As the summer months are now within reach, your social calendar may be filling up pretty quickly.

Founder of Caleño - Ellie Webb - shares her story behind the non-alcoholic brand
Founder of Caleño - Ellie Webb - shares her story behind the non-alcoholic brand

Most of the plans revolve around alcohol, which may have left you feeling a little flat, but you still want to show your face and let your hair down. Don’t sweat it! There are many alternative non-alcoholic drinks for you to choose, including the brand, Caleño.

We chat to founder of Caleño, Ellie Webb, on her inspiration behind her non-alcoholic beverages and the advice she would have given herself before starting her business.

Could you tell our readers what Caleño is?

Caleño is a range of distilled tropical non-alcoholic spirits inspired by the sun-drenched spirit of Colombia. We are on a mission to bring joy to ‘not drinking’ by capturing the intense flavours, rhythms, and colours of my vibrant motherland. Caleño takes you seamlessly from day to night. There’s ‘Light & Zesty’, a tropical and refreshing blend of Inca berry, citrus and spice botanicals made for sunny daytime sipping. And ‘Dark & Spicy’, a warming infusion of dark tropical pineapple notes, ginger and kola nut spices - it really is a holiday in a bottle! We’re on a mission to create more moments of joy and change people’s perceptions of what it means to not drink. Just because you’re not drinking alcohol, doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time and enjoy a delicious drink.

Why did you want to create a non-alcoholic spirits business?

Caleño was born out of personal frustration. I was on an alcohol-free night out with friends, getting down to some Latin funk, but something was bugging me: I felt uninspired by the non-alcoholic drinks on offer. Why should not drinking mean not having fun? I decided it was time to bring some joy to ‘not drinking’ - and that’s when Caleño was born.

Where do you retrieve inspiration for Caleño?

Caleño first came to life in my kitchen, but it was 5,000 miles later, on a trip back to Colombia, when I felt re-inspired by my Latin roots. After soaking up the vibrant colours and tropical flavours of my homeland, I decided to return home and bottle it. The word ‘Caleño’ means ‘of Cali’, the Colombian city where my mum is from, a place famous for its salsa dancing, cuisine, and culture. Colourful Colombian towns like Cartagena and Guatape provided inspiration for Caleño’s bold and bright bottle designs.

Why do you think non-alcoholic drinks are becoming more popular?

In its early days, there was a feeling that Lo & No Alcohol might be ‘a fad’ and that it would pass. However, it’s most definitely here to stay! There’s room for us all at the table. Caleño is stocked in major supermarkets - Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, M&S and on Ocado - which just goes to show the demand for an alternative option to alcohol. The younger generation are driving this trend for moderation, not ‘binge’ drinking and leading a healthier lifestyle, so non-alcoholic drinks are perfectly placed for this.

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"Caleño isn’t an anti-alcohol brand, it was created as a solution for people who are looking for variety and to find balance."

How does Caleño convince social drinkers to purchase your non-alcoholic spirits?

There isn’t a rule or anything about Caleño that says you “can’t” drink. Caleño isn’t an anti-alcohol brand, it was created as a solution for people who are looking for variety and to find balance. We’re all about moderation! We just want to be there for those times you want a delicious, well thought-about drink when you don’t want alcohol. We’re here to say, you can still have fun and enjoy yourself!

Do you have any advice for women who have a business idea but are wary of taking the plunge?

I have a mentor who gives me great advice, including ‘fail fast, learn from it quickly and move on’. I think it’s important that you’re not afraid of failure; things will go wrong, they always do, and you learn from them, which makes you stronger and better at what you do. Remember, it’s not the end of the world.

If you could tell yourself anything when you first started your business, what would it be?

Lean on others - find people who you can work with and learn from. Some of the people I met during those very early days are still suppliers and I still work with them now. Some have even become mentors to me. Also, you will have freedom, but not in the way you anticipated. You’ll have freedom to make your own decisions, and build out your team, but a business is all consuming, and will take up all of your time, and you have to be prepared for that. That can sometimes mean sacrificing time with friends, and family, working harder than you’ve ever worked, and definitely not switching off at 5pm. But don’t worry, it won’t be forever and you’ll do it as and when it’s the right time for your business.

What’s next for Caleño?

This year we've been incredibly pleased to secure a fantastic amount of new distribution, with new listings in M&S, Ocado and Waitrose. In addition to that we've seen great traction with restaurants and bars. This year is about making the most of all that distribution and really starting to ramp up our brand awareness, which means big, bold, impactful marketing campaigns that will get people reacting and engaging with our brand. We’re coming into our 4th year, so it feels like the right time to go big and we’ve got an exciting summer campaign planned. As always we’ll continue to deliver on our mission which is to show people they don’t need alcohol to have a good time, and not drinking needn’t be dull!

For more information, visit:

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Written by Laura, who you can follow on Twitter, @LauraJadeC20

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