WTRMLN WTR cofounder on the magic of working with Beyonce

OK so pretty much anything Beyonce touches tends to turn to gold, but that doesn’t mean you can completely slack off once she likes your product. That is exactly what WTRMLN WTR Co-Founders Jody Levy and Harlan Berger have done as even though they got the Beyonce nod of approval early on with their company, they have continued to build and innovate to keep their product a hot commodity.

OK, so pretty much anything Beyonce touches tends to turn to gold, but that doesn’t mean you can completely slack off once she likes your product. That is exactly what WTRMLN WTR cofounders Jody Levy and Harlan Berger have done as even though they got the Beyonce nod of approval early on with their company, they have continued to build and innovate to keep their product a hot commodity on the ever-growing and somewhat crowded healthy water market.

However, they should be commended for launching their startup, which turns bruised or misshaped watermelons into cold-pressed juice, on Dec.13, 2013. This was the same day Beyonce launched her now iconic track “Drunk in Love,” which contains the lyrics, “I’ve been drinking watermelon.” Jumping on an opportunity they immediately sent over the product to keep her office fully stocked. They did this for months until they landed a meeting with the singer herself and eventually an investment in their company.

Now sold nationwide (and they just launched four new flavors introducing four new – Blood Orange, Cucumber, Mint, and Cayenne) former artist Levy has some great career advice to share (and a great morning routine hack.)

On executing your idea

In 2013, my WTRMLN WTR Co-Founder Harlan Berger shared this crazy fact that there are hundreds of millions of pounds of ugly, misshapen but perfectly nutritious ‘waste’ watermelons in the United States annually. This is what set us on our trajectory for WTRMLN WTR. As a designer and strategist, it’s my expertise to take never before created ideas and find ways to execute them. When I heard about the millions of pounds of ugly, non-sellable melons in the US each year, my ecologically obsessed mind lit up. Harlan and I came up with this idea to create a beverage out of this upcycled waste stream. Watermelons are 92% water, so we cold-pressed the WTR out of the melon and squeezed the delicious nectar from within. This is what set us on this wild adventure in the WTRMLN Patch. 

On playing the Beyonce card

It was perfect synchronicity. Our launch had been delayed for months because of the opening date of the Whole Foods Market in Brooklyn and that is what got us to that fateful blizzard day. No, I didn’t really think about her becoming part of the company at that moment, but shortly after when we started to connect and discuss our mission of educating people about clean healthy living we knew it was a perfect fit.

On Queen Bey’s wisdom

It is a gigantic honor to be supported by and in partnership with Beyoncé Knowles Carter. In our early meetings, prior to her investment, she and I spent time talking about our company, our ethos, our mission of Seeding Change – she and I found connectivity on how we want to inspire and empower people to care for themselves. This is the ultimate personal power. I am personally and professionally learning from her gracefully power every day. And I continue to be humbled that she has invested in me and our company. 

On challenges

There are challenges every day! Someone once said that being in the clean food and beverage industry was like waking up and getting hit in the face with a 2×4. I always thought that would never apply to me – but every day I wake up and I brace myself – because it’s coming, I just never know which direction it is coming from.

The biggest challenge is staying positive, open, present and flexible to respond to the ebb and flow of each and every moment.

On staying innovative

I try to stay in close touch with what people want and need, what excites them, what invites them to feel and connect – with themselves and others. When it comes to the science of nutrition and food, we are constantly learning. Our food system has the ability to evolve with the changing tides, obsessions with new ingredients. I have used clean nutrition as a mode to hack my wellness for many years. As I stay on top of nutritional experiments and education in our society, the food trends change. We have been innovating in advance of the science and the awareness. As society catches up, we share our formulations and products. No matter how much science goes into our products, they always have to be delicious and provide function our people.

On growing a startup

WTRMLN WTR is a big tiny startup. We currently sell in 25,000 stores across the United States. I created our name and identity as we launched our product, brand and the category of watermelon water. This was a clever choice to own the space.

On hiring people

I look for “IT”. That insatiable desire to do good and work hard and strive for perfection while embracing the imperfect. When you find someone with “IT” you know they can do everything and those are the people who help companies expand and evolve and grow.

On the next investor and the future

There are so many amazing catalytic humans on this planet that we are excited to work with. My dream is to bring Michelle Obama into our mix to help prove that our food system can change and a consumer brand can help educate and heal.

 In five years I’d like to see the company on the sidelines of every sports arena, on billboards around the world, in fridges of all of our happy humans hydrating with our Liquid Love.

What she wishes she had known when she started

How impossibly challenging this industry and being part of the clean food revolution truly is.

On hacking her morning

I make time to dance. … It’s my medicine. On crazy days, I’ll take a few minutes to play some loud music and get in my body. When things get intense I get on my bike and move – fast with the wind.  Mornings are really important for me to regroup and center myself. I generally start by going through any outstanding emails, and then once I feel like my inbox is in a good place, I’ll workout, and then take time to meditate. Doing some work first-thing helps me stay present while taking time for myself. I try to live by the saying that ‘every moment is life.’ It reminds me to enjoy the moments I am in no matter how difficult, frustrating, and intense it may be.

Meredith Lepore|is the Deputy Editor of Ladders and can be reached at mlepore@theladders.com.