Shay Mitchell Hopes to 'Preserve and Celebrate the History' of Tequila with Her Canned Cocktails
The Dollface star, 34, who serves as co-founder and chief brand officer for Onda Sparkling Tequila, prides herself on working with a woman-owned distillery in what is traditionally a male-dominated space. "[We picked] the distillery that we did, not just because it was woman-owned, but because it was the best one for us," she tells PEOPLE, also acknowledging her female co-founder Kelli Adams.
"And then also knowing that, 'Wow, there's a woman behind this, she's such a boss,'" Mitchell says of Celia Maestri, owner of Casa Maestri distillery in Jalisco, Mexico. "Getting to meet her and hear her story, knowing that she's one of the few [women] that owns her own distillery and also has a woman run it ... is incredible. And I just think, 'why wouldn't there be more women in this space?'"
The Pretty Little Liars alum announced the launch of Onda in July of 2020, releasing the canned cocktails in lime and grapefruit flavors. This summer, the brand is rolling out two new options, blood orange and watermelon.
Mitchell is one of many celebrities who have gone into the booze business, with renewed scrutiny on the industry after Kendall Jenner recently faced accusations of cultural appropriation over an ad for her new 818 Tequila. Although many have criticized Jenner, some have also pointed out that her male counterparts like Dwayne Johnson, George Clooney and Nick Jonas have not faced the same criticisms.
Mitchell does not shy away from the topic, or concerns around the trend of celebrity-backed tequila brands, noting that Casa Maestri is "known for fair labor and production practices, and among the most awarded distilleries in the industry."
"We've been lucky enough to meet with our partner on multiple occasions and experience the traditional tequila making process firsthand," she says. "As a company, we always seek to preserve and celebrate the authenticity and history of this beloved drink and region."
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"I really just wanted to come out with something premium, ready-to-drink, that was something that not just myself, but a lot of people love and enjoy," Mitchell says. "And so that's where Onda was brought to life. I think lifestyle is kind of an overplayed word, but we really just wanted to create a vibe and energy among the people who like it and consume it."
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