The spirits industry is not an easy field to enter as a female entrepreneur. As a woman of color, the barrier to entry becomes even more challenging. For Nayana Ferguson, those obstacles were only heightened by her lack of experience within the industry. Despite the hardships, they didn’t stop Ferguson from teaming up with her two co-founders, her husband Don Ferguson and Mike Rowold, from opening a premium tequila brand based in Detroit.
Ferguson founded Teeq Tequila in 2018 by combining her savvy business sense with her passion for tequila. While the brand only has three tequilas currently on the market, the company has still managed to garner a lot of attention, receiving bronze and silver medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition this year. To start her business, she traveled to Mexico to find the perfect distillery for the products.
“Tequila is a highly regulated spirit and to build a tequila brand from the ground up, it can be challenging at times. In order to have true 100% Blue Weber Agave Tequila, we had to partner with a distillery in Mexico to make our brand,” said Ferguson in an interview with Forbes. “Once we found a distillery, several contracts had to be negotiated and approved by both the Mexican and US governments. After that approval process, we started sampling the tequila, picking out bottle designs, corks, tops, labels, etc. all with various approval processes.”
The road to opening her tequila brand was rough—especially as a black woman—but Ferguson didn’t allow the adversity to deter her. “I have noticed that sometimes there is a wall up with people in the industry initially when they meet me,” says Ferguson. “However, when I start speaking about Teeq and people hear my passion, those walls come down. Most spirit industry people are surprised that I know so much about tequila and I end up educating them, which is refreshing.”