This week, we’re thrilled to be sharing one of our favorite female-founded brands, 21Seeds. Lead by three amazing moms, it’s an all-natural line of fruit and botanical-infused tequila. The first thing you need to know about 21Seeds is it’s as far from the harsh tequila shots of college bars as you can get. In fact, the company was born when filmmaker Kat Hantas started to infuse her own high-quality tequila with fresh fruits as an alternative to wine.
“About 10 years ago, when I found that I could no longer tolerate my nightly glass of rose or white wine, my doctor (seriously!) suggested I swap in a clear distilled spirit which would have less inflammatory organic matter. The thought of drinking tequila every night felt a bit aggressive and I find it to be a bit harsh, so I started to infuse with fresh fruits and things I had on hand,” shares Kat, who is mom to Elias, 13 and Abigail, 11. “Turns out my girlfriends (and guys too) loved the taste of my infused tequila, and after 8+ years of making this in my kitchen I decided to go bigger with the idea,” she adds. Kat brought on her sister, Nicole Hantas-Emanuel (mom to Silas, 7 and Petra, 5), and their friend Sarika Singh (mom to Isaac, 5 and Ani, 9), and 21Seeds was born. Here’s more about this fast-growing company and the three moms behind it:
Can you please tell us a bit about your professional backgrounds prior to launching 21Seeds?
Kat: I spent my earlier career in the film industry, initially on the talent management side and later as an Indie film producer (watch it with your kids!).
Nicole: I’ve applied my finance skills to a career in digital media (Refinery29, BritCo) and I am now the CFO of Angelist in addition to being the CFO and COO of 21Seeds.
Sarika: I’ve spent most of my career with food and beverage companies (in categories from Seaweed snacks to Quinoa) managing innovation, commercialization and scale up.
Fantastic. You already have quite a celebrity following—everyone from Katie Couric to Jessica Alba loves your product! What has that been like?
We love each and every one of our Seeds Squad and having organic celebrity supporters like Jessica and Katie has been amazing and humbling! The truth is celebrity women are just like any other women; when they find something they love they want to share it with their girlfriends! That is what is happening with 21Seeds. She is like the fun friend that girls always want to include when planning for a fun night out, girls’ night in, exciting girls’ trip…you never want to start a good time without her! On a side note, we did jump up and down and were a bit star struck when we made the O List! We grew up watching Oprah and are huge fans so that was a big moment for us especially since we had just launched!
Love your slogan #girlscalltheshots. How did you come up with this and what does it mean to you and your team?
Kat: Well…it’s true! It’s fun, lighthearted, and empowering all at the same time and that’s what we stand for as a brand! When the words first came out of my mouth, we looked at each other and thought….wait…this is us.
Love it. You went to Mexico to find a female owned distillery. What was that process like and why was that so core to your mission?
Sarika: We actually went to Mexico to find a distillery that would partner with us on our unique infusion process, and it just so happened that the one that had the best tequila and was willing to innovate with us was also female owned and operated! Turns out she also staffs mostly women and schedules their work hours with their children’s’ school hours because they cannot afford childcare outside the home. They are the most hard working, pride in their work ladies you could ever meet and we are lucky to call them our partners!
How did the three of you come together?
Nicole: When Kat decided to take her kitchen infused tequila to scale she called me. I am a serial CFO in digital media (R29 & Brit + Co) and her sister, so it was a perfect fit for the big ambitions of 21Seeds. Kat and Sarika were SF mom friends and had many similar entrepreneurial ideas that they used to chat about over cocktails or coffee or at one of Kat’s “cookbook” potluck parties. When it came time to take things out of Kat’s kitchen, Sarika’s background and mine were a perfect fit. Hence the name, 21Seeds…2 sisters and 1 friend…
What separates 21 Seeds from other flavored tequilas? (ingredients, etc.)
Sarika: We believe we are the best tasting and smoothest tequila on the market. Our proprietary infusion process is so much more than adding a few drops of flavor, we do a true infusion, with many nuances to the process that we execute in conjunction with the distillery that results in a truly premium flavored Tequila.
What would you tell someone who equates tequila with harsh shots, etc.?
Kat: Try 21Seeds and we’ll bring you back! Believe me we have heard this before “oh no, I can’t even smell the stuff!” We pop off that cork and the incredible smell of oranges or cucumbers and jalapeno lures them in for a taste. Then, when they taste it and don’t make that awful face made when sipping regular tequila because it’s so harsh (we call that shot-face!) that quite honestly, is causing you wrinkles! They are hooked!
Ha, so what’s your favorite cocktail?
Kat: When I am making a cocktail it’s the Spicy margarita with our Cucumber Jalapeno tequila, but every night I enjoy a simple Seed and Soda (21Seeds Valencia Orange and club soda!) with a fresh slice of orange in a wine glass. The best part its only half the calories of a glass of wine!
How has the pandemic affected business—positively, I would presume?!
Nicole: Business has been good as more people are buying spirits in stores and in grocery and creating at-home cocktail experiences.
Throughout the pandemic, so many moms were isolated. Why is 21Seeds a perfect spirit to bring people together?
Sarika: This past year has shown a lot of us that those little things make a big difference. Having a beautifully garnished spritz or cocktail with friends is a great way to enjoy the moment and make memories as we head back into normalcy. Our hope is that 21Seeds makes it easy for women to entertain and connect.
Have you faced sexism with your entry into this male-dominated field?
Kat: The industry is male dominated, and to be honest has been supportive of our vision to be more inclusive. While we have not experienced sexism directly, we’ve had to educate our partners on how we reach and connect with our consumer, who is 80%+ female.
How do you think being moms has helped you as entrepreneurs?
Kat: You want something done? Give it to a mom! We know how to multi-task like no other which is hugely helpful when starting a business!
Agreed! So where can people buy 21Seeds?
Sarika: We are available nationwide, from Target to Walmart to Whole Foods to Costco to Sam’s club to many other locations! Next time you are in a grocery store or big box store or any store, take a walk down the tequila aisle and if we are not there we are working on getting there! Also be sure to ask for us if you don’t find us—the more people ask the faster we’ll be there! You can easily check out our store locator for your specific zip code on our website 21seeds.com to find a store near you.
What’s next for the brand?
Kat: We joke about doing a reality show, but seriously—we’re busy growing 21Seeds and see a ton of untapped opportunity for our brand.
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