The global reach tequila has within the spirits industry is staggering, numbering into the billions already with projects of $14.7 billion by 2028. Lobos 1707, one of the rising players in the tequila and mezcal space, is currently overseen by one of the savviest business minds today in Dia Simms who shared her journey in the industry, the push for diversity, and much more.
Simms graciously lent her time to Spirit.Ed to discuss her foray into the world of tequila after years of helping Sean “Diddy” Combs transform Ciroc into one of the leading brands today. We opened up the chat to delve into Simms’ time as the president of Combs Enterprise, paving the way to her current role.
“I started off working as an assistant for Sean “Diddy” Combs, Brother Love, Puff Daddy, whatever you know him as, and I’ve never done anything like this before,” Simms began. “Prior to that, I worked for the U.S. Department of Defense which was nothing like this potential opportunity. The reason I took the job is that I knew there would be a lot I could learn from this man.
Simms continued, “I knew that I wanted to learn more about entrepreneurship and this was probably the best place to get that information. I went on to become his executive assistant and then I was promoted to chief of staff before rising in the ranks to become the first president of Combs Enterprises, which encompasses a number of lifestyle brands like Sean John among others.”
Along the way, Simms was there in the early days of launching the REVOLT network, the Unforgivable fragrance, and developing the market reach for Ciroc. Simms shared that Ciroc became a central part of her focus, which helped establish her as a major player in the spirits industry.
“We worked in partnership with the largest spirits company in the world, Diageo, to bring Ciroc to the forefront. It wasn’t performing that well but we worked relentlessly to build that brand up. I loved working with them and we’re proud of transforming the brand into one of the top vodkas on the market,” Simms explained. “I worked with Puff for over 14 years and he’ll always be a brother to me.”
Shifting gears to Lobos 1707, we asked Simms about her move from Combs Enterprises to her current position. In her words, Simms loves to take on new challenges and, to use her words, “building things from scratch.”
“At some point, I knew it was time to do something fresh and new and also a place where I can learn new things. Beyond tequila, agave spirits at large is a growing, booming business. And right under the agave spirits, tequila is finally getting the respect it deserves,” Simms says of her interest in the Mexican-based spirit. “It has a bad reputation due to hangovers and rough nights but there’s so much agricultural brilliance that goes into agave spirits like mezcal and tequila, which itself is technically a mezcal.”
Simms added, “I’m so delighted that I was able to partner with our founder Diego Osorio and LeBron James in bringing Lobos 1707 to market. We’re so proud of this product. For example, our Extra Anejo expression is 12 to 14 years in the making from harvesting to your glass. We believe we have so much further to go in this space and we’re just getting started.”
Spirit.Ed recently published a piece on approaching mezcal and Simms shared that the market in that space is growing even faster than tequila in some respects. Lobos 1707 has a version of the smoky spirit on shelves but what makes this bottle stand out, as with all of the “wolf pack” offerings is the juice is finished in sherry, which takes some of the smoke away and brings in the smoothness that makes it approachable to those new to mezcal.
Lobos 1707 expressions on the market are the Joven, Reposado, Extra Anejo, and the Mezcal, all finished in sherry and offer sippers various entry points and drinking possibilities for all. While Simms says mixing the Joven or the Reposado is fine for mixing, she carefully suggests that their Extra Anejo, quote, “pairs best with friends.”
Along with turning Lobos 1707 into a global giant, Simms also made sure to mention that the company is its diversity. Women make up 50 percent of the company and the company also boasts a 60 percent diversity profile. Simms is also a co-founder of Pronghorn, alongside Errin Harris, and Dan Sanborn. The company’s mission is to bring equity and diversity to the adult beverages industry and they’re inviting new leaders of the space to join their efforts in doing so.
“Just as we’re doing with Lobos 1707, we want this industry to expand beyond its current confines and show that the tapestry of diversity isn’t limited to one group. What we’re doing is providing a lane for everyone if we can,” Simms concluded.
To learn more about Lobos 1707, click here.
To learn about Pronghorn and how to get involved, click here.
Photo: Dia Simms