — its culture, traditions and people.
Almost all of of the world’s tequila comes from Jalisco, and in Tequila, the women ensure that the tequila way of life continues.