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Four women in Maine with decades of experience in the natural products industry have launched a business based on bitterness.
Karen Farrell, 42, one of the partners, explains why they launched Bitter Love in November 2017. Farrell has more than 20 years of experience in retail, sales and marketing.
“Bitter Love was born out of the need to change the palate of America,” Farrell said. “Bitter is a functional taste. When you drink something bitter, it has a cascading effect in your body that aids digestion.”
The Italians understand bitter, Farrell said. In Italy, you are typically served a bitter drink before you eat your meal.
“Bitters are missing in the American diet,” she said.
Bitter Love is entirely self-financed and right now has only one full-time employee, Alexandra Noyes, 28, a graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in psychology. Noyes also has an equity stake in the company. Leah Gootkind, 41, has a degree in nutrition, and Taja Dockendorf, 40, owns a marketing and branding firm specific to the national organic category.
The partners’ love of bitters also comes from the knowledge that sugar is really bad for you, Farrell added.
The company offers three non-alcoholic drinks made of a bitter blend of digestive herbs, sparkling water, and fruit juice, adding up to 40 calories per bottle and, of course, no added sugar.
There are three flavors: Tart Cherry, Toasted Pineapple and Peppered Grapefruit. The herbal blend consists of ashwagandha, gentian, ginger, wormwood and artichoke.
Farrell, who is also an herbalist, explains that ashwagandha is traditionally used in medicine in India, and helps your body adapt to stress. She describes gentian root as a “classic bitter.”
“If you went to a bar right now and had bitters in your cocktail, that’s what you would get,” Farrell said.
Wormwood is a digestive bitter, artichoke herb helps with cholesterol and ginger is a “spicy, digestive bitter,” which many people are familiar with.
“What we looked at is the standard American diet and what people need,” Farrell said. “You need this beverage to help you digest your mac and cheese.”
Dockendorf said she sees the company’s beverages as an everyday drink, regardless of digestive issues.
“This is a great drink as a mid-day pick-me-up,” Dockendorf said. “It enlivens the palate and taste buds and quenches that mid-day funk. If something didn’t agree with you it helps to settle the stomach.”
Fuller adds, “We want people to drink this instead of drinking a soda. Any time I want a refreshing beverage I can drink this.”
Bitter Love is on Amazon.com and in about 135 retailers in New England. The company will launch in New York City’s Fairway Market in January.
“Fairway is a specialty retailer focusing on natural and organic foods in Manhattan, New Jersey and Westchester County,” Fuller said. “We’re excited.”
Dockendorf said the company is cash positive. The women are hoping to break into Whole Foods, where they got a verbal commitment before Amazon took over, but are still waiting for final approval.
“We love what we do in our day jobs,” Dockendorf said. “This is a wonderful extension, something that makes us happy.”
December 30, 2018 at 05:32PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs