Given that necessity is often the mother of invention, and given our affection for margaritas, we think Cat Hawkins, co-founder of Sin<less Cocktails is about as smart as they come. We discovered her low-calorie, all-natural mixer in the not too distant past, and when we learned she was also an Atlantan, we couldn’t wait to invite her to be a StyleBlueprint FACE. We love women who solve problems, which is precisely what Sinless Cocktails does (on many levels), and we’re thrilled Cat joins us today!
Tell us about Sin<less Cocktails.
Sinless Cocktails was started over Mexican food when my best friend and I realized we haven’t had a margarita in a really long time because they were so loaded with sugar and calories. Not being able to enjoy a margarita is just wrong for me because I grew up on the killer margaritas my dad made (which is what the taste of Sinless is based off of). So in that conversation, the idea for my company was born. We met up with my husband that night and told him of our idea: to make a healthy, low calorie margarita that actually tasted REAL! He loved it and, as a serial entrepreneur, told us if we came up with a product he would help launch our idea. With that, I started up in the kitchen and the taste testing began until I had the perfect recipe.
What do you spend most of your time doing for Sin<less?
As a small business owner, you have your hands in everything. But my main job is to make every batch (it is a secret recipe after all!) and taste it to make sure it is up to Sinless standards before it is sent into the production line.
You had many conversations with people in the beverage industry that your product would only work if it was a shelf-stable beverage mix. How hard was it to stick to your gut and create the kind of product you believed in?
This was a really tough decision and still is a challenge everyday, but we just weren’t willing to sacrifice the quality of ingredients and refused to use artificial ingredients and preservatives. So in the end, we decided to leave it up to our customers to decide if they would buy a refrigerated mixer and so far they love it as much as we do!
What is your favorite Sin<less mix?
The original—it’s my baby!
Are you dreaming of any new flavors?
We are always coming up with new ideas for flavors and mix-ins. We are working on a shelf-stable line that will hopefully hit the market in 2014! It has a mix of real cane sugar and stevia to keep the sugar and calories low, but enough sugar to make our product shelf stable. It is what we like to call “sin-light.”
You started Sin<less with your husband, Zach. Do you ever have a hard time separating your personal and working relationship?
This was definitely a challenge in the beginning of our company. So I knew immediately we needed to set some boundaries before it got the best of us. Now we have weekly date nights and try to shut down work around 8 p.m. (although that rarely happens!). But we are in a great place where we have learned not to let the business get the best of us and to most importantly just enjoy each other!
Do you have a mentor who has helped guide you?
This would hands down be my dad. In his 30 plus year career, he successfully led a large corporation and has truly been an inspiration. Whenever we have questions or need advice, he always gives us his full attention and helps us decide on the right path. He has truly been invaluable.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone who is starting their own business?
There are a lot of highs and just as many lows, but nothing can beat the feeling of seeing something you created being enjoyed by a complete stranger. One of the most important things to do before you start your business is to define what you view as success. To me, success is putting yourself out there regardless of the outcome. So no matter where Sinless takes us in the end, I already feel like we have been successful.
What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
The ultimate Saturday night for me is picking up dinner from somewhere and renting a movie. Being able to snuggle on the couch eating a good meal and watching a movie is rare for our fast paced lifestyle so we enjoy every second of it!
What are some of your favorite neighborhood restaurants?
There are so many amazing restaurants, which is why I love Atlanta, and I keep finding more and more that I love! Lotta Frutta has to be my number one lunch place. I love going to downtown Decatur and going to Leon’s or No. 246. Local Three is always fresh and delicious! Tin Lizzy’s, of course, because I love their chips and of course drinking Sinless margaritas! I also love Noche’s fantastic tapas and they make great Sinless margaritas too.
What are some of your favorite things about living in Atlanta?
I love all the local restaurants that really care about what they are serving their customers. The food trucks also have to be in my favorites because you can get a little bit of everything from each one! I also love all the festivals that come in the summer time, where you can relax, eat some good food and listen to great music.
What are you reading right now?
I am a sucker for fantasies and science fiction and anything that has a series. Currently, I am wrapped up with the Beautiful Creatures series.
How do you like to spend your free time away from the office?
I love to exercise so I always take my dog on walk or run … she is Weimaraner so she makes sure I don’t forget! If I am not exercising, then I am cooking up a storm in the kitchen—another thing I love to do, which my husband is very grateful for.
What are three things that you can’t live without (besides God, family, and friends):
Exercise, a Sin<less margarita, and coffee
Thanks, Cat! To learn more about Sin<less Cocktails visit the website: www.sinlesscocktails.com.
And thank you to Amy Lesesne for today’s beautiful photographs.