Create & Cultivate 100: Food: Yola Mezcal

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Forget yolo, this year it's all about Yola. 

Lykke Li, Yola Jimenez and Gina Correll makeup the co-founders of Yola Mezcal, the Oaxaca-based brand that is creating opportunity for economic independence in San Juan del Rio.

It is handcrafted, distilled on the namesake farm, bottled BY WOMEN (HELL YES!), with a recipe passed down from Yola's grandfather. In 1971, Luis Jimenez purchased a mezcal farm in San Juan del Rio, Oaxaca. At present, the trio honor his OG recipe and preserve the 300-year-old method of traditional mezcal making. They're also committed to making their process more sustainable. 

They're keeping it family and they're keeping it real. However they are breaking from tradition in one major way. Yola's bottling facility in Oaxaca employs only women and they pay their workers a living wage. 

We'll cheers to that. 

Drink up more of Yola's goodness below. 

Names: Yola Jimenez, Lykke Li, Gina Correll Aglietti

Instagram Handle: @lykkeli  @ginacorrell

Business Instagram Handle: @yolamezcal

How did the three of you meet?

Lykke: I met Gina under the stars in the Hollywood Hills and Yola at a house party in Mexico City.

Yola: I met both of them in Mexico City over the past decade. We drank mezcal in both occasions and became instant friends and from those nights two of the must important and rewarding friendships of my life began.

Gina: I met Yola ten years ago when she was opening La Clandestina, her bar, in MX City. I met Lykke ten years ago when she was playing one of her first shows in Los Angeles. They met subsequently and coincidentally in Mexico City and the three of us have been friends ever since.

At what point did you know, let's launch a biz! And let's do it together?

Lykke: Gina and I lived together in Laurel Canyon and Yola would come stay with us--  we became quite excellent at throwing a party in between my DJing, Gina's cooking, and Yola's mezcal. One day thought, this is exactly it, let's bottle this, name it Yola and bring the best atmosphere possible and most importantly surround ourselves with like-minded women. We, of course, have grown out of that simple state of mind and are now mostly interested in creating opportunities for women in Oaxaca while preserving a completely artisanal mezcal.

Yola: We began by having dinners at the house that Gina and Lykke shared in LA. 
I would bring mezcal from Mexico, Gina would cook and Lykke would play music. They were magical nights that we wanted never to end.  We all loved mezcal and were committed to keeping the traditional methods of production intact. On one of these magical nights it hit us that we should create Yola mezcal which would encapsulate these ideas as well as the feminist ethical practices that have been lacking for so long in the alcohol business.

"Feminist ethical practices have been lacking for so long in the alcohol business."

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Gina: In the beginning of our friendship, Yola would come stay with Lykke and I in LA. The three of us would spend a lot of time together drinking Mezcal, throwing dinner parties, and sharing ideas about what it meant to be modern women. We realized there was an undeniable synergy between us, we had an amazing product at our fingertips, and a common vision and voice.

Yola, your grandfather's passion was mezcal. At what point did you realize it is also yours?

Yola: When I inherited the farm and begun to understand the amount of work, talent and sophistication it took to make and how it was a beautiful tradition we had in Mexico that needed showcasing.

Where do your (respective) drive and passion come from?

Lykke: Whatever makes me feel alive; whether it's music, food, travels-- and of course the sweet burn of Yola.

Yola: The women that work on our farm.

Gina: I grew up on a farm in Ojai, which sparked my passion for food and sustainable farming practices. My father was a music producer. So, I was constantly surrounded by great food and music... both are now the cornerstone of my career.


What are your (respective) biggest pet peeves?

Lykke: Gold!

Yola: Unkindness

Gina: Excessive use of plastic and wasted produce.

What are your biggest fears about running a business together?

Lykke: That it can take away from our friendship, but at the same time there is no one else I rather have by my side then these two badasses.

"There is no one else I rather have by my side then these two badasses."

Yola: That we could ever disappoint the women that work for us.

Gina: The biggest have been overcome.

How can we stay original when we are so saturated by other people's work?

Lykke: Don't even look to what other people are doing but simply follow your own inspiration.

Yola: By not measuring our achievements by the ones of others.

Gina: Every time it feels like we're becoming apathetic or there's too much noise, the three of us regroup and usually find sincere inspiration.

What about your careers make you feel the most complete?

Lykke: To see the community of women we've built around us, all so strong, complex and unique.

Yola: When we hire more women on the company.

Gina: A sense that the product we're putting out into the world is something I believe is bringing people joy, while maintaining integrity. As well: employing women that I find talented and complex and giving them an opportunity to explore and grow within the company.

If you (respectively) had to trade jobs with anyone else in the world, who would it be and why?

Lykke: I could spend all day at flea markets bargaining.

Yola: Siri Hustvedt because she reads about everything.

Gina: I don't want to trade!

You all come from very different backgrounds. At what point in your careers did you find the confidence to really take charge and become the women you are today?

Lykke: I try to find it everyday, it's a process, you do things because you simply cannot not do them and then try to gather some strength and acceptance along the way.

Yola: I could do that early on in my life because I've had the luck to be born in a place with choices and access to education which unfortunately is rare for women in my country.

Gina: 1. I read an article when I was young where a girl I looked up to said: 'life is short, work with your friends". 2. In my early thirties I experienced a lot of personal loss, and I realized I need to do something meaningful with the time I have here.

What's the best advice you've each ever been given? Or your favorite piece of #realtalk?

Lykke: To be an artist is to always be dissatisfied

Yola: Don't take anything for granted and be graceful.

Gina: Lykke told me early on in our friendship - "if you don't know exactly what you want how are you gonna get it"

When you hit a big bump in the road, how do you find a new road or a detour?

Lykke: A shaman in Mexico told me; just redesign, redesign!

Yola: A detour almost always, I was told many times that the things that I wanted would never happen, like working in the alcohol business being a women, even it has been complicated many times I was never deter.

Gina: Make sure you have a get away car.

What song do you each sing in the shower when you’ve had a bad day?

Lykke: "Passion Fruit" by Drake

Yola: "La Maza" by Mercedes Sosa

Gina: "What's Love Got to do With It" by Tina Turner.