Tea is growing in popularity in the U.S., with sales forecast to reach $25 billion in 2014, according to Packaged Facts. If you're like me, you think of tea as something for grown-ups, but entrepreneur and mom of four Christine Wheeler says wee ones around the world drink it, too. That's what inspired her to create Drazil, a boxed drink that combines herbal teas and fruit juices to offer the benefits of tea to American children—benefits that kids in other countries have been enjoying for centuries.
"Tea is the most popular beverage, after water, worldwide," Wheeler says.
Kids in Japan, where Wheeler lived briefly, sip caffeinated teas. But Drazil, which is "lizard" spelled backward in honor of the brand's lovable chameleon mascot, is made from herbal teas, which are naturally caffeine-free, not to mention rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Wheeler, a former Procter & Gamble executive, came up with the idea of a tea product for kids in 2010, amid concerns over juice drinks that were high in sugar. "Drazil has 35 percent less sugar than the average juice drink," Wheeler says.
The big question: would kids drink something that tasted like, well, tea? Wheeler knew the brew would have to be sweetened to appeal to kids. But she was committed to keeping Drazil healthy. That's when she hit on the idea of blending in fruit juice, and Drazil's unique herbal blend was born: hibiscus, rose hips, rooibos, pomegranate and fruit pieces. Taste tests soon proved that little ones loved the formulation.
Today, Drazil is sold in most Whole Foods stores on the West Coast and is available online at Amazon. Wheeler's long-term goal is to sell Drazil in stores across the country and internationally.
Wheeler wants other entrpreneurial moms to know that her journey hasn't been easy. Building a business rarely is. The (always) working mom says she was told "no" countless times as she worked to build her brand. She says you have to be willing to make sacrifices, and "you can't let rejection get you down."
"I've had to prioritize. I always miss the popular show; I haven't exercised; I don't have time for photo albums; friends fall by the wayside," Wheeler says. "There are so many expectations on us as women to be great moms, to be the social queen, to have a career. Trying to manage all of that is a challenge. But I know my kids and this business have to come first. It helps to have support. You also have to focus on the people who believe in your idea."
She left us with a quote that has inspired her as she grows her business, and that she hopes will inspire other would-be business owners: "No one ever said it would be easy; they said it would be worth it."