SIBC Students Tackle Real-World Business Challenges for Family Tequila Business and a Sustainable Fashion Force

Monday, February 24, 2020TOPICS: International

USD School of Business SIBC student team in Tequila, Mexico
begin quoteTraveling abroad to present their consulting projects offers an invaluable opportunity to interact firsthand with the clients. In this particular case, the SIBC team met a young family enterprise with the lofty ambition of becoming a global brand.

From ideating a new marketing strategy for Baked Bear right here in San Diego to assisting with communications and topic research for the annual meeting of the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society in Paris, France, student members of the Student International Business Council (SIBC) --  a privately endowed, student-led organization dedicated to peace through commerce -- are connected to incredible real-world professional opportunities. The consulting projects they participate in culminate in a presentation to their client on-site -- all around the world. For several members, this means a chance to travel internationally in a business context, possibly for the first time ever.

An international trip involves a visit to the company, an opportunity to network within the organization, a dinner (or other outing) that gives students a more informal setting to connect with the client, as well as a day or two spent on location to learn about the country and its culture. Last semester, SIBC student groups traveled to Tequila, Mexico and Buenos Aires, Argentina to present their project deliverables to the family-run tequila business, Casa Don Javier, and to the sustainable fashion company, Animaná. 

A team of eight undergraduate students from various majors, in collaboration with students from the SIBC at Benedictine College, assessed the market potential of Casa Don Javier to enter the competitive U.S. spirits market with their high-quality tequila. Four members of the team then traveled to Jalisco, Mexico where they visited the town of Tequila and met with their client. While there, they networked with company management, including the international sales director, who had previously studied in a summer program organized by the Ahlers Center for International Business. It was this experience that later prompted him to reach out to the USD School of Business and the SIBC for help on entry strategies to break into the U.S. market. 

Students also learned firsthand about many facets of the tequila industry in Jalisco by visiting local agave plant farms, taking part in a tequila tasting, and listening to lively mariachi music -- all of which gave context to their project. 

“My overall experience working on the Casa Don Javier project was amazing,” says Cesar Manzo, an accounting junior. “The opportunity to work with students from Benedictine College was a unique experience that I had not experienced before. It was a privilege to go present in the beautiful city of Guadalajara, Mexico and get to know more about the Mexican culture and how the tequila production plays a big role in the Mexican culture.” 

Alongside SIBC Advisor Brittany Kirk and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Stephen Conroy, Clinical Professor of International Business Eileen Daspro serves as a mentor for various SIBC projects, including the Casa Don Javier and Animaná projects. 

“Traveling abroad to present their consulting projects offers an invaluable opportunity to interact firsthand with the clients in their own professional and cultural setting,” shares Professor Daspro. “In this particular case, the SIBC team got to meet a young family enterprise with the lofty ambition of becoming a global brand to find out what they’ve accomplished so far and the fears and anxieties they have about the challenges they still face. For some of them, this was a chance to connect to their Mexican roots and see a side of Mexico that is very different from San Diego's border town, Tijuana.”

Another team of students was inspired by the need to confront the environmental issues that have arisen as consequences of consumerism. They worked with the Argentinian sustainable fashion retailer, Animaná, to find ways to boost exports as a way to overcome struggling sales at its flagship stores in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Paris, France. Increased sales would allow Animaná to have a greater impact on its mission of promoting economic development in marginalized Andean communities through its nonprofit organization.

The SIBC team performed a competitive analysis of sustainable fashion brands and how they successfully sell their products in the U.S., a showroom analysis of retailers that work with ethical and sustainable brands and a tradeshow analysis to identify which tradeshow could be most beneficial for Animaná to attend. 

Animaná’s founder, Adriana Marina, is paving the way in sustainable fashion. She is an Ashoka fellow, meaning she’s a recognized social entrepreneur. In addition to leading Animaná, she also runs the nonprofit, Hecho por Nosotros, through which she builds relationships with local artisans to source textiles for Animaná’s garments. The organization is also recognized as an advisor by the United Nations Economic and Social Council on the topic of the global fashion industry. 

“After meeting with and presenting to Animaná, my attachment to their company became personal,” shares Kalley Kenny, a marketing senior. “Hearing Adriana speak about her passion and why she's doing what she is doing instantly traps you into wanting to know more and more as well as wanting to support what she is doing.” 

Impressed by the results of the SIBC students’ presentations, the projects with Casa Don Javier and Animaná will continue into next semester and next year. Casa Don Javier seeks to choose the right distributor for entry into the California market while Animaná will continue to look to students to better understand their demographic and how to convince them that investing in quality, sustainable clothing is better than buying into “fast fashion.”

“Working on an SIBC project teaches you significant lessons than can be applied to classes, internships and future jobs,” explains Kenny. “Through innovation and critical thinking, the SIBC holds us accountable to solve a problem for a real-world company.”


Renata Ramirez
(619) 260-4658