Startup Spotlight

[Video] Startup élevé stands out in crowded sparkling water category with vintage-inspired packaging

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags startups Sparkling water adaptogens

Startup élevé distinguishes its adaptogenic sparkling water brand in a saturated market through its vintage-inspired packaging, natural ingredients and distribution, co-founders and CEOs Tanya Major and Dianna Aguilar tell FoodNavigator-USA in this episode of Startup Spotlight.

Launching in 2021, the co-founders developed the branding before the formula, which features botanical illustrations and gold trim on its cans, with the idea that water "should taste as good as it looked," Major explained.

“We were very particular about what we wanted, just the water color or the vintage look, the gold, to make it a little more upscale. And then on top of being a regular sparkling water, we want it to be a functional beverage,” Major said.

élevé initially started with its dream water that promoted sleep using skullcap and valerian in a lemon lavender flavor, before expanding the line to fire, which contains Siberian ginseng, turmeric and cordyceps in a pineapple and cayenne flavor; and finally beauty, which includes milk thistle and rhodiola rosea in a strawberry rose flavor.

“We knew we wanted to have a nighttime flavor. That was probably the first thing that we came up with that differentiated us between other sparkling waters and other functional beverages. There’s a lot of sleepy time teas, melatonin pills, cannabis, whatever you want. But we wanted to have a sparkling water that people can enjoy before going to bed,” Major explained.

The other two flavors focus more on day-time, caffeine-free consumption.

'We're not skimping on any ingredient'

Developing a transparent label, particularly around adaptogenic content and serving size, was another differentiating point for the brand.

“We do include full servings of the adaptogens in all of our drinks and are listed on the cans. A lot of the sparkling waters are functional beverages that market adaptogenic benefits but don’t necessarily put the milligrams … they’re just listed as part of the ingredients. So we wanted to be very transparent and forward with people letting them know that we’re not skimping on any ingredient here … and we specifically formulated it to go with the flavors that we are presenting,” Aguilar elaborated.

Additionally, the beverages contain no sweeteners or sugar, and instead of natural flavors, opted for organic extracts, along with a lower carbonation level, because, Major reasoned, that “other sparkling waters are a little bit harsh on the stomach.”

Casting a wide distribution net via online wholesale retailers

As a self-funded company, élevé started as DTC on its website and in online wholesale platforms, which eventually led the brand to work with an investor and eventually expand into retail distribution across the US, and a more condensed market in Austin, Texas, where the founders are based.

“We found a platform that sells to retailers across the country. So instead of growing … in a specific city and then building out, we started getting retailers and multiple states all over the country and even Canada,” Aguilar explained.

From experimenting with flavors in the kitchen to meeting with formulators, the founders credited their growth to industry experts who guided their path to each next step.

“Fortunately we’ve had a really great network of people that believe in élevé and believe in us. Even though we may not be the most experienced in this field, because of their faith in us and their willingness to help … it’s been a very collaborative effort," Aguilar said.

 

 

                                                                                                                                          

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