Daymond John:

Hello everybody. I’m the shark Daymond John. And today, we’re Talking Business.

(jazz music)

Welcome everybody. I am Daymond John, and today I have the pleasure of speaking to Kat Hantas of 21 Seeds. And I got to tell you, this is one of my favorite topics because after a long day of work or even, you know, while at work, you gotta take a shot one time or another, just to calm down. So we’re talking about her amazing company, 21 Seeds. So how are you doing Kat?

Kat Hantas:

I’m doing well, Daymond, and I agree with you. There’s always an occasion to have a little bit of tequila, but certainly at the end of the day, for sure. And 21 Seeds fits the bill every time.

Daymond John:

Talk to me about 21 Seeds. Tell me about the company, tell me about yourself, and how’d you come up with it and all that good stuff.

Kat Hantas:

Awesome. Yeah. So 21 Seeds, why does it exist? Well, it really starts about nine years ago, I was a wine drinker. I drank white wine, rosé every night, happily. A couple glasses a night, and then one day it just, it just stopped agreeing with me. I went to my doctor and he actually recommended that I switch from fermented spirits entirely. So no more wine, beer, champagne, nothing fermented, and switch over to a distilled spirit. And I was like, a distilled spirit? And he’s like, yeah, you know, when you’re drinking fermented, there’s a lot of living matter in fermented. That just goes away, when you move over to distilled, it’s a cleaner way to drink. And I think it’s going to take care of all your problems. So, I kind of was hoping he was wrong. I went home, I stopped drinking wine. And within three days I felt a hundred percent better. All my symptoms had disappeared. And now I was sort of left with this blanco tequila and thinking, what am I going to do to this blanco to make it as easy to drink as a glass of wine, and as enjoyable as a glass of wine? I love to cook, and I just started infusing it. And by infusing it with like, real fruit, it actually completely changed it entirely. It smoothed it out. It got rid of that harsh bite of tequila. It made it fresh, smell amazing, like the things I was infusing it with, and it made it really easy to drink. I literally would drink it in a wine glass ’cause I love the ritual of holding the wine glass, with a little club soda and a slice of orange. And I was super, super happy, content, did that for many, many years. So I was noticing this trend of like, people I knew who were looking to drink better for you, lighter, lower carb, less sugar. Were switching from like beer and wine to champagne, over to tequila. And there was no, there was nothing in the tequila aisle that was really speaking to her, and that way of drinking tequila, right? Like prior to that, prior to 21 Seeds coming to market, really in terms of tequila, there were all these new tequilas that have come on the market, all of them, really being marketed like scotches and whiskeys, all to this male consumer. And no one’s speaking to her, and how she was drinking it. And so we decided to turn it into a business.

Daymond John:

It’s definitely not something that’s only appealing to women, I’m sure you can tell us better than that, because I don’t like the hard bite of it. I don’t want to go out and, you know, do a shot. I feel like I want to just enjoy the evening and mellow myself out. And I’m not trying to get somewhere too fast, but I also want a nice refreshing taste. So, but listen, I don’t have to be the only person after your description of it to tell you, I like it. You’ve had Oprah Winfrey has also shouted you out. What was that? What did she say about you and the company?

Kat Hantas:

