Brewed in her college dorm, Melina rediscovered a 17th century re-hydration recipe
As Melina prepares for the rest of her deliveries for the day, we get a quick moment to chat.
How did your company get started?
I first started brewing switchel in my dorm room at St. Olaf College. When I started, I didn't know I had re-created an old recipe from the 17th-century. I was simply combining ingredients my grandmother told me to incorporate into my diet to alleviate my heartburn and help me to naturally replenish and rehydrate after a night on the ice. (I was a D-3 college hockey player) It wasn't until after graduating college when I was persuaded to sell my drink at a local, Minnesota farmers' market, that I gave it the name Switchel, which I had found online when searching "vinegar-based drinks". Who knew that ginger and apple cider vinegar drinks, like switchel, were a thing way back when, and even mentioned in Laura Ingalls Wilder books? That's when I realized "my" creation was really just a rediscovery of something that needed to be shared. It's a part of our history in a bottle, and I believe that by creating this company, I've helped to identify and champion this drink -- one that deserves to be kept in production and on our tables.
Can you tell us a bit more about your product?
We botanically brew sparkling, certified organic switchel -- a refreshing, ginger, and apple cider vinegar elixir from the 17th-century. This old-school sailors’ tonic is perfect for replacing electrolytes, boosting immunity, and supporting digestion. Unlike kombucha, it is absolutely caffeine- and alcohol-free, although, it does blend quite nicely with spirits! We use certified organic, vegan, and non-GMO flavors and ingredients like fresh fruits, herbs, and spices. Our company is based in St. Cloud, MN and we are the only certified woman-owned switchel company in the US. We are also happy to be a certified B Corp, supporting the people and planet alongside our own profit. 1% of our annual sales support MN water conservation efforts through partnerships with non-profits like Alliance for the Great Lakes and Friends of the Boundary Waters.
How has COVID-19 impacted your company?
It has decimated our foodservice (restaurant, corporate, brewery, catering, nonprofit, etc.) account sales, slowed our wholesale-retail sales, and doubled our e-commerce sales. Which is a reflection of how our customers have been affected by this crisis. All-in-all, 2020 has cast light upon the vulnerability of our sales channels and the insecurity of our food systems.
As a local brand, what are some of the greatest challenges you face?
Finding shelf-space, especially amongst the competitively priced big-time national brands. Our other main challenges are marketing and distribution costs.
What do you hope to achieve for your company?
Survival through COVID-19 and continued sustainable growth in all three of its facets -- people, planet, and profit.
What are some of your favorite local brands?
Grlk, Double Take Salsa, Gustola Granola, KaKookies, Sunabloom, Velvet Bees Honey Butter
Where can your product be found and where can I learn more?
You can find our beverages at superiorswitchel.com, Amazon, and natural grocers across the United States. Find a retailer nearest you here. If you'd like to learn more, check out our Instagram and Facebook.