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How this sparkling startup is chilling out millennials one drink at a time with Sweet Reason Founder Hilary McCain

by Female Startup Club
October 17th 2020
00:44:23
Description

Joining me on the show today is the founder behind Sweet Reason. Sweet Reason is a hemp and cannabis beverage company that exists to calm your mind. The company is focused on bringing the health an... More

doing here, we're in month two of being part of the hubspot podcast network and I wanted to take a second to shout out another incredible women lead podcast, Being boss with Emily Thompson, if you're a creative business owner or thinking about becoming one. Being boss is an exploration of not only what it means, but what it takes to be a creative business owner, freelancer or side hustler, I loved Emily's episode on taking time off as a business owner, it's definitely a really challenging part of running your own business and I recommend giving it a listen, check out, being boss wherever you get your podcasts. This is Hillary McCain for female startup Club mm Hey everyone and welcome back to another episode of female startup Club, I'm your host, Junior Machine and joining me on the show today is the founder behind Sweet Reason. Hillary McCain Sweet Reason is a hemp and cannabis beverage company that exists to calm your mind, the company is focused on bringing the health and calming benefits of CBD into the mainstream by offering consumers clean beverages that are truly healthy and taste delicious.

Think of Sweet reason as your guide to present mornings, productive afternoons and restful evenings with their core line of award winning sparkling waters and brand new evening blend beverages in this episode we cover Hillary's Sweet Reason to launch her in biz and what got her into the startup vibe in the first place, innovating in the CBD space to create something that she really wanted for herself and something super exciting, she's just launched this week and remember to subscribe to the show. So you'll receive our episodes with the world's most exciting female founders every week we have so many cracking guests coming up over the next few months and you absolutely don't want to miss them. This is Hillary for female startup club. Mhm. It's safe to say that most of us have been doing more online shopping lately, right? And if you're any commerce brand, that means you might be seeing more first time customers. But once they've made that first purchase, how do you keep them coming back?

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We currently have an introductory offer on the website for $149 And $30 from every sale is proudly donated to the Malala Fund, a charity that's working towards a world where every girl can learn and lead female presence. Mhm. Hi Hillary, thank you so much for being on female side of club today. I'm so excited to have you here. Hae joon. Thanks for having me. I want to go back to your life before. Sweet reason and what you were doing and what made you want to start a business in the first place. Yeah. Uh it's, it's a long back story. I guess I was, had just come back to my hometown. I was had just graduated from business school and I moved back to Toronto to do something called a search fund, which was my plan post business school. Um you know, for many, many years a search fund is essentially entrepreneurship through acquisition. Um So you are looking for a business to buy instead of start one, you're looking for like an old boring, you know, manufacturing business, think like a chocolate plant or bread plant.

That's so cool. Yeah, I was looking for a food or consumer business to buy in Canada and it's, I mean I describe it as like sort of a mini form of private equity. You're you're looking for a business to buy from a baby boomer. Typically that's looking to retire and they don't have anybody to sell their business too because the business is too small for private equity to care about. Um And so you, you buy it backed by investors and a whole lot of bank debt and you take over the business and it's a way to become an entrepreneur without having to start a business. It's a, it's a really popular path post business school these days, I've never heard of that term before. That's so cool. Yeah, yeah. Search fund, it's like, it's um, it's definitely becoming a really, as I said, popular thing, post business school, my husband actually did it um as well, and so it was like a, and it's something I had wanted to do for a while, I really never thought that I would start a business. I have some entrepreneurs in my family and they, you know, I sort of grew up with them saying like definitely never start a business, it's like a really tough path.

