With $200,000 in startup funds pooled from personal savings and 18 private investors, the two started Saphia Lifestyle Beverages L.L.C. in 2004. However, it wasn’t until early 2006 that Cook-Anderson, 38, and Patterson, 43, began the actual process of developing their product. In order to transform the initial formula into an actual beverage, they began working with Lavaughn Hill, a beverage chemist with more than 30 years of experience. “Working with a beverage chemist is so important because there’s an interaction of chemicals that takes place with vitamins and minerals, so you have to be very mindful of what those interactions are and how they can affect the taste and consistency of your beverage,” says Cook-Anderson, the company’s president and CEO. “You can’t just combine one vitamin with just any other vitamin,” she says.
When they were ready to solicit a bottling plant to make the formula in mass quantities, the two hit a roadblock. A small beverage business with no customers on their client roster, they wanted a production run of only 100,000 bottles or less. But they found that nearly all of the bottling plants they approached required a minimum production run of 500,000 bottles per flavor. More investigation led them to a medium-sized plant in suburban Chicago. The owner, a mother of two, believed in their product and agreed to work with the company.
After seven months of hard work, the partners began selling BlissBerry, PacifyinglyPeach, and LovinglyLemon on their company Website (www.saphiawater.com) on July 8, 2006. Cook-Anderson says a buyer from the Motherhood Maternity chain heard about the company on a news report that aired in Philadelphia and called to place an order. “At first they only sold our water
s in 100 of their 800 stores, but when the first order sold out in less than three weeks they called us immediately and put in a second order. Now they have the line available at all of their U.S. stores,” she says.
The company’s three-flavor line of low-calorie, nutrient-enhanced waters, which retail for $1.99 each, is now sold nationwide in Motherhood Maternity, Babies-R-Us, and Destination Maternity. Edamame Spa, a string of independently-owned maternity spas, also stocks the innovative water products, as do select OB-GYN offices across the country. A babe in the beverage industry, the seven-employee Saphia Lifestyle Beverages earned just an estimated $50,000 in revenues in 2006, but Cook-Anderson projects that the business will make between $250,000 and $300,000 in 2007.
HOLD THE FIZZ
Although carbonated soft drinks remain the largest beverage category in the United States with $67 billion in sales in 2005, carbonated soft drink volumes fell flat that same year, according to Beverage Marketing Corp. Meanwhile, Beverage Digest reports that sports drinks earned $6.8 billion in sales, energy drinks racked up $3.4 billion, ready-to-drink teas were brewing with $3.8 billion, and bottled water totaled $13.1 billion. Nutrient-enhanced waters were also a favorite in 2005 with $608 million in sales, according to BMC. The Nutrition Business Journal indicates that sales in this category are expected to reach