Kayla Mason is the co-owner of SipSteady, a PR, marketing, and events agency that works specifically with alcohol-alternative brands and sober-friendly businesses. We've had the pleasure of working with Kayla multiple times over the last six months, and the whole SipSteady team has been a joy to work with. It only made sense to feature her story in this space.
What’s your history with alcohol? What was your relationship with it like before you decided to make a change?
I grew up in Canada where drinking at a young age, at least in the rural cities, was a part life. The drinking age probably affected this as well since the legal limit is eighteen, which meant we wanted to get our hands on it when we were much younger than that! If I could go back, I would tell my younger self to enjoy my childhood a bit longer.
I was never one to blackout or get too “out of control”, but my young adult life was centered around going out and drinking. Every activity you can think of, there would be alcohol involved. I began a career as a Field Engineer working on multimillion-dollar projects in my early twenties. It was a high-stress environment in which getting relief from a drink after work to “deal” with the pressure was applauded and very normalized. It was a rite of passage to be able to drink a lot and handle your liquor with the seasoned workers. I often allude to a time in my career when I was working in California, right on the beach, and the mandatory team-building event was at a hole-in-the wall bar inland.
I knew there was an issue with my surroundings and subconscious patterning, but that was one of many wake-up calls telling me that I was not in the right environment! I did not attend this team building event.
What led to you deciding to change your relationship with alcohol?
At my birthday celebration a couple years ago, my friends went around the circle to say the things that they appreciated about me most. A couple of them mentioned how impressive my stamina with alcohol was, “how much I could throw back for my size”, which was a bit of a surprise since I was on a break from
drinking at the time. Those comments made me take a deeper look at my relationship with alcohol and some friendships, to be honest. I’m a guilty drinker! I “feel bad” about my choice to drink whether it be just one, or ten! The addiction wasn’t necessarily to the substance itself, but to the self-deprecating emotion of
guilt tied to a choice that wasn’t aligned.
What did you hope to get out of altering your use of alcohol?
Clarity and a stronger sense of self.
Has choosing to be more mindful about your drinking had an effect on your life?
Absolutely! After many, many instances of trial and error, I am so much more in tune with my inner voice and the emotions tied to my choices. I don’t have to go through that cycle anymore.
Do you ever feel pressured to drink by other people? What do you do in those sorts of situations?
There are certain situations or friend groups that I find myself unconsciously reaching for a drink. It is such an engrained pattern, having something in my hand, that I stopped putting myself in those situations for some time until I felt like I had formed strong enough boundaries with myself and new habits.
What do you do in those situations where drinking is expected? How do you deal with people questioning why you’re not drinking?
I don’t really feel pressured to drink anywhere that I go anymore! Most people that I know at this point are aware that I’ll be coming through with some tasty NA options in which they want to partake in, most of the time!
I feel lucky that I am typically met with curiosity instead of judgement (in most cases) probably because of what I do with SipSteady, a PR and marketing company focused on alcohol-free brands and sober friendly businesses, that I co-founded.
It has been really interesting to see the dialogue around not drinking change over the years, though. When I was working in engineering, it was almost unheard of not to drink. At the time, it insinuated that you had “a problem”. Now I feel like people are realizing that it is a choice (for some), and it’s getting harder to argue against the effects that reducing your intake can have on your overall wellbeing.