We’re excited to see more alcohol businesses coming from the Black community. And we’re curious how this concept came about, so we recently caught up with founder, Rikki Kelly. This driven 26-year-old Fort Worth native started working on Ego Tequila at just 24, while also balancing a career as an accountant. She told us she knew this would be a challenging endeavor since the spirits industry is male-dominated and difficult to begin with, but she was determined to see it through. Call it a healthy dose of ego.
Why tequila, a spirit with so many stringent regulations?
I really enjoy good quality tequila. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of the difficulty. I was dying to be an entrepreneur. But, man, between the TTB, CRT, and TABC — you list the letters and I dealt with them — there have been a lot of lessons learned! Making mistakes is part of being an entrepreneur, and that was definitely the first one.
Do you remember the first tequila you had that changed your idea of the spirit?
To be honest, I was at a bar in Allen and a waiter brought us some high-end tequila shots. How smooth it was really shocked me (in a good way), and I started exploring the spirit further from there.
How does your story and Ego Tequila differ from the celebrity brands we’re seeing pop up?
I was tired of seeing influencers and celebrities just slapping their names on alcohol brands, and it’s so hard for people like myself to break into the industry and stand out. So I wanted to pour myself into making a quality, unique option that really stands out.
Who do you see drinking your bottles?
When I created Ego Tequila, my goals were to make sure it was smooth in quality, approachable for newcomers and tequila loyalists, and out of the ordinary. I believe I understood the assignment.
What inspired your brand and bottle design?
I wanted to incorporate Mexican culture, and I told my designer the elements I wanted, and we worked from them. As I said before, I knew it needed to stand out. And if we get some people hooked because of the beautiful bottle first, then we can retain them as fans with juice.
I like the way that drinking a quality spirit can make someone feel. I feel like a brighter person when I drink great tequila, so I think that my tequila can help bring out the ego in people … in the best way.
Who helped you make Ego Tequila happen?
I couldn’t have done this without my mom. She’s been in my corner since Day 1. She was my first investor and has been my main support system. There wouldn't be an Ego Tequila without her. The funniest part about it is that she doesn’t even drink liquor. And Summer and Carolyn, my publicists out of Austin, offered a lot of guidance and direction every step of the way.
First, I’m looking to expand into other markets. We only launched in Texas — Dallas and Houston — two weeks ago. I’m working on an anejo, of course. And I’m looking into making agave wine. I’d love to bring more awareness to agave wines; no one is talking about it yet. I’m new to the industry, but I’m excited to see what opportunities me and Ego will see in the future. I’m excited for the journey. I think I have the spirit for spirits, so I’m excited to see where I can go!
Ego Tequila is made from 100-percent Blue Weber Agave from both the highlands and lowlands of Jalisco, Mexico, and volcanic spring water and distilled in alembic stills. Bottled at 40-percent ABV, you can find bottles at select North Texas liquor stores. Visit their website, egotequila.com, for distribution. (Blanco Ego Tequila: $29.99. Reposado Ego Tequila: $31.99.)
Tasting profile (provided by Ego): “... hints of citrus and white flowers –– achieved by using both highland and lowland agave. The lowland’s mineral rich, volcanic soil creates earthy and spicy notes. The sugar-rich agaves of the highland region are more delicate in profile, producing notes of citrus and white flowers.”
Update: The original title of this article indicated that Ego Tequila is the first Black-owned Texas tequila. That was incorrect. The title has been updated; Ego Tequila is the first female Black-owned Texas tequila.