The Blueprint According To Priscilla Padilla
Words By: Chris Panayiotou
Photos By: Ian Ribail | @ir_shoots
(Priscilla is featured in Issue 23 of COSIGN, The Blueprint Issue which can be purchased here.)
In speaking to Priscilla Padilla, the founder of Tekeen Premium Wine Cocktails, it makes me realize that we could be doing way more, we could all hustle harder. Originally from the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, and now based in both Dallas and Austin, Priscilla has her hands in several ventures, each independent of each other, but at the same time, not. She is able to succeed in a variety of fields, while effectively cross marketing each brand.
The idea for Tekeen originated four years ago “from one of those drunken college nights,” as Priscilla refers to it. She was at Northwestern University with Christian, now her business partner, when he wanted an aguas frescas, a fruit infused water popular in Mexican culture. He made some himself and thought, “This would be really good with alcohol.” “It kind of just went from there,” Priscilla recalls. That night Christian decided that he no longer wanted to be an attorney, he wanted to own his own wine. Wine was the logical route for their alcoholic beverage, as being from Texas, wine could be sold in grocery stores and liquor stores.
“The biggest difference about Tekeen is the fact that it’s orange wine, it’s not grape wine,” she says. It’s the same process as grape wine, but oranges. That’s what gives it that liquor taste.” They knew what flavors they wanted, cucumber-lime, passion fruit and grapefruit, and from there the next step was to hire a scientist to help formulate the product, who she credits with going the agave nectar route, rather than using sugar.
With the beverage figured out, the next hurdle was the bottle. They didn’t want the typical wine bottle, they needed something that would stand out and Christian wanted to sell something that looked more like a vodka. But the original bottle went through two revisions, specifically in regard to the color scheme, to make it more appealing to retailers, and in turn more appealing to customers. “We call that our $100,000 mistake,” Priscilla says.
Starting a wine is not cheap. “Definitely looking in the millions,” she says. And Tekeen, to date, has been privately owned by Priscilla and Christian, without any investors. They’ve pulled this off with hard work and a solid support system in the form of their families. They’re looking to expand beyond Texas now, so that added capital is a must, and they are in the process of courting potential investors.
“The leg work was the most important thing. I tell everyone that’s what has kept us humble, and I don’t expect anyone to do something if I haven’t done it myself,” she says. “For example, our demo girls … we actually own our own promotion company, and I tell the girls, I don’t expect them to stand there for three hours and sample people if I can’t do it. So you’ll still see me, just yesterday, I was at the Kroger in Little Elm doing a demo.” She actually enjoys the in-store demos, as it allows her to put a face with the brand.
The next step was marketing and distribution. “In the state of Texas, you have to have a distributer, unless you’re a Texas made wine. We’re a Texas wine because we’re made in Dripping Springs; that was our loophole. And we kind of distributed ourselves for the first two years, and we used to distribute out of our cars. So that’s us, 20 cases in the back of the car, dropping off ourselves, at these grocery stores, it was crazy, people would look at us like, ‘What is this?’” They eventually got a distributor, but now know the distribution game and can keep their distributor(s) honest.
And it wasn’t easy getting into stores, being a small brand without distribution. Their first meeting with Spec’s Wine, Spirits & Finer Foods ended with a “Get out of my office,” because the Tekeen Two had yet to classify and brand it as the “premium wine cocktail” it is today.
Aside from Tekeen, Priscilla also owns VLF Entertainment, a record label, which was the lane she was in before Tekeen, when she had 23 Entertainment, with her brother Danny Jai as the flagship artist. They had created a buzz in the Rio Grande Valley, before he went off to college (primarily to appease their parents). Danny, while at school, had been doing demos for Tekeen on the side, and when he graduated, he decided that teaching (what he went to school for) was not his path, and that music and being a rapper was his calling. Christian and Priscilla decided to use the music to pair with the alcohol, so they signed Danny to the new label they created.
Going forward, Priscilla is focused on putting Danny and Tekeen together, having recently shot a music video (that the COSIGN team made a cameo in) which included Tekeen product placement. The cross promotion, from Danny being pushed nationally, will push the Tekeen brand nationally. The rule of thumb is that you sell 10,000 cases in your home state before you go national, and Tekeen is just past halfway to that mark. So in the meantime, Priscilla is constantly on the road pushing her product.
Tekeen is sold at HEB, Kroger, Spec’s and in a number of other retailers, all of which is due to the efforts of Priscilla and Christian. Her blueprint has been hard work, not being afraid to get her hands dirty and knowing her product and industry inside and out. She said she wants to be Diddy, and with the alcohol and music already in place, she appears on her way.
Check out our recap from The Blueprint Summit powered by Tekeen.