Today is the first day of Black History Month, a month dedicated to remembering the many black Americans who have helped shape the world we live in. In honor of that, we are kicking it off with a story about a local woman who is making her mark in history.
Nayana Ferguson is the first black woman to co-own a tequila company, but it was not something she initially saw for herself.
As she puts it, she was in the rat race, trying to climb the ladder of corporate America, when her health took a turn for the worse. In 2005 she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, at the time she was a single mother and just 32 years old. Then, in 2012, she found a lump in her breast and was diagnosed with breast cancer. During that time she also found out she had Neutropenia, a disease that lowers her white blood cell count, increasing her risk for infection. All these health scares taught her to slow down, really focus on what is important in life, and discover what her goals really were.
In 2014 she met her husband Don online. They both developed a love of tequila and decided to study it and learn all about it. One time, on a trip to the Dominican Republic, Nayana and Don were discussing investment opportunities and retirement plans. He said he wanted to own a tequila company, but laughed it off as impossible. Nayana, instead, turned to him and asked, “Why not?”
Being a self-described planner, she did her research and found a distillery for them to work with, as all tequila must be made in a specific region of Mexico. They order some samples and set about creating their tequila. In 2018 Anteel Tequila was born. The first two styles they released were the world’s first Coconut Lime Blanco Tequila, and a Reposado which was aged in Tennessee whiskey barrels.
Since initially launching they have won several awards including ones at the World Spirits Competition and at the SIP Awards.
Their tequila is now available locally in many liquor stores, as well as across the country.
To hear her story in her own words, watch the video above.
To learn more about Anteel Tequila, visit their website.