Maria Sehlstrom is the co-founder of Mindful Brands, maker of Maria & Craig's, a non-alcoholic CBD spirit. She and her husband Craig also started Ceder's non-alcoholic gin alternatives.
What brought you to non-alcoholic drinking?
When I was pregnant with my first child in 2016 I realised how limited the options of sophisticated non-alcoholic drinks were. I remember thinking that it is insane that we can put a man on the moon but adults who can’t or don’t want to drink alcohol still get offered orange juice or coke as a non-alcoholic alternative in restaurants and at events. Surely, we can do better!
This inspired me to launch my first non-alcoholic spirit, CEDER’S, in 2017. We have since launched a few more brands including Maria & Craig’s non-alcoholic CBD botanical spirit.
Tell us a little bit about how you created Maria & Craig's and how you source your ingredients.
It is actually really difficult to produce high quality non-alcoholic spirits and you encounter completely different challenges compared to producing alcoholic spirits. We always strive to uphold the highest quality standards when we produce our spirits along with great flavour. This is why we individually source and distill or extract all our ingredients to make certain that each one ad as much flavour as possible. It is then also very important to be strict with post production testing so that we make sure that the final product is non-alcoholic and pure.
What's your current go-to non-alcoholic drink?
I love the simplicity of a Maria & Craig’s over ice with premium Indian tonic and a citrus garnish. It is easy to make, sophisticated and very refreshing. The added benefit of the CBD also helps me unwind after a busy day and that ticks all the boxes for me.
What's on the horizon for you in 2022?
Our main focus this year will be to establish our brands in the US. We have seen the rapid growth of non-alc in the UK in the past 5 years with many new brands launching every month but 2022 will be the year when the category takes off in the US in a big way. Fingers crossed.
How do you feel being a woman influences your approach to your business?
I am not sure if this is true for all woman and I don’t want to generalise, but I have always been told that I have a high level of emotional intelligence. I think this is something that I utilise a lot to make the best out of every situation, and to make sure that we partner with the right people and brands. I think that this is something that can make or break business and we would be nothing without our amazing team, suppliers, customers and consumers.
As a mother of 2 little ones I am also forced to be pretty organised and on top of things. One thing that I have learned running your own business it is that good logistics is key to success.
Who is another woman in the non-alcoholic space you admire and why?
For me it is without a doubt Ellie Webb from Caleño. Ellie launched Caleño at the same time as we launched CEDER’S so we have been on the same journey during the past 5 years. She is such an inspiring entrepreneur, really knowledgeable and passionate about the non-alc space but more importantly she is really kind and always positive - a real power woman.