Um and so I, I, you know, I always thought it was just so risky I guess, but when I was looking for a business to buy, I would inevitably, like my, my days were essentially cold calling a lot of food companies or consumer companies in Canada and I would end up, you know, looking up like honey companies in Canada, you know, and I'd end up like reaching out to these startups, like I didn't, you don't know how big businesses by their website, right? So, um I ended up having a couple more and more start up conversations conversations with startup founders and I really sort of, I had this like come to jesus moment where I realized that I thought I didn't want to start a business, but I was so excited about growth, like the main thing that excited me was growing a business and growth and growth oriented businesses are not the ones that you would buy in a search fund, those are like very slow growing businesses and that's why the bank will give you so much debt to fund them um to fund the purchase.

Um but I was so excited about like, yeah, the potential for growth and and all like the newness and I was always really into health and wellness and food and you know that in the health and wellness and food industry is changing so much like you, you really have to be eager to grow fast, so, so I, I sort of got bit by the startup bug and then um at the same time, I, all my mentors and advisors from the food industry which I had worked in and grew up in were really being poached by major cannabis companies in Canada. So this was around 2016, in 2017, Cannabis legalization was on the horizon, recreational legalization was on the horizon in Canada and I talked to a friend of mine who had, who had just moved over to a cannabis company and I basically became in the summer of 2017 obsessed with the future of cannabis beverages, I found that a lot of people that were working in the industry didn't have food industry experience, a lot of them didn't really have much cannabis consumption experience, so it felt like there were all these products being created by people who didn't necessarily weren't really the target market and in particular, I I fell in love with the cannabis beverage opportunity in the cannabis beverage space, I think that beverage is going to be the main form factor that will change the stigma around cannabis because as a society we all revolve around beverage, Do you think about it?

We're like, you know you meet up with a friend for coffee or go like you you know cherish your time alone with your tea in the morning or you go for a drink, like everything is revolving around beverage, I don't even drink coffee and I still say let's meet for a coffee, you know, so and and really in beverage, you know, it's it's a category within the food industry that is so heavily branded and I thought, you know my hypothesis at that time or the thing that I was obsessed with at that time was that it was going to take a really strong brand in order to conquer the stigma around cannabis, but it was illegal at that time and unless I wanted to join one of these billion dollar cannabis companies, I wasn't going to be able to do it on my own and then, but then I learned about hemp CBD and I learned that CBD could actually be extracted from cannabis or from hemp and that it was the exact same chemical compound, but it was illegal to extract from cannabis and it was legal to extract from him. I think that anxiety is one of the biggest health problems of our generation and certainly it is for millennials and hemp CBD really helped calm my mind personally on a day to day basis as like a you know a supplement that you take.

So and we drinking it at that time like through another beverage. No, there was nothing, there was nothing to drink at that time on the market. Right, wow, okay. There was like under the counter oils that you could buy basically, but it was this legal gray area in Canada, like it wasn't illegal, but it was, there was just a loophole in the law at the time. Um so I basically decided after that to jump right in, I got like a fancy legal opinion from a lawyer saying like yes, there is a loophole in the law around hemp CBD which there was at the time, the regulatory environment has changed but uh yeah, I sort of said, you know, I never thought I'd start a business, but like I think there is such a clear opportunity for and like a hemp and cannabis beverage brand to really target millennial women and to really create a beverage that meets the health and wellness standards of the food industry that consumers have of the food industry. Um and there wasn't anything like it on the market at that time. So it was one of the, I always say to people like it feels like entrepreneurship sort of happened to me like I, I didn't, I really was not someone that was like, you know, I wasn't planning this for years, I wasn't like looking for a business to start.

I just, it felt like a like an opportunity sort of landed on my lap and I couldn't not do it. Yeah, you saw the problem, you're like, this is for me, I'm interested in this. That's so cool when you switch the mindset from, you know, potentially purchasing a business and that was going to be like backed by investors and then going into launching a business yourself, will you then like, okay, I need to still get bank loans and kind of put a lot of my own personal capital or do I still need to get investors to be able to launch this business because I imagine launching something in the food kind of space and CBD space with regulations and that kind of thing. It's going to be expensive. You're gonna need like legal teams, you're gonna need all these fancy people to help you. How did you get started? Yeah, so we, I started, I self funded the company to start with. Um we raised a seed round led by layer hippo which is a leading seed investor in new york um, shortly after launch, I think it was like five months after we launched, we raised with flair and that really helped us scale but pre launch it was, it was self funded.

