An extremely competitive beverage landscape didn’t stop Beth Wilson-Parentice from pursuing her passion. From managing a Starbucks in Connecticut, to creating concoctions in her Pennsylvania kitchen, Wilson-Parentice overcame financial, production and distribution hurdles to create her own line of natural, organic sparkling beverages.
Founded in September 2009 after an initial investment of $25,000, the Chester Springs, Pa.-based Sipp Eco Beverage Co. Inc. originally came to fruition in Wilson-Parentice’s kitchen where she experimented with formulations like ginger, lime and vanilla; blackberry, mint and lime; and honey, pear and green tea. She also developed a name and logo concept for her new brand.
“My husband, Greg, thought I was crazy. He kept saying, ‘But you don’t even have a beverage or a bottle,’” recalls Wilson-Parentice.
Not deterred, she began calling beverage companies looking for information and investors. “I found out I needed a flavor company, and the cost to get my kitchen recipe into production was $30,000-$40,000 for each flavor. And then I heard 85 percent of beverage businesses fail,” she notes. “I almost walked away, but I set aside one week to call every organic flavor company.
“On the third day, I reached Domenick Luccarelli, who worked in business development for AM Todd,” she continues. “He told me to fly to California to attend the Natural Products Expo West and present my concept. If they liked it, they choose one entrepreneur a year and would do all the flavor formulations at no cost. I was selected. If it weren’t for Dominick and his belief, Sipp wouldn’t be here today. I’m very grateful.”
However, because only a small production run was necessary, finding a co-packer willing to work with her wasn’t easy, she says. “Right before the production run was scheduled, they wanted to double the order, so one month before the launch at Natural Products Expo East in Boston, I had to find a new co-packer willing to produce Sipp with small minimums,” Wilson-Parentice explains. “We made 500 cases, loaded 30 of them into the van with our booth display and handed out samples. Everyone loved it. Two years later at the same trade show, a venture capitalist group, Emil Capital Partners, who rarely invest in anything with less than a million dollars in revenue, found Sipp.
“Eight months later, they made their first investment,” she continues. “The rest is history.”
In just more than six years, the beverage company has made, manufactured and delivered 2 million bottles of its natural, organic sparkling beverages to more than 1,000 stores around the United States, including Whole Foods Market, Starbucks, Wegmans and Fresh Market, as well as Harrods in the United Kingdom.
Sipp Sparkling Organics are available in five flavors: Gingler Blossom, Mojo Berry, Summer Pear, Lemon Flower and Zesty Orange, which is a new, low-calorie combination of organic blood orange, lime and jalapeño extracts. The beverages are certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and lightly sweetened with agave.
Zesty Orange totals 70 calories for each 12-ounce bottle compared with 100 calories for each 12-ounce bottle of the other flavors. The 12-ounce bottles are available in four-packs, and the company is debuting 12-ounce slim cans this fall.
While creating this line of beverages, Wilson-Parentice says she knew they needed to be a combination of natural and organic. “Five years ago, there weren’t many natural sodas on the market,” she says. “With Sipp Eco Beverage Co., I was attempting to create my own category as a beverage. … But we changed to Sipp Sparkling Organics after realizing ‘eco’ wouldn’t resonate with people on the shelf.”
A cross between a soda and a sparkling water, Sipp Sparkling Organics fills a niche in the beverage marketplace, according to Wilson-Parentice. “A lot of flavored/sparkling waters out there have very little flavor and don’t taste good,” she says. “Traditional sodas are loaded with sugar and are heavy and overly carbonated. Sipp is organic, all natural, lightly carbonated, lightly sweetened and it has flavor that can actually be tasted in layers.
“Because I make all of the recipes first in my kitchen, I’m constantly experimenting with flavor combinations. There’s authenticity in the flavors and high-quality ingredients,” she continues. “We take a lot of care and time to perfect the flavors and the layers in each bottle. … Everyone has a different palate, and we make sure different people with different tastes experience the flavors positively.”
Wilson-Parentice says she is proud her beverage company is “on track to exceed a 500 percent growth next year.” It has eight employees, and plans to bring on a vice president of operations by the end of the year.
“Having an idea that I created in my kitchen and seeing it sold in some of the world’s biggest retailers is extremely rewarding,” she says. “It has shown me — and I hope to inspire others — that if you work hard and put your mind to something, you can achieve it.”