Q+A: Mairi Shewfelt, founder and CEO of Yatta Brands


Mairi Shewfelt, founder and CEO of Yatta Brands, a London, Ontario-based shop focused on cruelty-free, vegan, organic, and eco-friendly products, talks about the benefits of cutting down on alcohol consumption and shares why Sobrii is her go-to non-alcoholic spirit for cocktails. 

What initially inspired you to reduce your alcohol consumption?

I've had cancer and so I'm careful about what I put in my body. That was definitely a big part of it because people who are recovering from cancer have low immunity. Having a healthy diet also plays a big part for me.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in yourself since cutting back on alcohol?

You definitely sleep better. You also look better. You don't look as tired and haggard. When you reach that 40-year mark and you go out and you have three or four glasses of wine or gin and tonics, it affects you differently and you feel sluggish. You just don't feel that great.

How did you discover Sobrii?

I was looking for an alternative beverage. I had lived in the UK and there are loads of non-alcoholic spirits on the market there for people who don’t want to have an alcoholic beverage because they're driving or because of health reasons. But there didn't seem to be many options here in Canada.

I tried all of the Seedlip ones and they're okay, but they're not exactly what a spirit should be in my opinion. By chance, I came across Sobrii and I tried it. We had a big family gathering and I served it and everyone was like: “Wow, what is this? This is non-alcoholic? This tastes so great.”

What do you like about Sobrii?

What I love about Sobrii is that it’s versatile. You can make it into a gin and tonic or if you wanted to add a bitter, you can add bitters to it.

When you're out, you want to be able to have a nice drink. You don't want to always be offered a coke or a sugar-filled mocktail. You want to be able to have a proper drink that’s not high in calories and Sobrii gives you that option.

What’s your favourite cocktail to make with Sobrii?

My favourite way to serve it is with Double Dutch tonic. I also made a Sobrii cocktail for an event recently with watermelon and cantaloupe. We put a little bit of tonic water in it and soda water and it gave it just enough effervescence.

What inspired you to carry Sobrii at Yatta Brands?

I loved it so much that I wanted to be able to stock it in my vegan, non-toxic store. My store is known to have stuff that is different: niche products and luxury products.

As a retailer, Sobrii brings people in. I had some people from the University of Western Ontario come into the store two weeks ago and say they had tried Sobrii at an event and they knew they could buy it at my place. They come and they buy it and they say: “This is something that has to be in my liquor cabinet. When I have a party, I want to be able to offer people a non-alcoholic beverage that tastes really good that’s not a soda.”

I know a lot of people want to stop having chemicals in their food products. For me, having a product like Sobrii means offering a high-quality, healthy product that doesn't have all of the toxins in it that you would get if you were to have a soda pop instead.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a life with less alcohol?

If you're someone who wants to switch, pick your favourite cocktail and just substitute Sobrii for the alcohol. Honestly, people who I’ve sold this to who are traditional gin and tonic drinkers, they’ve come back and said: “We love it. We didn’t fall asleep on the sofa after having a couple of cocktails in the afternoon. We didn't wake up with a hangover.” It’s life-changing.

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