We were um, I mean definitely scrappy on all accounts and I, you know, I'm definitely an advocate for venture capital money being able to really change the trajectory of your business. Amazing. Going back to that early beginning when you hadn't raised money yet, you decided to bootstrap the business for the beginning. What did you have to do? Like what were those first steps in launching a business too, you know, even create the product and formulate something that you hadn't done before, what happened there? Yeah, so I like week one what I mean, I first of all I would say like just take a step back for a second, I would say, I wish I was one of those entrepreneurs or I was like, I was sort of chuckle when I read those stories of entrepreneurs that like, you know, sort of had an idea for years or planned it for years or like strategized for years, like because of the industry that I was getting into which is the CBD industry, I knew that time was of the essence like there was no, you could not wait like it was not like every month that you waited was like a month that um, you know, competitors were entering the market, it was just this like in a market that was about to explode, There were so many people coming, um, starting businesses in this space and so I really jumped right in, like once I decided that I was going to do this, I was like full steam ahead, let's launch in four months, like it was, you know, it was sort of intense.

Um, we didn't actually launch in four months, which we'll get to, but um, the first thing I did was interviewed creative agencies to work with and I ended up hiring like a boutique creative agency based in Toronto, um, that really helped me create the brand and launched the brand and create all the visual assets. Um so that was step one in the brand was always something I really wanted to invest in from day one, I think it's super important in the CPG space and in the food space in particular. Um, so that was like the first major investment. Um, simultaneously I basically asked friends and family and mentors and um, friend, mostly friends in the food industry, where can I develop this product, like who knows, a good product development lab that I could work with. Um and I ended up working with a product development um company that's attached to a university in Canada. So we got good rates and they're very well regarded and um, and ended up spending, you know, a lot of time taste testing in the lab, like creating the first initial flavors, which was so fun.

Um, and you know, it was like, yeah, it was such a dream as someone that loves to cook and loves every like food and beverage experience. It was like such a fun time in the business and it was just me, it was like, you know, me reading like flavor trend reports, but also pairing that with like what I actually want to drink and like what's the right level of contemporary? So it was a really like cool time. So you'd be like, you know what, I just like really like lavender. So I want to put that in a drink or like, I know that that's what people are buying so therefore I should put that in a drink. Yeah, I mean, I like, I had like list of flavor trend reports, which you can find online, like every year that, you know, a flavor is designated like, okay, lemon is gonna be really hot this year. I mean, that's not a good example because lemon is always hot. It's such a classic. Um, but yeah, there are flavor trend reports online. So you sort of have to mix like really what you should be doing is looking at the flavor trend reports. But of course, I was also thinking like, what would my goal was to create a product that I would personally consume all day every day, And for me that meant that not only does it taste great, but it has to taste great without sugar or sweeteners.

I never understood these entrepreneurs or companies, or I could never be one of those entrepreneurs that have a product that they did not personally consume every day, you know, and I'm I'm like not a total zealot about sugar, but I, I prefer to have a cookie as opposed to like the sugary beverage, and so I'm like, with beverage in particular, like I don't, I don't want sugar where sugar isn't needed, got it totally, that is so interesting. I didn't have never thought of it like that, I want to talk a bit more about your branding, because you have super distinct branding is obviously amazing when you're like an early on founder and you're having to think about, you know, how much money you should invest into branding and where that happy balance is, because obviously you haven't had capital raised yet, you're not able to invest potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars, How do you know what that fine line is of what you should spend. Yeah, I mean, I think like the simplest answer to that is you invest what you can, you know, there are a lot of people that start brands by hiring a freelancer for a couple of $1000 There is a path to market in the CPG space, where where you hire someone that is a free that you hire a freelancer to create the package or like you create the package yourself.

