We love a creative cocktail. What we don’t love are the sugar and calories that typically go along with it. Enter Jennifer Ross & Cristina Ros Blankfein, two friends who combined a love for cocktails and a need for a low-sugar alternative to create your new favorite mixers. Read on to find out why we’re crushing on them.
Names + occupation: Jennifer Ross & Cristina Ros Blankfein, (aspirational) Beverage Mavens and founders of Be Mixed.
What inspires you? Talking with smart, ambitious people about what they love.
Talk to us about how you started your business. We were sick of drinking vodka sodas. As a Type 1 Diabetic, I (Jen) wanted a delicious drink without the sugar. And, most great drinks have tons of sugar. Even the tonic water in a simple cocktail has six extra spoonfuls of sugar! After talking to my friends, I realized everyone wanted the same thing. So, we set out to make it.
What’s it like working with a friend? The best! Working with a friend makes it easy to divide and conquer. We trust each other implicitly. We have always had the same long-term goals, even if often productively disagree about how to get there. Oh! And it is also the most fun to work with a close friend, especially when lots of our work is over cocktails.
What’s a typical day for you (if there is such a thing)? We’re waiting for one of those! We start off our Mondays with a morning meeting to review progress against our long-term goals, sales numbers, and our focus for the week. We also spend time in the field speaking with retailers, doing samplings for customers, etc. There’s nothing better than staying in close touch with our customers!
(Jen) How does having type 1 diabetes influence your business? I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 6, so my mom played a big part in teaching me how to navigate my diet. She always tried to find—or make—me fun substitutes. Particularly memorable is sugar-free candy and fresh fruit desserts. From her, I learned the importance of dreaming up healthier choices to stand-in for commonplace treats. A big part of my strategy is finding creative hacks—like Be Mixed—so that I seamlessly enjoy the best indulgences without comprising my health.
What are your favorite cocktails?
Jen: I go for a clean and simple Be Mixed Cucumber Mint with vodka.
Cristina: I love cooking and hosting, so I always have a new favorite. Right now I am very into Be Mixed Ginger Lime, Rye Whiskey, muddled blackberries, an orange slice and a dusting of cinnamon. It’s easier than it sounds….which is the secret to hosting on a tight schedule ☺
Three things you’re most passionate about:
Cristina: My grandparents came to the US during the Cuban Revolution in the early 60s with their families and an education. Since I was a little girl my mother impressed on me that those are the two critical ingredients to succeed…no matter the circumstances. I’ve taken that to heart and worked hard to excel in school to put myself in the position to learn from very driven peers and teachers. Grateful for the many opportunities that education creates for my family and myself, I started a 501c3 with two friends in college—Circle of Women—that encourages students as change agents to build schools for girls where they are needed most.
Jen: My father taught me to pursue my passions by building something I cared about. Starting Be Mixed has been a dream come true. People are always around to naysay. We’ve been told countless times how hard it is to make it in the beverage industry—and that just energizes me to work harder and think more creatively. Be Mixed is a product that brings lots of joy to people—cocktail hour is about celebration and now people can enjoy the experience without excess sugar. I’m proud of what we’ve done to create the clean drinking movement…and we’re just getting started.
In a world filled with constant electronic communication we value old-fashioned conversation so much. You’ll never see us with our phones out during a face-to-face meeting because we know that magic happens when people take the time to really listen and think big together. This is true at home and at work. Especially when we are at our busiest, we crave the calm and focus of a good conversation with someone we respect.
A good conversation can clear up any misunderstanding and generate creative solutions; therefore, we prioritize frequent in-person catch-ups – from our customers at sampling events to our logistics partners in our warehouse. We’ve also been lucky to have the help of incredible personal and professional mentors who give the best, unfiltered advice. Hearing hard truths is always easier in-person ☺
Cristina: I always carry a water of bottle and hydrate throughout the day. I sometimes “spike” it with a bit of Be Mixed for natural flavor.
