When drinking tequila, one may not consider the history behind every glass. But for wife and husband duo Nayana and Don Ferguson, legacy is infused into each bottle they produce through their company Anteel Tequila.
When the pair launched Anteel in 2018 in Detroit, the brand not only came out of necessity but wanting to turn dreams into reality. Nayana Ferguson had just gotten laid off, so she asked her husband the golden question: What’s your dream job?
“He said he would own a tequila company, but nobody can do that. We can’t do that. And I was like, why not?” said Nayana Ferguson. “So I set out to prove that I could find the information, that I could get it done, that this is something we could do and I found our distillery two days later. I sent them an email and they emailed me right back. We still work with them to this day.”
Although Nayana and her husband have experience working on the corporate ladder (her husband was VP of Operations at a big financial company) and running businesses, they didn’t have experience in the liquor industry. Their distillery stepped up and helped them throughout the launch process, though.
“I was grateful [they] were open to answering all of our questions,” said Ferguson. “They sent us samples and my husband enjoyed them. We had a tasting party with friends and then we decided which base we would use.”
Thanks to Ferugon’s background as a financial analyst, she came up with a budget for a small launch and together with her husband self-funded their initial launch (after that, they had a funding round from family/friend investors).
When deciding what tequila to sell and how to set themselves apart from other tequila companies, Don Ferguson came up with the idea for the world’s only Coconut Lime Blanco Tequila. They also sell a Reposado tequila aged eight months in charred Tennessee whiskey barrels as well as an unnamed Blanco tequila.
“Our tequilas don’t have any synthetic or added sweeteners,” said Ferguson about what she thinks sets them apart. “I’m a 16-year pancreatic cancer survivor and a ten-year breast cancer survivor. We wanted to make sure we made something I could drink. We also have the first Blanco tequila infused with Tarocco blood oranges grown in Sicily.”
Nayana Ferguson is also the first Black woman to own, co-own or actually lead a tequila company. She does the logistics and operations; Don takes care of social media and marketing and also oversees the sales team.
Although they’ve won many awards and broken down the doors of “firsts” in the industry, they root their business in legacy, faith and most importantly, believing in one’s self.
“We always had the name Anteel in mind to be one of our products and, when we were researching, we found out that the hummingbird signifies legacy,” said Nayana Ferguson. “When you see a hummingbird and it flies over your head, it takes all of your goals and dreams up to God, up to the universe, and something good will happen. That goes with our tagline, ‘Create your legacy.’”
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