Yola Jimenez has had a hand in making mezcal cool. The Mexican businesswoman and founder of Yola Mezcal recalls a time when the drink was thought of as a “peasant drink,” and wasn’t available anywhere in Mexico City.
Jimenez grew up in Mexico, recalling a culture that diminished their country. “You were told that you were growing up in a third world country, and that there were places where people [were] more civilized, or [where there] were a lot more opportunities, and where things were better,” she said in conversation with Vogue. She then moved to London and New York, where got a degree in Women’s Studies, and then found herself back in Mexico. It was there where she opened her first Mezcal bar in her hometown of Oaxaca, using her grandfather’s secret recipe (from 1971).
She founded Yola Mezcal with the help of two women: Swedish singer Lykke Li and Gina Correll Agliett. Their influence seeped into the structure of the remainder of the company, made up of women in all sorts of positions, from factory workers to farmers.
“It kind of just blew up,” said Jimenez of mezcal’s popularity in an interview with Courier. But her business isn’t only about mezcal; it’s about women and providing them with the right opportunities.
“It’s important to have women in positions of power and making these economic decisions, because we focus on different things to men.”
The brand has been featured in top publications from the NY Times and Vogue to national TV programs. According to the Financial Times, the three women support are committed to supporting Oaxaca and women’s rights. “It’s bottling facility, for instance, is almost entirely run by local women in order to grant financial independence to those already involved in the process.”
Yola Mezcal has grown rapidly over the years, cultivating thousands of followers over social media and partnerships with all forms of chefs, festivals and events. Yola Mezcal drinks are served in luxurious hotels in some of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. When discussing her business’ ventures, Jimenez explains that while fun is important, there’s a social and a fundraising backbone to all of these partnerships. “Yes, we host fun parties, but we’re always trying to tie it up to something thoughtful,” she said.
In addition, Yola Mezcal created a festival in L.A. which showcases female-identifying musicians, artists, chefs and activists. A caption in an Instragram post celebrating the anniversary of their festival, YOLA Día, said: “We created YOLA Día to be an environment of inclusivity, a place to inspire change, and a celebration of talented pioneers. We are excited about everything we have in store for you.” This year, their line up included one of their founders who is also a musician, Lykke Li, along with Courtney Love, Megan Thee Stallion, Cat Power and more.