These days, the tequila aisle is practically overflowing with options. But there’s something different about the way 21Seeds tequila has navigated through the industry. Put simply: “It’s totally cool,” says Kat Hantas, one-third of the brand’s founding group. When she began subbing out wine for distilled spirits back in 2012, she searched for a tequila that was tasty, naturally flavored, and of premium quality.

When her search came up empty, Hantas took matters into her own hands — turning her infusing hobby into an award-winning, aesthetically pleasing tequila brand. Joined by her sister Nicole Emanuel and friend Sarika Singh, Hantas set out to create a new lane in the flourishing tequila industry. Together, the trio of women — without any prior experience in the drinks industry — went on to create a line of naturally infused tequilas that skyrocketed to popularity and took on a cult following of its own.

Spotting a blank space in an industry widely dominated by men, the co-founders aimed to make their brand a colorful celebration of the tequila they’d long enjoyed making for themselves and their friends. Today, it’s safe to say that 21Seeds has successfully tapped into consumer trends of tequila. Here, Hantas sheds light on how she and her co-founders broke the mold in the tequila industry.

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1. Where did the name 21Seeds come from?

The name was actually pretty simple to come up with and speaks to our relationship and the core of 21Seeds. The “21” portion of the name is really two and one, we’re two sisters, me and my sister Nicole, and one girlfriend, Sarika. The “Seeds” portion represents the natural aspect of our brand and the beginnings, or seeds, of bigger things. Our brand is different from traditional tequila brands, so we really wanted the name to reflect what we’re doing in the industry and celebrate who we are.

2. Did you have experience in the beverage industry before starting 21Seeds?

Absolutely not! None of us came from the spirits and aside from drinking tequila, we were totally outside of the industry. But I think that worked to our advantage in more ways than one. In our previous professions, we were all observers of trends in different creative industries. Coming from the film industry, I was a natural storyteller and was always looking for a creative way to tell a story. My sister Nicole was previously a CFO at Refinery 29 and had a clear sense of where women were discovering brands, and Sarika was an innovator in the culinary world. So although we weren’t working in the beverage industry, we were accustomed to sifting through trends to identify what women like us wanted.

3. What inspired you to create 21Seeds?

I noticed that a lot of my girlfriends were drinking blanco tequila, so I made the switch, too. But no matter which brand I tried, I found them all to be a bit harsh for me. So I began infusing it with different fruits, initially with my trusty Brita. After a while, I started noticing a shift and seeing others around me sipping tequila in a spritz style as I was with my infused creations. (Fun fact: To this day, I still drink our Valencia Orange Blanco Tequila in a wine glass with a splash of club soda and garnished with an orange slice.) Witnessing that shift prompted me to start my own brand, so I reached out to my sister and Sarika and asked them if they wanted to start a tequila company.

4. How important was working with a female-led distillery?

Our first priority was finding a distillery that was making the smoothest blanco tequila. Above all, that was most important so that we could bring a quality product to market. That dedication led us to an award-winning distillery and upon visiting, we saw that most of the team, including the owner, were women. For me, that was serendipitous and a sign that we were on the right path.

5. Let’s talk about the #GirlsCallTheShots motto. How did that come to be?

To me, 21Seeds personifies the spirit of your best girlfriend and how she shows up for you. She’s super funny, witty, smart, and is always curating the good times and fun gatherings. With respect to that, we created the hashtag #GirlsCallTheShots. It’s our nod to the fact that we are female founders and that we care about the things women want. It’s also a constant reminder of what we want to achieve with our brand, such as bringing more women into spirits and the tequila industry — both of which are male-dominated.

6. How has it been working with your sister and close friend?

I love it, and more importantly, I love working with other moms! We all have the same struggles when it comes to schedules and the pressures of being a working mom. So to be part of a team that’s able to understand those day-to-day trials helps things within our company flow much more seamlessly. I love having that comradery and understanding; it’s why I’m such an advocate for diversity in the workplace.

This story is a part of VP Pro, our free content platform and newsletter for the drinks industry, covering wine, beer, and liquor — and beyond. Sign up for VP Pro now!