Dirty Lemon is looking to add some juice.
A filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reveals that the New York City-based company, which markets a line of all-natural functional wellness drinks made with fruit juices and botanicals, is attempting to raise $4.5 million.
Dirty Lemon turned heads upon its launch in 2015 for its innovative text message-based ordering platform. The brand sells its four SKUs –Detox, Energy, Skin + Hair and Sleep –exclusively through SMS: customers simply register their phone number, billing, shipping and credit card information online, then text the Dirty Lemon number to place an order. A 6-pack of bottles costs $65, which includes two-day shipping on all orders.
In an interview with BevNET, Dirty Lemon co-founder and CEO Zak Normandin, who founded baby and toddler organic food brand Little Duck Organics, said the company was in the middle of closing the fundraising round and declined to go into specifics. He said that the new resources would be directed towards the company’s current focus on marketing initiatives and developing new products.
“Over the last year we’ve built something in beverage that is clearly non-traditional,” he said in an e-mail. “Looking forward we need to elaborate on what we have done well and expand our current product offering.”
According to Normandin, part of that expansion includes exploring new innovations that may have a larger consumer base and different use occasion than Dirty Lemon has tapped into thus far.
“We are focused from an R&D standpoint on broadening the appeal of the brand,” he wrote, noting the company is developing more products for everyday drinking. “For example, having an entry level offering will allow customers who are excited about the brand to have an easier opportunity to become a customer.”
Bringing new consumers into the fold is critical for a non-traditional brand like Dirty Lemon, as is retaining its existing consumer base, which Normandin said is currently over 30,000 users in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia. He explained that in order to fulfill the company’s ambition to compete on a national scale outside of traditional retail requires Dirty Lemon to truly differentiate itself from competing brands.
“ We attract new customers by providing a highly curated experience from the moment a consumer finds out about the brand through to when they receive our products,” Normandin wrote in an e-mail. “This proposition is appealing to the modern consumer and ultimately provides a more elevated, premium engagement compared to products sold through traditional retail channels. Traditional retail is limiting to brands — you lose control over how your products are presented to consumers.”
Social media has been a key part of Dirty Lemon’s strategy to build a lifestyle brand from the beginning. The company announced its official launch on Instagram in 2015, but it has used the app to communicate a broader personality rather than simply promote the line. Instead, one is as likely to find a random meme or risque bedroom shot than an image of the product itself. For example, in a nod to its Sleep variety, one post features in image of semi-nude woman sleeping in bed, captioned with “snoring is absolutely an aphrodisiac.”
“We’ve never really explored traditional marketing in the way that most brands do,” Normandin said. “Because it has been a part of the brand since day one, it has naturally been a core focus as we continue to grow.”