As you can see, Clase Azul tequilas come in some of the most distinctive bottles out there, made in the mountainous Mexican town of Santa Maria Canchesda, population 1,750. There, the 180 or so employees, 80% of whom are women who grew up in poverty and with little, if any, formal schooling, decorate each bottle by hand. The entire production process takes about two weeks. And the cap isn’t chrome-plated plastic. Oh no. It is metal, that drinkers will often strike to produce a little ring after the pour. “You may have heard people talk about ‘ringing the bell’ on their Clase Azul bottle, which was actually discovered quite by accident” mentions Brand Experience Specialist Saskia Iha. “In order to use a more sustainable material, we redesigned the cap which happened to make a ringing sound when tapped just the right way. We now consider this sound the ‘unleashing’ of the magic inside the bottle.” Okay.
In addition to wages, the company compensates the artisans with two meals a day, transportation, daycare, and school tuition. The work they’ve provided has revitalized the local economy.
In recent years, Clase Azul boutiques have opened to sell pottery as well as lamps, mirrors, and other products made from its ceramic decanters, all to “share the historical, cultural, and luxurious aspects of Mexico with the world.” In addition, Clase Azul launched Fundación con Causa Azul, a non-profit organization that protects and promotes Mexican folk art. The foundation collaborates with artisan communities throughout Mexico and works to preserve traditional craft techniques like pottery and basalt stone carving.
Arturo Lomeli, who grew up in Guadalajara in the Mexican state of Jalisco, got into the liquor-making business in 1997 when he was 24. He and a friend named Hugo Luna Vazquez created a pomegranate punch they branded La Pinta. The next year they came out with a tequila called El Teporocho. Both promptly failed.
At loose ends, Lomeli went back to school in 1999 to study marketing. While there, he decided that the issue hadn’t been with the quality of his tequila, but rather with how it had been packaged and marketed. Vazquez disagreed, so Lomeli bought him out of the company and continued on his own.