Donta and William Henson want people to savor the taste of their tequila and enjoy the shared experience of trying it together.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, the brothers tried different tequila brands in their spare time. After seeing the popularity of a brand that William regularly posted about on social media, Donta thought: We can do this ourselves.

He started researching how to manufacture tequila, and the brothers flew to Mexico. They tried distilleries and narrowed it down. The Pasadena natives then launched the Black-owned Los Hermanos 1978 Tequila.

“Los Hermanos 1978 Tequila celebrates the spirit of brotherhood, sisterhood and the moments that allow us to slow down and connect meaningfully with those most important to us,” says their website, which touts 20 awards for their product.

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The Baltimore Banner spoke with Donta Henson about the venture.

What made you decide to start your own business?

I saw an opportunity to do something neither my brother nor I had ever done, which excited me. We were used to seeing people who looked like us start small businesses, but rarely were those businesses as unique as ours.

There was also the personal component of seeing an idea I had during the lockdowns of 2020 come to fruition.

What does a day at your business look like?

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My day begins by scanning emails and social media direct messages. I then spend most of the morning reviewing our sales transactions.

After that, I spend 50% of my day responding to or sending emails. We receive a lot of sponsorship/partnership requests between the six markets we’re sold in, [in] addition to the emails that focus on general operations (i.e., accountants, distillery, sales reps, etc.).

What’s your favorite part of your day?

My favorite part of my day is talking with our brand ambassadors and sales reps. These people have the most contact with our customers and retail partners, so keeping track of their feedback is paramount.

Donta Henson holds his tequila, Los Hermanos Tequila, at Lighthouse Canton, July 3, 2024. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

What do you wish people knew about your business or the tequila industry?

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Although we’re in a multibillion-dollar industry, we’re a small brand punching above our weight. The events and activations people see online are only about 10% of the business. The other 90% is consistently tedious and very rarely unrelenting.

What’s your next, biggest goal?

Our next ambition is to have Los Hermanos Tequila be sold in every bar and restaurant in Maryland. It’s beautiful to have our product sold in other states, but there’s no better feeling than walking into a restaurant and seeing your product on the menu or in the back bar.

What are the challenges of doing business in Baltimore/Maryland?

One of our biggest challenges is that the state doesn’t allow us to sell our tequila directly to customers at events. However, there are exceptions for wine and spirits produced here in the state.

When we do events in Maryland, one of the most frequent questions is whether we sell bottles, and the answer must be no. We have to direct potential customers to our website to find their nearest location, and we hope they follow through with a purchase.