Jen: I never go to bed without washing my face.
Cristina: Oh no! And I always go to bed with eye make-up on….sorry mom!
Jen: I bite my nails. I know, I know…
First thing you do when you wake up:
Jen: I am not a morning person, so I embarrassingly start each morning with one snooze. After that I don’t look at my phone. Some mornings I work out, others I grab a quick breakfast with my husband, but I find that giving myself a moment to gather my thoughts before diving straight into my inbox helps me to think long term and be less reactionary.
Cristina: Since my 9 month-old baby wakes me up, my mornings now are all about him. His one-toothed smile beams just over the crib banister and we spend the first hour together, just the two of us. I feed him while we cuddle and chat about what’s on my mind. I know, poor guy, but it helps me prioritize my day! My husband then wakes up and we both just marvel at our son. Not sure when it will soak in that he’s ours and we get to hang out forever!
What’s your typical hair/beauty routine?
Jen: I always wear sunscreen—even in the dead of winter—and think that dry shampoo is life-changing. I also find that drinking less sugar makes my skin and hair feel and look better.
Cristina: When I shower I quickly wash my hair and apply conditioner to the ends that I then leave-in for the duration of the shower to keep my long hair healthy. I then moisturize with coconut oil. I swear by a swipe of Laura Mercier Rose Bloom blush and mascara.
How often do you wash your hair?
Cristina: I’m a night-time showerer since I still worry that if I go outside with wet hair I will catch a cold. I aspire to wash my hair every few days, but usually can’t help but duck my head under the shower to have a meditative, cleansing moment.
Jen: I’ve finally become a grown-up, which means that I have learned how to shower without immediately washing my hair.
Favorite Living Proof product(s):
Jen: Perfect hair Day Dry Shampoo…it is the best!
Cristina: Full Shampoo and Conditioner. My mom has Farrah Fawcett hair and this product helps mine look less like a rag in comparison. It also smells great! I then use Perfect hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment to protect my hair if I blow dry it, and to give it a bit of texture if I don’t.
Biggest hair regret:
Jen: In college, I listened to my mom and told my hairdresser to just get rid of the split ends. I ended up with a short lob after having long hair and it took over a year to grow it back.
Cristina: Highlights. High-school. Enough said.
One thing you would never do to your hair:
Jen: Cut it short. My hair doesn’t grow very quickly and I am that person who always leaves a haircut disappointed.
Cristina: Relax it. I have the slightest wave that I try to cultivate to add a bit of bounce. The little girl in me still wishes I had Shirley Temple curls.
Who is your role model?
Oh, so many! On a personal level we turn to our families and closest girlfriends.
Our mothers are generous, grateful, tenacious, and brave. They’ve taught us so much about being kind to everyone we meet and learning to multi-task efficiently. We admire so many professionals’ careers and draw inspiration from many resources, but our moms really rock in a 360° way.
What about your Woman Crush? Name yours.
If we have to pick just one, Sara Blakely of Spanx is an entrepreneur we really admire. She turned a stodgy, unsexy category inside out. She changed the perception of shape wear to make it un-embarrassing, comfortable, and even fun. We also admire her process. Her story is one of building a healthy business behind a quality product from the start. She is methodical, listens to customers, and thinks differently about the everyday.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
You don’t have to know everything. You just have to surround yourself with great people who do!
How do you act confident (even when you don’t feel confident)?
We try to be grateful and ask lots of questions whenever we are in “pinch ourselves” situations. Being honest definitely goes further than sugar-coating.
David Chang is a total food and beverage gamechanger. He has the incredible ability to push the envelope and remain accessible. At the end of the day, he focuses on wonderful customer service and this allows him to take customers’ tastebuds on a very cool adventure. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, which we love. We think he reminds customers that a great culinary experience is as much about taste as having fun.
What do you wish someone would invent next?
More hours in the day!
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