Jennie Ripps & Maria Littlefield
Tell us about your business.We started with a love for tea and a great idea - a fresher, funner, “wiser” way to imbibe. We were frustrated with the mixers on the market, and had expertise in tea - our other business is a looseleaf tea company with a focus on custom-blending. We fine-tuned our favorite cocktail blends through pouring tea cocktails at events throughout the US, ranging from OCRF’s Super Saturday charity event in Watermill, NY to the premiere of Austenland in Hollywood. Once we had the perfect brews to bottle, we searched America for the ideal place to produce Owl’s Brew. Time and again, we came up against the issue that it was easier to mimic the taste of our blends through using artificial flavors. Finally, we found a home in Vermont, where our tea is fresh-brewed in huge kettles, nothing added. Iced tea is as all-American as it gets. We think Owl’s Brew will be a cocktail pioneer with its focus on whole, natural ingredients, and low sugar content. We’re reinventing a classic!
What makes your business stand out?Firstly, we are creating a new category for beverage, which is extremely exciting, rewarding, and challenging. Our approach to mixers is new and fresh, and we are changing the way that people consume tea. We are focused on making refreshing and delicious flavors using an all natural product. We are also jazzed about making tea cool and accessible. Our tea mixers "keep it real" - we only use whole fruits and spices in our tea, and never "paint" artificial or natural flavors (which are actually often synthetic) onto our blends. This allows us to offer an antioxidant-rich beverage crafted to be paired with spirits, but which can also be served as a mocktail. Our consumers rest assured that they are getting real ginger, strawberries, or coconut in every Brew. Our tea mixers are flavorful reinventions of classic and contemporary cocktails, and our clients “drink wise” with every scrumptious sip.
What's the best business advice you've received?It’s never too early to support a cause. When we started out, we really wanted to support several initiatives: 1) charitable institutions in the countries where our tea was sourced from 2) our NYC community, and 3) education and knowledge (our Owl logo is a giveaway that we really care about being “wise”!) However, we felt that we weren’t big enough to effectuate change, and that charities might even laugh at us, as we were a start-up, with big dreams but mini-budgets. Owl’s Brew proudly graduated from Goldman Sachs’ TBF Cohort of 10,000 Small Businesses this March, and one key learning was “if you want to support a cause, build it into your company’s DNA early”. This gave us the confidence to reach out to potential partners. We are now honored to be able to say that we give a percentage of sales to the Patrick Chege Orphanage, a charity that is based out of Kenya; and that we are just embarking on an initiative to support the New York Public Library.
Mark Your Calendar
NOMINATIONS ENDAug. 31, 2015
Final day for entering the Audience Choice Award competition.
VOTING ENDSOct. 19, 2015
Final day to cast your vote for your favorite makers.
WINNERS ANNOUNCEDOct. 23, 2015
2015 Editors' Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.See past Award Winners
AMERICAN MADE SUMMITNov. 7, 2015
Don’t miss our networking event and maker lecture series in New York City. Tickets are available now.Discover the American Made Summit