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Inspiring Conversations with Nick Guerrieri of CHELLY

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nick Guerrieri.

Hi Nick, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.

Our story started many years ago. My cousin Guiseppe Guerrieri was born and raised in Rome, Italy. He had this unique limoncello recipe that he shared with my father and I. About 7-10 years ago, he shared that recipe, and we started making it ourselves. We would make this limoncello in our kitchens, fill it in stock milk glasses, and slap a Guerrieri Family Limoncello sticker on the bottle. We took this to gatherings, cookouts, family/friends events, and Christmas parties. One constant remained during each time we served and brought our Guerrieri family limoncello over – “This is some of the best stuff I’ve ever had.”

After hearing this time and time again over the years, we reached the point when Chelly started to take formation. I graduated from The University of Arizona with (Finance major) in December of 2017. There is a large golf event called The Waste Management Phoenix Open, with roughly 100,000 attendees on a Saturday, and it is known in our city as a huge party day. That said, I hosted a party at my house and had about 50 friends attend. As you can imagine, we had many different types and brands of alcohol at the party, mainly all the top-shelf brands everyone knows. Something popped in my head that reminded me that I had some of our family limoncellos in the fridge. So I brought in about 10 of my friends, giving them shots of this limoncello. Back to the common phrase, “This is some of the best stuff I’ve had,” they all shouted. “This is better than anything anyone has brought to this party.” These were high praises and ignited our initiative to get the ball rolling with somehow selling this limoncello. My current business partner was also at the party, and we started to joke around about how fun it would be to start a business selling this. After talking about this all day and night, we began to think about what we would even name it.

Fast forward 9 months later, in the fall/winter of 2018, the name CHELLY was born. This is a made-up word played on the end of the term Limon “cello.” We thought it rolled off the tongue nicely, and we could develop many marketing phrases that would help get the name out. To get to the name CHELLY, we went through hundreds of different names where we would jot down in our notes app and anytime we hit 25 potential names – we would text our friends the list of names and see which stood out. The funny thing is that the word CHELLY was never on any of those lists!

Now that we had our name, our next step was to find out how to legally sell alcohol and this was my responsibility. None of us had any beverage or legal experience with doing this. So what I did was crack open books and articles and read Arizona liquor laws page by page to learn how to successfully and legally sell alcohol in Arizona (Each state’s liquor law can vary tremendously).

After researching and reading tirelessly the best ways to start a distillery – Along with the help of a distillery friend named Chase. We met by doing a bunch of distillery tours to learn how distillery’s operated. Our friend Chase took us under his wing, took an interest in us, and allowed us to get our distillery up and running in less time than normal and for less money.

We visited properties where we could rent a space and craft our product. We landed a spot in Tempe, Arizona, around June of 2019. After getting all things cleared with the federal agencies and local government, we were officially allowed to sell our family limoncello. The business was open at the end of 2019 or right before Covid hit!

Typically alcohol brands are built through bars and restaurants (On-Premise), but they struggled during Covid, so we had to flip that equation around and focus on liquor stores (Off-Premise). We did door-to-door selling and accumulated about 30 independent local liquor stores that loved our product during 2020. It did well, and we had a track record of success. And it was time to look into larger opportunities, and we had our eye on Total Wine. We applied for Total Wine, and they have an extensive process to get in, and we were accepted into all Total Wines in Arizona in January 2021. This was a huge accomplishment for us because Total Wine is a very prominent chain, and we were approved in all 11 locations in Arizona, which meant they believed and were very interested in our product. Not many local brands get accepted into all areas off the bat.

We have been fortunate enough to be involved in some amazing festivals that exposed us to hundreds of thousands of attendees. We were the official spirits of Country Thunder 2021 and the official spirit of the Dusk Music Festival and The Italian Festival.

Right now, we are looking to expand and scale our operations by coming out with new flavors, hiring a full-time team, and being more active in the sponsorships/festival events. That is why we launched our crowdfunding campaign through StartEngine, where anyone with an internet connection can help fuel the growth of CHELLY and become an owner just like us!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

Things are not always smooth as in any other startup or business. But that is the beauty in the journey and the process. We have learned so much just in the past 2-3 years about all things business, and I know I am personally grateful and appreciative that I have an opportunity not only to sell something with my family name behind it but also that I get to wake up and do something I am highly passionate about. My desire to learn and I love taking on new challenges, and this endeavor certainly provides that!

With that being said, one particular struggle sticks out to me. That struggle was getting our product to our customers/retail stores. We were driving all over the city and state to deliver the product, which can be very taxing. I remember when we just got into Total Wine. I went to each Total Wine in the state and personally delivered their first order. Looking back, this was important because we pride ourselves on having excellent customer service, and part of that is being personable.

We did not have a company, which we now do, who could deliver our product for us. I remember those were some tough days as it was already difficult to sell into these stores, and we also had to transport and deliver our product to them each order, leaving less time to focus on the other parts of the business.

The most important thing I have learned and taken with me during each struggle or challenge is that it is another opportunity to improve and learn. It provides excellent perspective, and we come out better.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about CHELLY?

We are an alcoholic beverage manufacturer located in Tempe, AZ, named CHELLY. We craft a New-Age Lemoncello that is made by a recipe handed down by three generations of Italians. It is smooth, delicious, and versatile for any get-together. You can sip to savor it, shoot it for the sweet heat, or mix it to match your mood. Our goal is to refresh your spirit and inspire moments of unity.

We specialize in providing a beverage that is a flexible and flavorful spirit. Our product is as strong and smooth as a Tequila (40%abv), thin as a Vodka (flexible and great with cocktails), and less sugar than your other liqueurs/lemoncellos (Less hangover the next day). This leads to bars selling more products for their bar and increasing their consumer’s joy and experience, whether that be there or even at home where they purchase a bottle at a liquor store.

There are two things we are most proud of. The first is when a person texts/emails/comments on how much they and their friends enjoyed our product and how it made their day or night much better. We made this product to expand consumers’ experience, and when our customers tell us how it improved their party, gathering, or night in. It makes it so worth it. Add to that point is also when a bar/restaurant owner raves to us about how their cocktails are selling more and their customers are loving their updated cocktail on their menu now that they replaced it with CHELLY.

Secondly, we have won Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. This is the world’s most prestigious competition, and we won one of the highest awards possible. We are very proud of that, and thanks to Hunter’s commitment and hard work to bring the vision out in the most tasteful and delicious way possible! We have also been rated one of the highest limoncellos of all time and in the Top 100 Spirits of 2021 list. We are so excited! Many things to be proud of, and those are a few.

We are a smaller brand that does a lot with a little, and we are very efficient and effective with our resources! From our Master Distiller, Hunter Goheen, who is in charge of producing and fine-tuning our product to an award-winning standard, to our industry/business advisors that help us with sales, branding, marketing, scaling, operations, etc., and myself, who leads to make sure we are accountable and executing our mission and vision!

Be on the lookout for more flavors coming out from us as well!

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
As many have seen, health and wellness have been gaining steam, and many other companies are marketing toward that, which is why it is important to keep the sugar levels lower than some of our competitors as consumers are getting more and more health-conscious even when they drink alcohol. Myself included!

Pricing:

  • $19.99 at any Total Wine in Arizona (750ml)
  • Check our find us location tracker here https://drinkchelly.com/find-chelly/
  • Check out our cocktails here https://drinkchelly.com/cocktails/
  • If you want to request our product at your favorite local bar or liquor store. Do that here https://drinkchelly.com/request-us/

Contact Info:

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