Ila Byrne and Rodolfo Aldana wanted to capture the spirit of agave without the addition of alcohol. Conscientiously crafted in harmony with the Sonoran Desert, PARCH offers a refreshing alternative for tequila and mezcal aficionados.
PARCH is made with organic Blue Weber agave, prickly pear cactus fruit, and desert botanicals for a full-flavored agave experience. Plus, every batch is infused with a proprietary blend of active adaptogens that can help your body manage stress and regain balance.
Recently, we caught up with Ila to learn more about her journey and hear her advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
1. Why did you start PARCH?
After running the agave (tequilas and mezcals) portfolio for the largest alcohol company in the world, my co-founder Rodolfo Aldana decided to stop drinking alcohol. He found that there was a lack of credible, well-crafted, complex-tasting alternatives and believed there was a social stigma that came with not drinking alcohol.
At the same time, I saw that modern drinkers were shifting towards moderation. I wanted to offer a better solution that could look, feel, and taste just as exciting — a beverage that could even be good for you. Simply put, we wanted to create a modern adult beverage that we could still feel proud to bring to friends’ houses or order at a cool bar. We want people to ask, “What are you drinking?” instead of “Why are you not drinking?”
2. What obstacles did you face along the way?
We have been extremely fortunate in the 16 months we have been in business that we have faced very little obstacles related to consumer and customer demand. In fact, the three biggest obstacles we face are: A. keeping up with demand, B. fundraising to increase our production and C. navigating the complex alcoholic distribution network to access liquor stores, on-premise bars, and restaurants as a non-alcoholic product.
3. What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?
I advise other entrepreneurs to:
- Find a real need to solve for the consumer, both physically and emotionally.
- Build a brand for the long term, not a quick exit.
- Ensure that your brand’s values echo your own values. Your brand should be an extension of the founders and maintain a human connection.
- Handle all customer service issues in-house until it’s untenable.
Once you secure investment, spend like you don’t have that money. Conserve cash at all costs.
4. What’s on the horizon for PARCH?
We are excited to be launching our first collaboration beverage this year with our friends at Daybreaker, the world’s largest sober dance party collective. Sunrise Supertonic is a tea-based herbal elixir to help you wake up and dance. We see it as a healthier alternative to coffee.
This spring will see the launch of our third non-alcoholic agave cocktail, Desert Margarita. It’s a triple citrus, tamarind, and Sonoran sea salt riff on the classic. This year we hope to expand to more bars and restaurants, so look out for PARCH on menus near you soon!
5. How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?
Cutting back on mid-week alcohol has certainly helped me sleep better and regain some of the balance I had lost. I still love a glass of red wine or a delicious cocktail. I just drink them much less often and savor them slowly when I do.
Running a start-up means you are always on, but I personally love that I can run a business through my phone from anywhere. That gives me so much more flexibility throughout the week. Now that I’m sober-curious, I use that time to try out new bars, cafes, and restaurants for business meetings and networking. While I’m there, I also like to explore their non-alcoholic options to see if they’d be a good candidate for PARCH.
I’m inspired by the fluidity of the next generation. I consider Gen Z to be much less boxed in by stereotypes, more curious to try new things, and less judgmental in their view of others. My goal is to create a brand that is inclusive, flexible, and fun while also being committed to honesty, integrity, and continuous improvement.