Anteel Tequila was founded by Nayana Ferguson, the first Black woman to co-own a tequila company, alongside her husband Don Ferguson, in Metro Detroit.

Nayana, who is a 17-year pancreatic and breast cancer survivor, is constantly looking for healthier spirit options. Since launching, Anteel has now grown to generate nearly a quarter of a million in sales. They’ve also received 50 awards.

There are four expressions: the world’s only Coconut Lime Blanco, a Reposado aged in TN whiskey barrels, a Blanco Tequila, and a Tarocco Blood Orange Blanco.

Now with Atlanta as their home, Anteel is excited to continue growing the company and connecting with the local community.

For more information on Anteel Tequila, visit https://teeqspirits.com/

Anteel Tequila was founded by Nayana Ferguson, the first Black woman to co-own a tequila company, alongside her husband Don Ferguson, in Metro Detroit. Photo courtesy of Anteel Tequila

The Atlanta Voice: Why did you decide to start your business?

Nayana Ferguson: I decided to start my business alongside my husband, Don Ferguson, because as a couple, we’ve grown to love tequila! As a 17-year pancreatic and 10-year breast cancer survivor, I’m always looking for healthier alternatives to cocktails with sugary mixers. While Anteel Tequila tastes great in any cocktail recipe, we created our own spirit so people can learn to enjoy tequila without any additional mixers. We created our award-winning brand, based on our love for tequila and wanting to bring something new to the industry. Throughout this journey, we found out that I was the first Black woman to own or co-own and lead a tequila company in the United States, we’ve launched four tequila expressions and we’ve gone on to win over 50 awards for our brand.

AV: Was there a moment that inspired you to start this business?

NF: My husband and I wanted more in life than the same old corporate, 9-to-5, lifestyle. We looked at investment opportunities, but nothing stood out, as it just wasn’t exciting. We discussed businesses often, but nothing really stuck against the wall until one day I asked him if there was anything in life he could do, if money was not a concern, what would you do? He replied he would want to own a tequila company. After multiple discussions, I found a distillery in two days that we could work with and the process, a lengthy one, began there.

AV: Is there a mentor in your life that inspired/inspires you as a business owner?

NF: Sadly, there truly isn’t. When I was young, I grew up in a very dysfunctional home that was filled with domestic abuse as well as substance abuse. At an early age, I had to rely on myself quite a bit so it positioned me to work hard for everything I’ve achieved, knowing I have no limitations on what I can do.

NF: What truly inspires me is beating cancer twice. I know overcoming pancreatic cancer and breast cancer is truly something special and it made me realize that I’m still here for a reason. My motivation is to be the best version of myself and inspire others around the world. This doesn’t just adhere to business, but in life as well. I want to inspire others that may be going through cancer and show them that, with the right mindset, anything is possible. I want to motivate people with a dream of owning their own business one day but lack the capital to do so and show them it can be done. Most of all, I want to be a mentor and a role model to my daughters and provide them with the love, support, and guidance that I didn’t have. These are the things that help me push forward every single day.

AV: What are your business goals for the remainder of the year?

NF: It’s amazing that 2022 is just about over. This is the busiest time for us in the spirits industry and we have a phenomenal team that is growing the brand in Georgia as well as the additional states Anteel Tequila is distributed in. Truly, right now we’re already discussing 2023 as we have some amazing things developing that will drive brand visibility, expand into additional markets, and secure placement in more locations in the states we’re already distributed in. Our goal from day one was to create a tequila brand from the ground up that would challenge conventional thinking and show that if you want anything bad enough, you can absolutely achieve it.

AV: Any advice to future business owners about taking the plunge?

NF: Learn all you can about the industry you are in and be open to mentoring or consulting from others who may already be in your industry. Taking on a mentor or consulting can help build trust, credibility, and authority in the industry and build great relationships. Also, it’s very hard to not get overwhelmed or “burned out”, especially when your business is something that you love. You have to create a balance for yourself. I would recommend anyone starting a business to create a culture that allows themselves to take time away from work. Taking a walk, getting outside, meditating, or taking time to exercise can make a very impactful difference.