TCU grad makes
purple ritas rain
Making purple margaritas are more than just a great drink for TCU graduate Kathy Doyle Thomas. It’s a business, too.
Thomas recently launched Ready Ritas and the timing might be perfect. Texas Christian University’s men’s basketball team this week is preparing to do battle with the University of Central Florida in the NIT Final Four in New York.
“There are sure to be watching parties where people will serve margaritas. And it will be even better if those margaritas are purple,” notes the 1979 graduate. And of course, there’s baseball season, where TCU excels.
But margaritas aren’t Thomas’ only job. She is also an executive vice president at Dallas-based Half-Price Books. Ready Ritas Margarita Mix is an entrepreneurial small business that happens to involve a drink most Texans associate with good times, Mexican food, parties and sporting events. It is, to quote Sly and the Family Stone, a family affair.
Husband Greg Thomas is a Dallas attorney who set up the company and is CEO. He was also the one who suggested Thomas expand her product line. Specifically, the University of Texas graduate suggested his wife develop burnt orange margarita mixes for the large and partying Longhorn nation. Son Clayton and daughter Kristen also attended TCU and all work in the business promoting Ready Ritas to fellow alums as well as to friends from other colleges and universities. Recent TCU graduate Colin, another son, is currently working full time for the company. A niece is helping with marketing materials and Thomas’ 86-year-old mother has been known to distribute flyers and work at a tasting in College Station.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Thomas says. “People just seem to love margaritas and this is a novelty item to take to parties.”
It’s fitting that the business is family-oriented. Thomas says she grew up in a large Irish-Italian family in San Antonio and learned how to make margaritas from her dad in the early 1970s. “Throughout this whole process, extended family members have been color analysts, willing taste testers and all have worked at sampling events,” she says.
Thomas said she has been making purple margaritas for years. “It was just a fun thing for parties and people started asking for the mix,” she says.
That’s when she thought about making a business out of all the fun. It took some work, even if some of it was tasting margaritas. It was a lot of work to perfect the color. School alums are particular.
“It was all a lot of hoops. I worked with three different food coloring companies, because my purple kept turning to blue,” she says. “Then I got it right. I love times like that.”
Ready Ritas come in an easy-to-carry plastic pouch that is designed to make them easy to freeze, transport and pour. Each pouch holds 64 ounces of lime-flavored mix, which, when the liquor is added, makes 14 six-ounce margaritas. Getting the bag right took some work as well. Some bags weren’t sturdy enough to carry to a tailgate, while others wouldn’t sit right on a table. Finally she found the right one with a wide, two-inch spout that makes it easy to add the liquor to the mix. After shaking the bag, it can be poured over ice for a quick margarita or put the bag in the freezer for about eight hours and it’s ready as a slushy margarita.
“There is not a bag on the market that is as versatile,” says Thomas.
Each bag is $12.99 and has 64 ounces of mix. Ready Ritas are available online and at some retail outlets.
The process of starting a company has taught the TCU graduate a few things. “It’s made me really appreciate all the challenges entrepreneurs go through,” she says. “But I get to do this with my kids, that’s really fun.”