You also can see something, you know, you see some of that out there and then you really test the product and then if the product actually sells then you maybe tweak the brand or improve it over time, that's not what we did. We hired a or I had at the time, I hired a like a, as I said, a boutique agency, there were three people at the time in this agency and they were really, I mean, I I probably interviewed about 10 different agencies and both across Canada and the U. S. Um and I, you know at the time, I think what was most important to me and it's still very important to me is really the dynamic with the people at that agency. Like you at the end of the day, you are gonna, you know, or a lot of consumer founders know what they want the brand to look like. They know like they know what they wanted to look and feel like they might not know the exact, they might not know like exactly what it looks like, but they have the most, most people in the consumer space have a strong opinion about what the aesthetic of the brand is going to be. I think that in the early days, like especially when it was just me, I really cared about finding people that I'd like to work with and that, you know, that could sort of like support me in the early days of the emotional roller coaster that is starting a business?

So yeah, I found this small agency that was a joy to work with and that was like, and they were just so supportive and flexible and fast moving and um that was you know, that was a huge priority early on and I think as well it gives you that extra kind of level of like validation of someone else being excited about your product and someone else being excited about what you're doing and what you're creating for the world, which as when you're a solo founder in that early beginning phase, you're like, I need this, I need this extra support of course. Oh I would come back from the lab that was like an hour outside of Toronto where I was testing these beverages and I would bring them beverages like in these like plastic bottles and be like, okay, taste this like, I mean what do you think? Like, be honest, you know, I love, they were like my, my people in the early days, I actually got, they were in a shared office space and I got an office in their shared office space so that we could work really like hand in hand, that is such a cool idea, I love that. So you've got the branding, you've got the formulations, what happens next?

How do you go to market? How do you launch in a great way. How do you find those early customers? Yeah, so I mean our, I think our launch story is probably a bit different. We were all set to launch in Toronto in August of 2017 was going to be our lunch date. Um I in June of 2017 was um on a photo shoot in L. A. Having like the time of my life thinking like I had the best job ever and really it was like one of the most memorable, coolest time, like experiences. I've had a sweet reason with sweet reason. Um, and as I'm 10 minutes away from leaving for the airport, I get a call from my regulatory lawyer and in Canada at the time and he was like bad news, they just released the details of the cannabis act in Canada. And we expected them to carve out hemp CBD from the cannabis act so that it was legal and allow it in food and beverage. And they just didn't.

So, so all of a sudden this business that I had been that I had worked so hard at creating was essentially illegal overnight. Um, it was no longer viable to launch in Canada. Most of my competitors closed their doors and return money to investors. Um, but in this, within the same 48 hours, the US announced that they were going to pass the farm bill of 2018 which would legalize hemp in all of its extracts which includes CBD kush. And so it was like a whirlwind of a week and like a very dark months after that, figuring out like are we sure like is this, are we sure we have to really start from scratch and pivot to launch in the States. But but we did. So we um we decided to launch in new york in july and then we made the decision in july. We had our first production run in the U. S. Four months later in november and then which was a whirlwind of turnaround. Um and then launched in new york in december of 2018. But switching countries included, I mean committing to like, you know, do an international commute every week, committing to um finding like a whole new team, a US based team, finding all new suppliers, co packers, manufacturers, distributors, key customers that you're going to launch with.

So it's the only thing that we didn't have to redo was like the core brand. Even the labels on the packaging are obviously different country to country, like everything was different. Um So yeah, we we basically completely pivoted side and launch in the States. Um and the rest is history. As I said, we launched in New York in December of 2018. Oh my gosh, how did she deal with like the mental like anguish that comes with doing something like that and being able to persevere through it and be like, no, I'm still going to do this. I'm going to take all these challenges and keep going. Yeah, I don't know. It's a short answer. I mean we have had so many the challenges in this business. I mean every startup is a challenge. But I think when you were operating in a heavily regulated environment, it's just, especially when the regulations still are not moving as fast as you would like, the challenges are sort of endless. Um, so I, I mean, I think i it was an important like it was an important learning point in the business and really like a really symbolic transition like it was a time where we were like, all right, we are going to go to, you know, to the n degree to get this thing launched to make this successful like we have before we had even launched, we have had like the challenge and all challenges, you know, and so it really just helped us develop that resilience muscle, which I do believe is a, is a muscle.

