A family affair
A former Spanish and Portuguese teacher, Maristella Vasserot ran her own training institute, HISPAM, for 12 years before joining the family business, Cristal Limiñana. She had always seen her grandmother work there, followed by her mother. “When I turned 40 I started to get bored with my job; I needed a change. After giving it a lot of thought, I sold HISPAM so I could get involved in the family business.” Vasserot grew up with the aniseed flavours of Cristal Limiñana, so she knows the company well. In 2013 she helped her parents by devising a development strategy to win new customers, taking a fresh look at the market and seizing new opportunities. In the early days she did the marketing and revamped the company’s image by creating content for social media and online sales. “These tasks meant I had to look at the company from every angle – production, administration, management – and that made me want to offer more products and services.” So the company developed new drinks (rums, whiskies, after-dinner liqueurs), which it made on site and then sold. It also created a range of non-alcoholic drinks and related products, along with new services such as custom alcoholic drinks: “Customers might want a product that reflects them. Sometimes they even come up with their own concept. We develop and distil the alcoholic drink of their dreams.” Through passion and hard work, the young woman has boosted the business while preserving its spirit and family values.
Cristal Limiñana: a Mediterranean adventure
It all began in the 19th century, when Pascual and Manuel Limiñana joined some of their family in Algiers to escape the Iberian economic crisis. They worked in their cousin’s bar and produced Paloma, an aniseed drink from their native Spain. It was a great successs and the business grew. A few years later they decided to set up a factory in Marseille. The building, which looks like a boat, symbolises the family’s Mediterranean adventure. Cristal Anis became their signature product. Today the company is run by Manuel’s daughter, Noëlle Vasserot Limiñana, assisted by her daughter Maristella. The company’s core business remains the aniseed drinks, but the factory has expanded its production to drinks such as rum, gin, vodka and liqueurs. It also makes non-alcoholic beverages and related products such as syrups, sorbets and sweets. All the products can be tasted in the factory shop, and it is one of the few remaining distilleries in Marseille that can be visited by the general public.
By Mathilde Hingray