Female Founded Business Spotlight...
It’s happy hour over on le blog today, because I am featuring Bravazzi’s Hard Italian Sodas! You know I’m always on the search for the most delicious cocktails & drinks out there, and I discovered Bravazzi about a year ago, and was absolutely blown away by how flavorful it is.
Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to learn a lot about the brand, which of course has taken my obsession to the next level. 😂You may have spotted Bravazzi at my 25th birthday dinner or in Instagram stories or posts of mine, (like this one), and I’ve had the pleasure of working with and learning a lot more about the company in the past year. So I asked the Bravazzi team if I could feature their story in my female-founded businesses series.
The founders, Sarah Ross and Anne Ellis, started Bravazzi around three and a half years ago, when they saw a need in the beverage market for a high end, premium hard Italian soda that they would both actually enjoy drinking. They were kind enough to talk me through their story and answer the below questions, to share a little bit about themselves and their affinity for the fresh flavors of Italy.
Right off the bat I learned that Bravazzi’s Italian influence was not happenstance. Both Sarah and Anne are crazy about the country and for good reason. Sarah’s family hosted an Italian foreign exchange student when she was a junior high school, and they still treat each other like family to this day and visit each other frequently. And one of Anne’s favorite life adventures to date has been renting a car in Florence and driving all over the countryside of Tuscany and Umbria. Therefore, both having a serious love of Italy and a background in brand innovation (more to come on that!), they founded the first ever hard Italian soda.
It’s a fascinating and inspiring story, and I know you’ll admire their passion (and love of Italy and a really good drink 😉) as much as I do. Below you’ll find five questions I asked them, and then my synopsis of their answers.
How did you come up with the idea of Bravazzi?
SARAH: It was my little brain child! I lived and studied in Italy for a summer in high school and then again for a semester in college. I of course became obsessed with Italy and picked my major and language for college with the full intention of going back to study abroad in Italy… I was introduced to Italian sodas while I was living over there and then went on to gain experience in branding and marketing for alcohol consumption beverages, and wanted to create a drink that I actually wanted to drink. I needed something that just tasted fresh, like everything in Italy does.
Tell us a little bit more about your history & what led you to Bravazzi?
SARAH: I started in January of 2004 with Coors Brewing Company in marketing and stuck with it. I then moved to Chicago when it became MillerCoors and worked there for eleven years and climbed the corporate ladder and became an executive. I ran their new product innovation team there as well, where I honed my skills in creating brands from scratch. I created a lot of connections there and got the biggest promotion that I had my eye on for years.
Then, it didn’t end up what I thought it was going to be like, and I came to the realization that it wasn’t what I wanted for my life anymore. I left and two weeks later was on a plane ride to India on a silent meditation retreat in the Himalayas. I ended up staying in India for months and volunteering with a nonprofit in Delhi. After that, I was back in the US and had lunch with a friend who was a former beer distributor. Over the course of three conversations I came up with Bravazzi and founded the company. It was too great of an idea to pass up so I stopped traveling around the world and created Bravazzi!
ANNE: I started in the industry interning at MillerCoors in consumer insights, and returned to work in their insights group. I’ve always been into innovation and entrepreneurship, so I worked on their new product innovation team and essentially was able to be an entrepreneur within a large organization.
That’s where I met Sarah, and then I received the opportunity to move to CA, to work in the Campari group. While I was there, I was catching up with Sarah over breakfast and she had already founded Bravazzi and was just finishing up with the Bravazzi packaging. I immediately fell in love with the brand and decided to meet with Sarah again, when I had a half an hour before a wedding rehearsal dinner I was going to. We met and ended up chatting about it for hours, and needless to say I was late for the rehearsal dinner. I tried the Grapefruit flavor of Bravazzi and knew that it was good enough to leave corporate America and join the Bravazzi start up. This was three and a half years ago, and I was immediately sold on the brand.
What makes Bravazzi different from other Hard Sodas?
SARAH: It’s the ONLY Italian Soda with alcohol in it. It’s made with natural ingredients, real fruit and vegetable juices, and all natural sugar cane. It’s also brewed with a wine yeast (as opposed to a beer yeast)!
What’s your advice for business owners who are doing their best to navigate owning a business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Get back to the basics and try everything you know about marketing and branding 101
- Find other small business owners who you can partner with so you can help each other amplify your message
- Try to be as creative as possible—for example: think about how can pivot your sales team to make the most of their desk time right now
What are each of your favorite flavors?
SARAH: Clementina, which was the fourth flavor we added in the variety pack– try it with a splash of Aperol!
ANNE: Grapefruit– it’s leaving corporate America and joining a startup good!
^ Here’s a clear description of each of Bravazzi’s flavors, that you can find on Bravazzi.com. Fun fact: their branding and colors are inspired by the umbrellas that line the gorgeous coastlines of Italy.
Where to Find Bravazzi
I loved hearing those words from both Sarah and Anne when I asked them all about how Bravazzi came to be. There really is no other drink quite like it, and as soon as you taste it you will know what I mean!
They are busy expanding the distribution of Bravazzi and hope to see it become a national brand that is accessible in any major retailers and chains. I’m sure they’re not far off from that, but for now you can check their locator (scroll down on the Bravazzi website to find the locator) to see where you can scoop it up at a store near you.
Additionally, I wanted to share that right now through the end of May 2020, Bravazzi is donating $1 per case sold to the GoFundMe Small Business Relief Fund, to support small businesses during this time. So now is definitely the time to pick up a case or two if you’ve been thinking about it!
As always, let me know if you have any questions about the drinks or their story, and in case you were wondering, my favorite flavor is Blood Orange. 😊xx