In Their Shoes: Bourbon's Queen of Creative
DEMYSTIFYING CREATIVE + DESIGN WITH CRISTIANA VENTURA
You've probably seen her hands on the Heritage Distilling Company Instagram page or as the face behind many of the brand's "Happy Hour at Home" IGTV videos. As Creative Manager at Heritage Distilling Company, Cristiana Ventura leads brand design and creative at the most awarded craft distillery in North America. But her career hasn't been linear. With her marketing and creative journey starting in the nonprofit sector, she made her way to education, now beverage, and soon to be retail*. Cristiana is a force to be reckoned with. With not only her design, brand, and community prowess, she has an infectiously positive attitude and is constantly finding ways to grow and learn in her area of expertise.
ABOUT YOU + YOUR CAREER
How did you find and land your current gig?
Cristiana: I visited the tasting room a few weeks before I saw the listing online. I remember telling my friend how great the company is and how cool and different it would be to work for a small growing company. A couple weeks after the visit I saw the listing online for Design + Content Creator and it sounded like the perfect fit. I remember one of my friends had only Heritage products at her wedding, so I reached out if she had a connection. I got an interview a few weeks later. Very thankful for that connection!
What was your pathway up until this point? Was it linear or have you had some twists and turns?
Cristiana: Kind of both! I studied Communications and Non-Profit Management in undergrad. My first couple of jobs out of college were in both of those realms. Then I started grad school to receive a Master of Communication in Digital Media. I figured after my studies were completed it would be a “good transition time” so I looked for work outside of the non-profit sector, and I landed on Heritage Distilling Co. as a Design + Content Creator. As our company grew and needs became more apparent, that role grew to Creative Manager.
How would you explain what you do, and what your company does, to a 10-year-old?
Cristiana: “I make sure that as a brand, we consistently look and sound the best we possibly can, everywhere we are seen.”
What are the top three skills and traits a person should have to be able to do the work you do?
Flexibility - so many things in the food & beverage industry have tight deadlines. Being able to work on the fly and piece together stories and projects really help you get work done efficiently.
Empathy - customer experience is everything when it comes to e-commerce and social media. Our team always tries to step back whenever we can and look at whatever we are creating through a different lens.
A desire to continuously grow and improve - I love making cocktail videos and different types of digital content. Technology is always changing and so are trends. Growing and adapting to put your best foot forward is necessary!
What advice do you have for someone interested in working in a creative or digital role in the food and beverage industry? What lessons have you learned?
Cristiana: Kind of on the same note, you always have to adapt. And I think that is the situation for every career and every industry you are in. We must pivot and learn and grow. By doing so you are always preparing yourself for what is next.
WHAT KEEPS YOU ORGANIZED AND ENERGIZED
What do you absolutely need at your desk to function?
Cristiana: My calendar opened as a pinned tab in my browser. A physical to-do list with my top 5 for the day. My phone nearby: managing social is a beast in itself, so having all apps open and nearby helps me feel ready for anything that comes up!
What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?
Cristiana: I have a love/hate relationship with the project management app, Asana, but I truly couldn’t keep up with all of the projects going on without it. Spotify is my favorite during work and in life. If I hit a rut, I change the playlist and feel way better within minutes. Also I love Clarity Money, life happens and schedules are busy but it’s nice knowing where my money went - makes me feel even a little bit more organized in my routine.
Do you have any "must attend" conferences for folks in your space?
Cristiana: I love Adobe Max. It’s extremely creatively inspiring and so helpful to keep up with the latest Adobe updates for those in the creative field. Great opportunities to network, too!
Who are the people who help you get things done, and how do you rely on them?
Cristiana: Personally - my sister is my sounding board. I can vent to her a lot about work and I know it’s completely unbiased. She always brings me back to reality, reminds me of my values, and calls me out when I need it. But also she knows my passions and helps bring me back to those when I get tied up in work mentality. Professionally - my best friend Jordan is a great sounding board. She went to grad school with me, we share a lot of the same professional goals and share the same frustrations. We FaceTime every couple of weeks and give an update on where we are at with work, it’s great to keep me on track but also gives me some introspection and motivation. Also professionally is my counterpart - Courtney. We just get each other and we understand what is on each other's plate at work, with that we try to help as much as we can while balancing our own tasks. Extremely thankful for that one.
How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?
Cristiana: I can openly admit that a glass of wine and Netflix is my guilty pleasure. But also, I made the decision to become a spin instructor earlier this year. I wanted to challenge myself outside of work and to decompress in a healthier routine!
ADVICE AND CLOSING THOUGHTS
What’s your #1 interviewing tip for people on the job hunt?
Cristiana: Make sure you believe in and are passionate about everything you say. You have to be authentic to exude confidence but also you become a way better storyteller when you know the ins and outs of the situation and experience it first hand.
What's one piece of advice you'd tell your former self?
Cristiana: Never say never! Go with the ebbs and flows, they can suck but you never know where it may take you. Or what connection you make makes that can take you down a completely different path. Try to think forward - what experience can I gain today that will help me check off a desired qualification down the road.
What are you reading and listening to right now?
Cristiana: I’m currently reading Save Me The Plums, all about former Editor in Chief of Gourmet Magazine and her experience growing in that position. I haven’t stayed loyal to a podcast in a while, but pick up Money Girl pretty often. I have “become more financially literate” on my 2019-2020 Goal list.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that hasn’t been mentioned yet?
Cristiana: I think we all know it, but connections are everything. Obviously don’t just use people as a way to get connected to a future job listing, but truly connect and learn from other people. They have different insights and have had different experiences. The more we learn from one another the better we can communicate with one another - personally and professionally.
Also, come down to Tacoma and take my spin class!
Big thank you to Cristiana for allowing us to spotlight her!
*And in exciting news, Cristiana is onto her next marketing adventure soon. She'll be the new Digital Marketing Manager at TREE, an eco-conscious furniture and interior design company in Tacoma, WA, and we can't wait to see what creative, innovative ideas she brings!