Meet De Leon Tequila, the marketing expert behind Diddy Cîroc Vodka

In Bustle's Quick Questions, we asked female leaders for all the advice—from the best mentoring they've ever received to the questions they're still figuring out. Here, Ingrid Best, executive vice president of global marketing for spirits at Comb Enterprises, talks to Bustle about leading a team of all-Black female marketers, the honest feedback she believes in, and disrupting liquor Industry stories.

The first thing Ingrid Best does when she wakes up is smile. "It brings out positive energy and a positive attitude towards everything because I'm talking to people all day long," she tells Bustle. “Smiling is a big part of my preparation.”

As head of marketing for Combs Enterprises’ spirits division, Best was appointed by hip-hop and business mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs in 2020 to oversee CÎROC Vodka and DeLeón Tequila. Under Best’s leadership, CÎROC launched #CÎROCStands, a campaign featuring prominent figures in the Black community such as Rosario Dawson to urge voters to head to the polls in the 2020 election. The campaign recently expanded to highlight and support Black-owned businesses.

Behind the scenes, Best is addressing the lack of diversity and inclusion in the spirits industry. Within her first few months, Best successfully assembled a marketing team comprised entirely of black women.

“I have seen firsthand the inequities in hiring, promoting and retaining Black and brown people in the spirits industry,” she said. "A lot of these brands live in the Black community... When you put people in the right roles who look like the consumers you're after, you tend to get better results."

Prior to joining Coombs Enterprises, Best's career included working at Diageo, where she launched the rum brand; and Bacardi, where she worked with Jay-Z's team to launch the first-ever rum in global markets such as South Africa ) launches Dusse.

Here, Best shares what keeps her up at night, her favorite way to de-stress, and how an unexpected career move led to her collaborations with Diddy and Jay-Z.

Ingrid Best's marketing team at Comb Enterprises is made up entirely of black women.

The spirits industry is largely dominated by white men, but your marketing team is made up entirely of black women. What challenges did you face while building the team?

Honestly, I want to give everyone a job. I can't tell you how many people have contacted me and said, "I want to work for you." Black women go through some shocking things in corporate America, so not being able to take a whole village and give them a chance is hard. If I can help everyone, I will.

Does the stress of your role ever keep you up at night?

Yes. Even though I run a fun business in a cultural center, our purpose is rooted in Black ownership and representation and making sure we recognize the marketing we do in front of consumers. Often, I go to bed at night thinking only about this balance—the balance of having fun, the balance of being a good leader, and the balance of being a good consumer advocate.

On the other hand, how do you relax and shut down your brain?

I intentionally walk throughout the day, even if it's just 10 minutes. It helps a lot to start and free up the day. Another way I relax is sometimes I lay out a yoga mat and lie there. My hands are open and my feet are relaxed.

What's the biggest misconception about your character?

The most common misconception in the spirits industry is that we are here to party and be cool. If you're part of my team, you have to understand the business and understand the numbers. We make marketing decisions, even fun ones, with the bottom line in mind.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

A few years ago I was having dinner with friends, one of whom worked for an incredible organization but hated it. She received a job offer and considered leaving her position, but everyone at the table said, "Oh, but you make so much money."

I remember thinking, "The best advice anyone ever gave me was, 'If you're not passionate about it, don't do it.'" I literally blurted it out. Everyone looked at me as if I had said the most provocative thing in the world. She left the job she hated, but she said to me, "You were the only one who told me the truth, and this was the right decision for me."

Before entering the spirits industry, you worked as a street promoter for major music labels. What has surprised you most about your career so far?

When I was 20, my best friend and I started a promotion company. We create store displays, or if an artist has promotions, we manage those promotions at radio stations and retailers. But when music started going digital, a friend of mine who worked at Anheuser-Busch said, "You should think about the spirits business."

What surprised me most was that I wasn’t tired and I felt like I was just getting started. During the day, you handle numerous business calls and meetings. Then, in the evening before lockdown, you might attend a few events in a row. The energy I wake up every morning is like, "You're just getting started, girl."

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.