I say us because I hired a ceo in May of that year. So a couple months from about a month prior to this regulatory news, bad regulatory news and after the fact we would joke about the fact that like we never even considered shutting down the business like it wasn't even an option really. So, um, I think we're you know where there's a will, there's a way that's amazing. Well holy moly and so you pivot to new york you get there, how do you launch and find your first customers? Are you going out and trying to sell into hospitality businesses, restaurants, bars, etcetera, or are you trying to sell Ddc through your website? What was that early kind of customer acquisition like? Yeah, we did not have DtC available when when we launched for better or for worse. Um And nowadays obviously DtC is a lot more common. Ddc isn't as as big of a channel in beverage, like if you think about it, you don't typically buy beverages online, you buy them spontaneously alongside your lunch or you go out for a walk in order like as an excuse to get a beverage um or a beverage as excuse to go for a walk.

Um And so yeah, D. C. Was not a big channel for beverage at the time and it still isn't a huge channel for beverage, but so in the early days we were really just going door to door in new york, like carrying boxes, having Heavy cases of sweet reason, like 12 bottles. I mean I had great arm muscles at the time, I'm sure I don't remember that, but I must have because we were carrying boxes around New York City for you know a good chunk of the early, early days and and really just like trying to get into as many accounts as we could while simultaneously trying to um lockdown a distributor for, for new york. So like one of the biggest challenges in beverages finding the right distribution partners and they really are like the key to unlocking major, major growth in beverage. And so when you were going around, you know, like door knocking on places, was it easy to see people's reaction and people to be interested and be like, yeah, let's let's take it on or was it a harder sell where you had to, you know, do a lot of meetings and meet a lot of people.

What was that kind of like process? Like Yeah, no, luckily, like really, really luckily like it was um I mean I don't want to jinx it, but like it was a really easy product to sell. Um it's a, it's, you know, CBD is a really has a really appealing health benefit that everybody can relate to, you know, and so the health benefits of CBD are pretty easy to sell in and pretty easy for people to relate to. And obviously it's like the perfect product for new Yorkers, you know, of all people. Um and on top of that, we really focused on having an environmentally friendly, beautiful glass bottle and so we were unique amongst our competitors in that most people were in cans and so it allowed us to have this like, unique positioning and we obviously, as I said, have no sugar sweeteners. So, you know, the whole package I would say was relatively easy to, to sell into stores. Like I don't selling it isn't the hard part, the hard part is maintaining that and making sure you're going back to that store every week and and really paying attention to the, you know what the shelf looks like, it looks like etcetera.

And aside from like, you know, doing that kind of like door knocking side of things, how are you marketing to your desired customer and getting them excited about the product to go in and actually buy it off the shelves. Yeah, so I would say in the early days and actually this is probably still true of today, we were obviously very focused on building the brand on social media. Um you know, not surprised and not surprisingly to anybody, it's the most affordable way to grow brand these days and that's how we'll start ups, grow their brands, you know? But on top of that field marketing is really important in beverage. So field marketing, being in store demos of the product so people can actually taste it. Um there's this like old school saying in beverage of liquid to lips and that's like a that like if you can get them to taste it, they will purchase. I love that. And uh so in store demos were really important. Events are really important. So we would in the early days, like we would give free beverages to whoever wanted them, Whoever was throwing a great event, especially if it was in the like health wellness food, arts and cultures face, they could have sweet reason at their event and we wouldn't supply it etcetera.