Yeah, well, thank you for asking, ’cause that was truly one of the highlights. I have been an Oprah fan for 40 years. Like, I love Oprah. And when she put us on her O list, you know, she has her O list, it comes out in her magazine, and these are all the things that are her favorite things. And the cool part about it is, you know, I think a lot of people know Oprah loves tequila. She talks about it quite often. She talks about how, when you come to her house, you start everything off with some tequila. What people may not know is actually, that she actually loves infused tequila. She flavors, you know, she infuses her own tequila. So when our products ended up in her hands, you know, we got a call from the editor and they said, listen, Oprah’s putting you guys on the O list. She had your product. She had the cucumber jalapeno infused tequila. She had it in a skinny margarita, which is just basically a couple ounces of our cucumber jalapeno infused tequila, a teensy bit, half ounce simple syrup, half ounce fresh lime juice. She had it in a margarita, and what they told us was, she couldn’t believe that this tequila hadn’t just been infused, like that week. Like, she thought that we had just made the bottle fresh. So that’s really the big, big difference with 21 Seeds and any other say, quote, unquote, flavored spirit. We hate, we don’t even like using that word because we’re infused, we’re actually infused, is that you can taste the difference. And to get that kind of feedback from her was incredible because she infuses her own tequila. So she knows, she knows what real infused tequila is supposed to taste like. And she thought that we had just infused it the week before. So, that was a really big moment for us. But to your point, Daymond, you know, listen, men love 21 Seeds, too. I know Cam Jordan of the New Orleans Saints is a huge fan of 21 Seeds. Taye Diggs is a huge fan of 21 Seeds. They’ve sent us photos of them drinking the product. It’s really just, you know, when we think about who we’re solving a problem for, we just sort of really think about her first and foremost, she is our default customer. Now, she also controls 70% of the shopping decisions in the household. So she’s bound to bring it into the house, or, you know, if you’re at a, I mean, we’re not really in bars and restaurants yet, it’s starting to happen again. But as we open up again, you know how it is, it’s like, you go out to a bar or restaurant, and nine times out of 10, the girl’s making the decision anyway, you know.

Daymond John:

I gotta tell you, I gotta respectfully disagree with you, I don’t think she’s making 70% of the choices, I think she’s making 99% of the choices. Because if you left the world only with men, we’d be running around here naked, eating beef jerky, and playing football. As you’re talking about it, you can see the smile on your face. You can hear the passion of when you talk about this business and you’re not even talking about the business here. You’re really just talking about the product. You can tell that you love it. So honestly, it’s something that you are doing every single day that you are loving what you’re doing, but with that still, no matter what, you’re operating a business and you have some challenges, and what are the challenges you’re having right now? And I would love to see if I can give you any advice on those challenges.

Kat Hantas:

I do love what I do. I look forward to like, waking up in the morning, looking at all the emails, figuring out what the problems are that need to get solved. And you’re right, we are growing. And one of the interesting problems that we’re facing right now, or challenge is, we really, you know, again, because we were looking to target that female consumer first and foremost, she’s discovering brands online, right? And so we went online to meet her where she was. So, whether that was media that she was reading, or whether she was getting a recommendation through like, Instagram, Facebook, on Pinterest, that’s where we were communicating with her, with our consumer. Well now, we have a very, very high class, great problem, which is we are rolling out into retail big time. We are rolling out into all the chains. So, Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, you know, BevMo!, Total Wine, Lucky, Meijer. I mean, there’s so many. Winn-Dixie, Jewel-Osco like, you name it, we’re going into all the chains, Sam’s club. And so our biggest challenge is sort of, now how do we shift our marketing a bit to get her to think about us not just online, right? Where she sort of thinks we live in this online universe, even though we’re not a direct to consumer brand, we sort of operate like a direct to consumer brand. And she’s used to finding us, asking us where to buy us, all done online. We now need to get her to start thinking about us when she’s shopping at these retail outlets.

Daymond John:

Lack of a better word, you have a champagne problem. You have a tequila problem.

(chuckling)

How do you educate her out there? And that becomes a question. So the first thing to do is how do you have a strategic relationship? And I’m not saying I have the answer for this, but the stores have something that they are trying to appeal to. And if you have a unique story, okay, you have your Bethany’s of the world. And what she did was, they made it the store’s problem. Hey, are you addressing the number one person in the store making the decisions and showing them how you are supporting people who are like them and empowering them? Because of course the stores are going to say, give me money to put you here, give me money to put you there, give me money.

