Jenna Fagnan was born in a small Inuit village in Alaska. The daughter of parents working in non-profit organizations, she grew up in Oregon and Swaziland. Following a career as account manager at ad agency Weiden + Kennedy, handling their Nike and Coca Cola accounts, she moved to LVMH and worked in their wine and spirits division, as well as with Tag Heuer watches.
In 2010 Fagnan co-founded Avion Tequila with Ken Austin. In 2020, they launched a joint project with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who had always wanted to develop a tequila brand. The result was Teremana tequila, a family-run business situated in the Jalisco Highlands in Mexico, producing two varieties of organically grown and chemically pure tequila for the boutique spirit market.
Fagnan made the transition to wine and spirits entrepreneurship in part because she missed working in the sector (she had helped rebrand Dom Perignon whilst at LVMH). She wanted to seize the opportunity to try the experiment while the opportunity was there. “If not now, then when?” she thought.
Tequila is a 16th century spirit which has recently developed fashionable cachet as a drink of celebration (as promoted in TV shows like “Entourage”). Patron led the way as an early market leader in premium tequila, then other designer brands followed suit.
Working with Dwayne Johnson (DJ), Fagnan found a committed celebrity who really wanted to partner with Avion, and commit to working hard to personalize, perfect, and differentiate the Teremana brand. The brand logo incorporates six of the letters from his three daughters’ names. Uniquely, DJ insisted the bottle carry nutritional information about the liquor (including that it contains 96 calories per ½ ounce).
Celebrity Partnership, says Fagnan, can only work if the celebrity is there for the right reasons. As an entrepreneur you must be dealing directly with them, not just their manager. They must not be looking to make a quick buck from a fast launch to which they merely lend their celebrity status. Fagnan and McLeod tried their best to dissuade DJ, their standard strategy for ascertaining a celebrity’s investment, but he proved unflappable.
Not only does a celebrity’s values have to align with the DNA of the brand, but when this is the case, entrepreneurs should not hesitate to hand over an enhanced equity share. The value in terms of reach and scalability will more than compensate for the reduced profit share.
A good way to access celebrities is to use LinkedIn connections and find a through-line to the individual in question. You will initially talk to their management but if you highlight the overlap between your own enthusiasm and values with their client’s, a good manager will not want to pass up a particularly favorable or profitable opportunity.
Teremana Tequila contains no additives, a purity requirement DJ insisted upon, aligned with his own concerns about the food and drink he consumes. The Blanco variety is unaged but made from mature agave. It has a NOM designation of 1613, unique to the brand. The Jalisco Highlands where it was made is an area once blighted by Mexican drug cartels, so it is a major bonus to be able to contribute towards economic stability in the region, and safety and security for its children.
Fagnan is inspired by young entrepreneurs, by their clarity of vision and enthusiasm. She gives back to the businesswomen she meets with advice and support, having been mentored at LVMH by a male executive with a daughter her age. She points out that this is also a great way to keep up with current technological trends and cultural developments.
Fagnan has an ambition to bring more women into the wine and spirits sector. Shockingly, although they constitute 60% of the consumer base, women make up less than 10% of boards within the industry.
This cocktail is so-called because it uses Mexican ingredients and the pineapple references DJ’s part-Polynesian heritage and Hawaiian upbringing.
0.75 oz lime juice
2 oz Teramana Blanco Tequila
½ oz agave nectar
1 oz pineapple juice