Under the beating Mexican sun, Kendall Jenner surveys row upon row of sprawling agave plants baking in the arid soil. It’s a long way from the glitter of the Paris runways where cameras first fell in love with her.
Yet when she takes a sip of 818 tequila – her new passion project fresh off the distillery conveyor belt – she knows this is exactly where she needs to be. The sweet, peppery burn conjures memories of backyard gatherings back home where friends and family bonded over shots and stories.
Kendall sets down her glass with a contented sigh as dreams of launch parties on both sides of the border dance in her head…Could her foray into tequila with 818 become as iconic as the Kardashian empire itself?
Her 30th birthday this November carries extra significance after being named to Forbes prestigious 30 Under 30 list. As she steps firmly into womanhood, Kendall hopes to inspire others to keep dreaming big.
Though she doesn’t need more shine, landing on the Forbes power list cements her status as not just a celebrity cover girl but a creative businesswoman in her own right. And she’s only getting started.
Born for More Than Modeling
Kendall never expected to eclipse her famous family as the world’s highest paid supermodel by 22. Yet strutting down runways in Milan and Moscow ultimately left her yearning for new runways to conquer.
“Modeling opened so many doors but also put me in a box creatively,” she shares. “I always had lots of other dreams bubbling with entrepreneurial ideas.”
When COVID stalled international travel, she finally had a chance to recharge and realign with her passion projects. It was time to pursue the other facets of who Kendall really is.
“Turning 30 feels like a turning point to become even more of who I want to be instead of what others expect,” she says, toying with her signature braid.
And who she wants to be is a savvy businesswoman whose ambitions stretch beyond endorsement deals and magazine covers.
Tequila Dreams: From Liquid Muse to Blockbuster Brand
Kendall admits she never expected to become a tequila tycoon. Yet sipping mezcal on a girls trip to Mexico years ago sparked an unexpected obsession.
“I just fell in love with the rich flavors and history,” she gushes. “Learning the heritage craft behind the spirit from families who’ve perfected recipes for generations made me want to be part of preserving that legacy.”
She stored those memories away until 2018 when the universe presented an opportune alignment. The supermodel joined forces with experienced spirits vets to transform her liquid muse into a blockbuster independent tequila brand.
After two years perfecting the blend, 818 was born – winning over critics and stealing market share from old guard names still dominated by men. Bringing California cool to a new class of agaveros.
Kendall is part artist, part activist in a mission to upend who people picture when they think of tequila.
“I want to honor the families in Jalisco who taught me to appreciate tequila while breaking stereotypes about gender and branding in the industry,” she explains.
40 Under 40 on the Horizon?
At 818’s elegant distillery amidst rolling blue agave crops ripe for harvest, Kendall lets her mind wander between meetings with master blenders discussing new expressions.
There’s no limit to what the brand could become with her star power and stubborn work ethic. First conquering California, then the American market in a few short years. Eventually going global?
The scratch of glass on granite stirs Kendall from her reverie as visiting bartenders craft 818’s signature margarita beside the copper stills. She raises a tasting glass in salute under the watchful eye of Popocatépetl volcano presiding over the valley.
Who knows, maybe one of her three younger sisters will join the business too, building a tequila empire to stand the test of time. 10 years from now at 40, could Kendall envision herself on the Forbes 40 Under 40 list?
“I just want 818 to feel like an invitation for people everywhere to follow their passions and never be afraid to surprise themselves,” she smiles, salt air breezing through her hair. “I’m definitely still surprising myself and hope I always will!”