And then growing marketing, how cool sounds like it would have been a really fun time. Well, I mean it's still events and everything, obviously not during so much the pandemic, but in general, so much fun to be doing that kind of thing. It reminds me also when, you know, when Red Bull was like really out there with their red bull cars and they would just have like red balls at every event you could possibly imagine. Yeah, it sounds so cool. It's like a tried and true beverage, you know, success strategy. Like it's a, for a reason, I mean beverages are, it's like both a very challenging industry because of, I would say there's like major players that have a lot of power of major distributors that have a lot of power that you need to get into and so that makes it, it makes it challenging. But also it's uh, you know, in many ways, a very sexy industry, like it's a really, everybody loves a good beverage, you know, and everybody wants a good beverage at their event. So like it's, it was definitely a fun thing to market and sell and still is, that's so cool and where is the business today? What's the team, like what's happening for you guys?

What does the future look like? Yeah we are now 14 people were in New York and L. A. um we're in about 800 stores between the two cities were very focused on those two cities. I'm like obsessed with focus and and like you know really staying in our lane and so we are very much focused on New York and California in particular. Our team is mostly in the States. There's four of us in Toronto but the rest are in the States and it's a lot of sales people a lot of door to door salespeople and sales leaders that really drive the beverage industry. Um You know sales salespeople in beverage are like the most important goal. Yeah like they're the gold. They are the people that like you need to find people that both fit in with your brand, understand the brand, understand the product but and can sell the product Like a good salesperson really really, really moves the needle which I probably learned too late in the early days I was selling it and then I realized like I might be decent at sales but like I can't even hold a candle to the people that have done it for 20 years.

So Um so yeah we're now 14 people in New York and L. A. We have our core line of sparkling waters. CBD sparkling waters, there's four flavors and by the time this airs we'll actually have just launched our first line extension which is super exciting. We are like just on the edge of our city waiting for it to lunch. We're now a week out so it'll it'll launch in a in a week. What is it is our, it's our evening blend, sweet reasons, evening blend. So we've actually been working on this product for like over a year. It feels like it was in some ways such a um you know difficult product to formulate. Um And the reason for that is because or evening blend that contains a comp like a powerful calming blend of cannabinoids, herbs and adapted jin's that all have like active component to them. So they all have scientifically proven health benefits and to work with that many active ingredients and to make a beverage tastes great um is super difficult.

So it's taken us over a year to formulate. Um But we we basically, you know about a year ago we were sitting around thinking like CBD is so perfect for the alcohol alternative space. And yet there isn't really any CBD product that is formulated and caters to and is branded for the alcohol alternative space. And we thought there was a clear opportunity within the alcohol alternative space to you know sort of to create a product that not only met people's taste expectations but also people's function expectations. So also like actually took the edge off naturally and you know. Yeah, so as a team, I think we were increasingly obsessed with the alcohol alternative space and really thought there was a place for sweet, sweet recent evening blend um to sort of introduce something that was game changing to the market that really met consumers needs on both taste and function. Holy moly, it sounds so exciting.

Congratulations! Oh gosh, I'm so sad, I can't try it. Being in the U. K. That's just the worst about all these cool products that I hear about and I get to speak to um you know, such amazing female founders and then I'm like dang it, I can't even try this. It's ridiculous to smaller rolled across the border. I need to get on a flight tomorrow. I do not recommend it. No, no it's uh it's such a perfect product for today's day and age. You know, like even though we've been working on it for so long, when coronavirus hit, we were like, oh my God and all of our investors were like, you have to launch evening blend now like it is now is the time for this beverage. It has never been more relevant people. Everybody is at home more. Everybody's drinking more and we're all looking for healthier ways to deal with stress on a day to day basis. And you know, I would say our our core sparkling water is a product that you can drink all day. It helps you stay calm and focus and and like it's really something that actually makes you more productive during your day. Our evening blend is recommended at night.

