Here at LIVELY, we’re constantly surrounded by swoon-worthy women that are killin’ it in their businesses. We're launching #WomenCrushWednesday to celebrate the boss babes who provide us with a constant flow of inspiration, support, and endless girl-crushes.
Up next: Jordan Salcito, the founder of RAMONA, the craveable, ruby-grapefruit wine spritz that doesn't need a glass, a bottle opener, or an occasion to drink it.
Where are you from? What was it like growing up?
I was born in Denver but grew up in Genesee, a small mountain community in the foothills of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
How did you get the idea to start RAMONA, and how did you make it happen?
RAMONA emerged from what I perceived as a noticeable void in the market. At the time, I oversaw the beverage programs for David Chang's Momofuku restaurants and had developed a decent sense of what existed in the wine and cocktail space and what didn't. Every time I went to a concert, ballgame, the beach, etc.—any traditional 'beer' moment—I opted for water because I've never been someone who enjoys a cold, refreshing beer in the romantic, traditional sense.
That observation, combined with the fact that my go-to beverage before (and often after) a meals was a spritz, led me to realize that no delicious, portable, organic, wine-based, low-alcohol, all-natural, drink existed in the market. I felt well-positioned to make one and looked to wine coolers, a spritz-like sub-category that existed in the late 1980's, for inspiration. After some research, I saw an opportunity to breathe new life back into the category and raise the bar simultaneously.
I started RAMONA on my maternity leave from Momofuku in 2016.
What is your process when approaching your creative work?
Creativity requires organization. As a team, we structure time for creativity into our team meetings. I also find I’m at my most creative while meditating, on a run, or engaged in some type of exercise.
What’s the best advice you’ve received from a mentor?
— What you put into something is what you get out (and a variant: ‘How you do something is how you do everything’)
— Be capital efficient
What does the most intense part of your day look like?
Leaving home in the morning! No matter how organized or how much preparation, getting out the door with a toddler at home is an unpredictable process.
When do you feel most empowered?
I feel most empowered after connecting—or connecting with—others who inspire me. Sometimes that’s my team at RAMONA. Sometimes it’s after a coffee with one of our investors. Sometimes it’s after organizing a dinner for friends who may not know each other well. I certainly feel empowered after a great run or an incredible workout, but what separates us as humans from every other species on earth is our ability to connect with others, and for me nothing is more empowering that.
What advice would you give on finding healthy work-life balance?
Choose a job or career that invigorates you and that you enjoy. If you’re just getting into the workforce and don’t have that option yet, choose a job that will help you gain a network and skill set that will lead to a job you love. Also, if you're just starting your career path, don't worry so much about balance! Work as hard as you can now (ideally in a field you love), so that you have more opportunities and therefore flexibility down the road. For a powerful example, look at Beyoncé.
What’s the biggest myth of starting your own business?
It’s hard to speak to this, as I imagine everyone’s business and process are so different. Perhaps the biggest myth is that all you need is a great idea. The idea is important but nothing compares to your ability to execute that idea, and once your idea has some traction, nothing is more important than building the right team.
When was a time you failed, and how did you overcome it?
Failure is part of any great creative process. If you’re not taking risks, you’re not growing. I try to fail fast: try something, see if it works, and if not, pivot quickly. I also embrace that failure is part of mastery. As a result, failure does not scare me anymore.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be like you?
My mom impressed the Wayne Gretzky mantra—100% of the shots you don't take don't go in—into our psyches at an early age. If she knew my sisters or I were passionate about something, she found every way she could to encourage us to pursue it. I scored my first freelance writing job after she encouraged me to type up a writing sample and deliver copies in hand-addressed envelopes to editors at various publications in Denver, CO. That habit translated into a skill-set by priming us to identify our dreams and goals and then to go after them. This approach to life has been incredibly empowering. Of course, there are always circumstances outside of our control, but having a mindset of focus and persistence has been invaluable as a founder of a company. My main job is to constantly problem-solve, pivot when something isn't working, and persevere through any hiccups.
Describe your personal aesthetic.
Feminine. After years of having to wear ill-fitting androgynous suits on dining room floors at fine-dining restaurants, I’ve found that embracing a feminine aesthetic is extremely empowering for me.
How would you describe a life well lived?
A life well-lived is a life in which one has the freedom of self-expression and the freedom to pursue whatever one desires.
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