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Entrepreneur Chat

#GirlsCalltheShots (we're talking tequila shots)

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Every business idea begins somewhere. For Kat Hantas, her new tequila label 21seeds began innocently enough: when she, per her nutritionist’s orders, switched from drinking wine and beer to white liquors, like tequila. Which led to infusing her tequila with fruit flavors. Which led to gifting her homemade batches to friends—and her friends demanding more.

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Fast forward to 2019 and the launch of 21seeds, which she co-founded with her sister Nicole Emanuel and pal, Sarika Singh. The name, in fact, refers to the trio: two siblings and one friend. Not only is the company female run, it employs an all-female distillery out of Mexico too. Here, we chat with Hantas about getting a start-up off the ground—the highs, the lows—and, of course, share some of her favorite cocktail recipes for a sun-kissed summer. 

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21seeds is...
We are an all-natural, real fruit-infused tequila. In order to really infuse as opposed to simply flavor our tequila, we had to build custom refrigeration at our distillery to house our perishable ingredients and figure out a way to filter the fruit out. That was the real challenge, but the result is an all-natural, fresh fruit-infused tequila that still looks like tequila, is smooth and not sweet like most flavored spirits on the market that use high fructose corn syrup, smells fresh and bright and tastes incredible. We start with a proprietary blend of agaves from the lowland and highland regions of Jalisco, Mexico, to create a super-smooth Blanco base allowing the fruit to truly take center stage.

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But above else…
21seeds is more than about the product. We really want to bring to life our mantra, #GirlsCallTheShots. We are female founded (me, my sister Nicole Emanuel, and our BFF, Sarika Singh) in a male-dominated industry. We are female distilled, partnering with the most celebrated female-owned (and run-) distillery in Mexico. We created our product and packaging to appeal to the female consumer, providing an element of stylish and welcoming approachability in the overtly machismo tequila aisle. We want our female consumer to open a bottle, gather their friends, share stories and have a great time.

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What was the inspiration behind the launch?
I was trying to recreate a feeling. A feeling of hanging in my backyard with my friends, listening to our playlists on Spotify, drinking the cocktails we wanted the way we wanted them (clean, smooth and not sweet with a ton of extra sugar no one wanted!), connecting. Easy, not complicated, true moments of joy. The thing bringing us all together was my homemade all-natural infused tequila. It made making those perfect drinks easy, delicious and quick, allowing everyone to get back to the important stuff: the fun. 
I created 21seeds because it’s what my girlfriends and I wanted to drink. We were moving away from wine and beer—too many calories, too much yeast and the tannins were all leaving us feeling crappy at night and not productive in the mornings. We wanted something smooth, clean and simple, with a hint of fresh, all-natural but not sweet flavor that made drinking tequila delicious and enjoyable without any guilt. 
Before 21seeds was a brand, it was just a couple of bottles infused in my kitchen with things I had on hand. Cucumbers, jalapeños, oranges, and grapefruit all worked in cocktails, so why not just add them straight to the tequila? My hunch turned out to be right. I’d bring a bottle to a party, and before long we’d all be sitting around the table with some limes, sipping tequila, sharing stories and laughing at old jokes. Friends asked for bottles of their own, and they shared them with their friends. What began as one bottle turned into dozens… and eventually a new beginning.

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"21seeds is more than about the product. We really want to bring to life our mantra, #GirlsCallTheShots. "

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Best part about owning your own business?
Doing what you love. I’m a taste perfectionist. I am passionate about creating the perfect cocktails. I am also a very social person. 21seeds brings to life what really drives me. I love getting notes from friends saying that they brought a bottle of 21seeds to a house party and how it immediately created a fun and festive atmosphere.

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And the most challenging part?
Balancing work and home life. Building a company is very exciting and all consuming. You can’t help but think about it all the time. You want to respond to any questions or issues immediately; you cannot help it. Trying to balance that while also trying to be present for your spouse and kids is tough at times. Especially if you are returning to the workforce like myself, after having taken some time off to raise the kids. It’s like a muscle that needs to be retrained and that transition can cause a lot of chaos and anxiety. I am constantly reminding myself there is only so much one person can do in a day. I also find it incredibly helpful to talk to other women who have gone back to work to get their advice on tools that work.

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Top tip every would-be entrepreneur should know?
You cannot build it alone. Pick really smart partners whom you like and respect and stay out of their lane. That is the secret to the success of 21seeds: working with my sister and our genius friend. Not only are they some of the smartest people I know, but we trust that each one is taking care of what they should be doing and that saves a lot of time and needless headache that can be used being productive.

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And top tip every tequila enthusiast should know?
Make every cocktail count. Too many tequila drinks (including margaritas) have sugary mixes and over-complicated recipes. A great tequila drink should be simple, pure, taste amazing and never substitute for fresh lime. 

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Cocktail Recipes

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SPICY SKINNYSEED MARGARITA

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Ingredients
1.5 oz 21 Seeds Cucumber Jalapeño Tequila
1/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
1 tsp fresh ginger
1.5 oz club soda

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Directions
Place all ingredients into shaker with 1.5 cups of ice. Shake 30 seconds (totally underrated and makes the cocktail), pour into a glass. Garnish with a lime and/or cucumber slice and serve.

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Optional: 
Rub rim of glass with lime wedge and salt the rim. 
Add club soda to make it a margarita spritz.

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JALISCO MULE

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Ingredients
1.5 oz 21 Seeds Cucumber Jalapeño Tequila
1/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
1 tsp fresh ginger
1.5 oz club soda

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Directions
Place ginger and tequila into shaker and let sit for a minute.
Add lime, simple syrup and ice.
Shake 30 seconds (totally underrated and makes the cocktail) then pour club soda into shaker. Strain into a glass filled with ice.
Garnish with a lime and/or cucumber slice. 

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SKINNYSEED PALOMA

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Ingredients
1.5 oz 21 Seeds Grapefruit Hibiscus Tequila
1.5 oz fresh grapefruit juice (pink is prettiest)
2 oz club soda

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Directions
Place all ingredients except club soda into shaker with ice. Shake 30 seconds (totally underrated and makes the cocktail). Pour club soda into shaker. Then strain everything into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with a grapefruit and sprig of basil.

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Optional: 
Rub rim of glass with lime wedge and salt half the rim with Tajin Clasico seasoning salt and garnish with lime.