Daymond John:

But sometimes you have to use it to them and say, well, maybe we shouldn’t work with you because we want you to tell a bit of a different story here. So what happens is now they move you up. You got to find a way to get them to move you up because marketing is a black hole. You can spend all your money and they will, the retailers, their job is to sell space. So that’s one question is, how do you get strategic partners to say that we are going to wave the flag for you, that we have you here, ’cause we’re empowering the person that is the decision maker in the store. Now, the other ways are, of course, are talking directly to your customer, and saying to go to the store and ask and/or finding ways to give them incentives. But how do you incentivize her to be your ambassador? Lululemon does a great job at this. They have local influencers who are the great workout person there, be the ambassador there. They may have affiliate marketing dollars or that great influencer, who is an expert in, whether it is working out, whether it is wine, or food. Maybe you find some of them who locally, and they can geotarget. Now, what’s in it for them? Maybe they get an affiliation, if people hit their link, or maybe they prove that they got 21 Seeds to move instead of 400 bottles a week, 600 bottles a week. And they take that and shop it to other brands down the road, or even you, and get rewarded for it. But always try to go externally and get, as I always say, OPM, other people’s marketing or manpower or whatever the case is before you throw dollars at it, because you can easily throw dollars at anything, and you turn around and all of a sudden it’s gone. So those are a couple of things that I would suggest you do.

Kat Hantas:

That’s great advice. And I love the idea of flipping the script on them. That’s, I’ve never heard that before, and it’s a really good idea because they do have, you know, as you know, right, they have initiatives that they’re behind. And right now, especially with supplier diversity, it’s a hot topic. You know, we’re a female minority owned company. So I think that that’s really great advice. Just approaching them and saying, look, what are you guys doing? You know, to sort of get that messaging across and how do we fit into that game plan, and really trying to insert ourselves and get into the conversation. And I love the ambassador program. It’s a great idea. And it’s absolutely something that we’re building out now. So I think we’re going to definitely lean into that more,

Daymond John:

I keep saying it, the easiest thing to sell is the truth. You will have so many ambassadors that want to tell your story, will have a twinkle in their eye, the way that you do, off of your product. You’ve already done the hard lifting. And I think that now you just got to chop away some of those rough edges with the stores and make it their job. It’s their responsibility to support you because mothers and women have been supporting them from the beginning of time. And it’s time to put it on them.

Kat Hantas:

I love that. I’m taking that right to them, for sure. I love it. Great advice.

Daymond John:

So Kat, we talked about all these great strategic partners, right? Your customers, your partners, the stores, influencers, but someone who put us together, which I love, is Chase, and how have you been working with Chase and what products have you been using?

Kat Hantas:

So that’s a great question. And I kind of feel like Chase is part of the family. We use Chase both on our personal side and in the business side. So, they’ve been with us since the beginning. On the personal side, you know, we have our Sapphire card, which I love because I get money back every time I use it. So I very purposely use it all year round, so that at the end of the year, I save up all that money and I get that nice rebate back. And that’s what I use to do all my Christmas shopping. So check the box there, fantastic.

(chuckling)

And then of course, when you know, the three of us, when Nicole and Sarika and I decided to start 21 Seeds, the first place we went to was Chase, and said, hey, listen, we need a business account. We’re starting a business. We’d like a credit card. We’ve never been in the tequila business before. We’re three moms. And they were like, no problem. You know, we’ve got this great relationship with you. We know you guys, and we’d be happy to do it. And we have an incredible, I love our business credit card through Chase. It’s called Ink, I-N-K, which is so clever. And again, we spend, you know, we do all our purchasing through the credit card and we get that nice check at the end, which always helps in cashflow when you are a startup, you know that better than anybody else, every dollar counts. So we’re out there collecting every dollar, wherever we can find it. And Chase has been there from the beginning, really helping us build 21 Seeds into what it is today. Great partner.

Daymond John:

I got to tell you, I am proud of you. I think there’s going to be a lot of young girls, going to look up at you and see how you’ve dominated, or you’re making your name in a man’s industry that is extremely hard to get into, so congratulations on what you’re doing, honestly.

Kat Hantas:

Thank you so much. Thank you. Yeah, no, it is very male dominated and I will just tell you, it is true. Even my daughter, my 10 year old daughter now, she’s like, mom, I’m starting a business. It’s called Sip It and it’s infused water. And I was like, you go girl. So. (chuckling)

Daymond John:

There you go.

Kat Hantas:

Yeah.

Daymond John:

That’s a total win.

END