It really takes the edge off and it's just, it's such an exciting product because of today's environment in particular and we're just so excited to help people live healthier, happier lives and drink less. Um yeah, and to drink less overall and am I right in understanding that it won't give you a hangover, right? It'll just like wind you down and make a really chill No, no hangover. So it has 30 mg of broad spectrum CBD and then seven other herbs and adapted jin's all with again, like known calming health benefits around stress, anxiety, sleep. It really, as I said, like takes the edge off naturally. No hangover. And yeah, it's just like, it's the, I think it's a gap in the alcohol alternative space. I love the alcohol alternative space. I love hearing about other entrepreneurs in this space. I think most products meet consumer's needs on taste, but they don't actually deliver an effect. And so, and that's why the alcohol habit is so hard to break.

You know, like we are, we are not a team, which I also think is unique. We're not a team. I am not someone that doesn't drink. I'm someone that wants to drink less and wants to make drinking less easier for people, but I love like one thing I will never give up is my red wine on a friday night with pizza, you know, like that's no alcohol alternative is ever replacing that for me and I don't want to be made to feel guilty about that. Like I want an alcohol alternative for the nights where I've had, you know, red wine three nights in a row and on the fourth night I'm, I still need to unwind and, and so like that is exactly where our evening blend fits in Holy moly. It's like so, so true. All of what you're saying, I'm like, that's me. I know that's totally me excited and you know, sometimes you're like, I don't want to drink wine on a monday night or Tuesday night, but I'd love a little something and I don't want to t I know, I know it's, yeah, I mean I could talk about it forever. We're just, I'm so excited to get so excited for you, wow, october 13th five Cool.

What advice do you have for women who have a big idea and want to launch their own thing, You know, advice is, you know, that does what's his name, baz luhrmann song advice is a form of nostalgia. I'm so fabulous songs. I'm sure I have, but I don't know, it's like an old, old school song, but it's so true. Like everybody has advice based on their own experience, right? And so as I said, like I jumped right in. I was like immediately an execution mode and so as a result my advice for someone wanting to launch something that's a big idea is to like just get started, just do it like just jump right in, don't overthink it, you know, I think of course there are some ideas where you need to test the waters more, where you need to do your research more, where you're not sure if there's consumer demand, but there are other ideas where there are other businesses where the consumer demand is so clear um you just need to like get a product to market quickly and get moving quickly and that was more the case for us.

Uh incredible, amazing, totally, okay, we are up to the six quick questions part of the interview, it's so much fun question number one is, what's your, why my, why? Um we are and I am super passionate about making people feel calm and rediscover calm. I think um I think that calm almost needs a rebrand or people need to better understand what, why calm is so important calm to me, leads to focus, which is fulfillment which is really happiness and and being content you know, so I, I think like calm, is it like calm is what everybody should be after and I and I want to you know create products, we want to create products that help people rediscover calm and calm the minds of humankind, I've never thought about it like that. That is so nice and so true. I need more calm question number two is what's been the number one marketing moment that made your business pop?

Yeah, I would say we we don't have that like elusive one moment. We've definitely been like organically growing our community online on social media and through events over time. And as a result, it's been like a really organic connection with our consumers. Um we're passionate about like actually finding people that love the product and that it helps. Of course there's been some like celebrity mentions that that always help, you know, when a when a celebrity or like major influencer posts video on instagram. But I would say mostly we're focused on creating really, really loyal consumers and fans online organically over time. So cool Question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you listening to? What are you reading? What you doing online? I love this question. Um to me, I'm like to me, I would say like, I mean especially nowadays like in my living room, reading the news, you know, um aren't we all, I don't, you know, it's uh yeah, but I would say I am a bit of a news junkie and it's like a very important part of my day is like, I can't, I can't miss my morning tea and news.

