An 11-year veteran of the beverage industry, Palo Hawken is no stranger to working with esoteric ingredients. As the co-founder of Bossa Nova, Hawken was at the forefront of introducing and selling acai-based drinks to Americans, something that at the time of the brand’s launch in 2004 was certainly an uphill battle. Today, Hawken continues to work with unusual highly functional and nutritious ingredients as the founder of Rebbl, a maker of ready-to-drink, herb-infused elixirs and tonics.
Marketing a range of products that have both unique names and formulations — including a “medicinal mushroom”-infused, coconut milk-based chocolate drink called Reishi Chocolate — Rebbl’s business philosophy is as deeply entrenched in unique sources of nutrition as it is in organic and fair trade sourcing methods. The company donates 2.5 percent of revenue to Not For Sale, a non-profit organization that seeks to end worker exploitation and human trafficking.
Now in its second year, Rebbl has found a foothold in the natural channel and is represented in all 50 states, including six regions of Whole Foods and in all UNFI distribution centers, according to Hawken, who views Rebbl as being at a validation point in terms of velocity and distribution. It’s a big part of the reason that the company is the midst of a capital raise, one in which Hawken is seeking strategic and institutional investment, some of which will go toward building awareness and education of its brand and products.
“We feel like the only way these ingredients are making their way into the daily lives of the everyday person is to make them really convenient and really tasty,” Hawken said in an interview with BevNET. “No one’s doing it yet and we feel like it’s a meaningful niche to build into, and we feel like it’s going to be something really significant in the near future.”
In this video, filmed within Rebbl’s booth at the recently held 2015 Natural Products Expo East, Hawken discusses more its distribution goals, how Rebbl formulates its products to meet consumer demand for taste and functionality and discusses some of the ingredients uses in Rebbl beverages and the history behind some of them. Hawken also discusses how the company approaches trends as it relates to innovation and its cause-based marketing initiatives.