Family is a deeply rooted Italian value.
That’s especially true with Nick Guerrieri and Stuart Francis who founded Chelly, a Tempe-based Italian distillery that makes lemon liqueur. When they saw their families struggling in Italy with COVID-19, they decided to reboot their company to make hand sanitizer.
“It organically happened,” says Guerrieri, who has donated 200 bottles to 30 businesses, including the Mayo Clinic. “We have a good supply of grain alcohol and decided to do something positive with it.”
“We have a lot of gratitude and appreciation for the people who are still going to their day jobs every day. This is a deadly virus and they’re still putting their lives on the line. We wanted to make the place safer for them in a time of need.”
It’s been difficult for the two to see their families struggling in Italy with COVIT-19.
“We’re not over there right now to help our family and friends. But, if it’s one thing we want to do is build this company on the core values of taking care of our community in a time of need. As they take care of us, we take care of them,” Guerrieri says.
Following the FDA guidelines, the hand sanitizer is made of hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol and the grain neutral spirit. The sanitizer is about 80% alcohol, which is a hospital requirement.
They are concerned about the dwindling supply of a key ingredient, but they are in contact with their supplier to receive more.
“A lot of distilleries have also been trying to help out, and grain neutral spirits are hard to come by. We’re still continuing to make what we have in the warehouse right now,” Guerrieri says.
“Assuming that we’ll get a steady supply, we will continue to make sanitizer as long as this crisis is going,” Francis adds.
Although it has been a dark time, Francis says it’s been great to connect with the community.
“It’s cool for us because once this is all over, we’ll have forged relationships with a lot of these businesses that we don’t currently have. It’s a nice way to extend an olive branch to people,” he says.
Guerrieri was born in Silicon Valley but grew up in Scottsdale with entrepreneurial parents who piqued his own curiosity for business.
A New York native, Francis loves to travel, especially in his family’s home country of Italy.
The two Italians are recent grads from the University of Arizona’s Eller School of Management and share a passion for their culture. The business started in memory of Guerrieri’s cousin, Giuseppe Guerrieri, a food and drink connoisseur. Their goal is to teach the younger demographic about liqueur.
“We just want to represent Italy and Italians in the best way,” Guerrieri says. “This is what the Italians pride themselves in: his family. We believe our community is our family. When one goes down, we have to step up and help those with a lending hand.”