What do you read? What news are you reading? I read the new york times and the global mail. Um, and I occasionally turn on Fox news just to understand all perspectives. Love that. Good one question number four is how do you win the day? And that's around your own AM and PM rituals that keep you feeling happy and motivated and successful. Yeah, I am such a morning person and I like love and cherish my mornings and don't do anything other than my very sort of specific morning routine. I Wake up, make my black tea and have like a pot of tea and read the news for about 45 minutes. Um, then I go for a walk with my husband and my dog and then I come home and I meditate And then in the evening I asked squeeze in like a short 30 minute work. I usually, hopefully sometime before dinner occasionally in the morning, but often these days it's in the evening and I would say again, I'm like, it's valid about uh no phones near my valley.

I like plug my phone in across the, across the bedrooms. I think sleep is like, so obviously important to our overall health. And so my phone is very far away from me when I sleep and I read before bed, I'm really trying to get onto this no phone thing like in the room, it's like killing my soul and I know that it's killing my soul and it starts my day with such anxiety. Um, I just started to like change my habit again for the millionth time anyway. It's a Tough one. Yeah, I, I think it's, I mean if you can't get it out of your room, just plug it in and I started pulling it across the room just so I would like get out of bed for my alarm. Like it wasn't even, you know, it wasn't for that reason even, but I'm a huge believer in it. Like when I go on instagram right before bed, I'm Thinking about work for like 40 minutes. My dreams are all weird involving people. I see on Instagram. Like I just think it's not really healthy and similarly in the morning, I don't look at any social like, well I'm in my like la la land of just like reading news and having a cup of tea. I don't look at messages from family friends.

I don't look at instagram. None of that. Yeah, that's so good. I need to get on to that question. Number five is if you only had $1000 left in your business bank account, where would you spend it? Such an interesting question. I love your final final five questions. Honestly. Like, like got reaction to this. It's like your gut reaction is always the right one. Maybe that's debatable. But my gut reaction is I would give it to my team and say Thank you for your loyalty and like a lot going to find a new job, 5000 bucks in my bank account. I would um you know. Yeah I think uh yeah I really care about people and being good to my team um and 1000 bucks is not going to move the needle in most cases that's sort of like maybe that's a cop out answer or work around answer if if you ask me like what are you, if you're trying to get at like what is the most important spend, I would still be team focused, I would just give it to a salesperson as a bonus or to my sales team as a bonus and say Like go sell products and you'll get $1,000 in a bonus because they are so important to the success of the business.

And last question question # six is how do you deal with failure? And it can be around your personal experiences or just general mindset and approach. Yeah. I would say failure is like sort of indistinguishable to me in my everyday life because it is So much a part of the job of being of being a founder. Like I don't even know what failure is like what what is failure? You know um is failure a mistake? Probably not like mistakes are just like happened, you know every 90 minutes in the startup world, it's not even like you can't even, you don't have time to dwell on a mistake or why that happened or what happened and you certainly do not have time to cry over spilled milk. So it's I think like, you know, the long and short of it is like I deal with failure by problem solving and by focusing on solutions and how we can fix this, because that's the only way you can deal with failure when you're running a startup that inevitably encounters, like what seemed to be like life ending challenges like every, you know, week or month or a couple of weeks.

So um yeah, problem solving and trying to be solution oriented and just generally and fundamentally optimistic about our future I think is the most important thing. Very important indeed. Hillary, thank you so much for being on the show today and for sharing your story with me and all the learnings that you've had along the way. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much doing this has been a pleasure, love it. And your podcast is so great. Hey, it's just me here. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode of the female startup club podcast. If you want to hear more head to my instagram at Dune rasheen to see my filmed interviews with incredible female founders like Erica from fluffy beauty Greta from drop bottle and Sammy leo from breeze bomb and if you like what we're doing here, visit our website and sign up to female startup club dot com to get all of the good stuff delivered straight to your inbox and lastly, subscribe to the Female Startup Club podcast. Mm hmm. Yeah.

How this sparkling startup is chilling out millennials one drink at a time with Sweet Reason Founder Hilary McCain
How this sparkling startup is chilling out millennials one drink at a time with Sweet Reason Founder Hilary McCain
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