Sheela Marshall and Natalie Merrick founded Tequila Sheela, a tequila company, in 2014. 

Sheela’s always had a passion for tequila. When she went to India to visit her mother, she paid $35 for a shot of tequila at a hotel. She didn’t like it and she thought she could create a better tequila. She did research and found out that India consumed a lot of alcohol. That sparked her interest in starting a tequila company to import tequila to India.

Sheela shared the idea with her best friend Natalie and they decided to launch Tequila Sheela together.

But India turned out to be a much more difficult market than they anticipated. So, they turned their efforts on marketing their brand in Texas.

“We have a very clean tequila, it’s sourced from a single plant, the blue agave,” Merrick said.

Tequila Sheela also doesn’t use any pesticides or chemicals on its plants or in the processing of its Tequila, and it is certified organic, Merrick said.

And in 2016, Tequila Sheela won a double gold medal for its Sheela Reposado Tequila, and Silver Medals for its Sheela Blanco Tequila and Sheela Anejo Tequila in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. 

That is quite an accomplishment and something Tequila Sheela is proud of, Marshall said. The organic tequila is made on a small family farm in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. It took years for Marshall and Merrick to negotiate the business and launch the brand but since they launched they have found great success in the Texas market. 

And before they named the brand, Tequila Sheela, they did not know Country Singer Bobby Bare had a Tequila Sheila song about an outlaw in Mexico who dons a dress to get away from the Federales with the popular refrain “Pour me another tequila, Sheila.”  Sheela hopes to meet him one day – perhaps at Luckenbach.

The two female founders have faced many challenges in growing the business and increasing brand awareness, but they’ve also had quite a few big wins in the process. Tequila Sheela is available through Total Wine & More, and other retailers as well as bars and restaurants. 

One of the biggest challenges is it’s hard to get people to believe that two women own a tequila company, Merrick said. Tune in to the full podcast on Ideas to Invoices to learn more about their entrepreneurial journey.