Local Vendor Spotlight: StarNectar
Eric Wick has created a light fruit drink personalized for you based on when you were born.
Many people, especially those in the Silicon Valley, have dreamt at one time or another of starting a business, whether it be a roadside produce stand, a social media network or a small bakery armed with a killer cookie recipe. It’s entrepreneurship that has made our part of California what it is today — it’s the entrepreneurial-minded individuals who’ve taken a risk and followed a dream and it’s their products we showcase on our shelves and share with you, our customers.
Eric Wick is one of those entrepreneurial-minded individuals. He is the founder and creator of StarNectar, a San Jose, Calif.-based beverage company which produces an all-natural, reduced calorie light fruit drink that’s sweetened with the no- to low-caloric sugar alternatives: all-natural Stevia and cane juice. You can get three free this week [UPDATED — Feb. 23 – March 1, 2011] with your coupon when you spend $30 or more.
It’s not simply the nutritional data and flavor of the drink that will pique your interest; Eric has designed these drinks with you in mind, tailoring them to individuals based on their birth sign, or zodiac sign.
Having always liked new, unique fruit and tea beverages, Eric says the idea came to him one day while drinking a SoBe beverage.
“I’ve always been more marketing-minded when considering new products, and I thought to myself ‘what if I created a juice drink that’s even more personalized for consumers and detail flavor profiles based on when they were born?’,” said Eric.
After conducting research to validate the idea for himself and potential consumers, Eric hired a food scientist from Santa Cruz, Calif., to work out recipes using main ingredients, such as black currant and wild cherry, and functional additives, such as Yerba Mate leaf extract, that fall under birth signs based on ancient Greek medical astrology. With mixology under way, and after several successful focus group samplings, the company made its first production run of StarNectar in October 2009 at a bottling facility in Watsonville, Calif.
“What we’ve done is created 12 different drinks for the 12 different birth signs. Each is infused with herbs and products harvested during the time frame of a person’s birth sign,” said Eric. “The ancient Greeks used a medical astrology practice, believing these products held medical benefits for individuals born under the same sign, and while its ancient and not necessarily in practice anymore, I’ve found it to be an intriguing way to generate interest and loyalty in a product.”
While some combinations are yet to be finalized, Eric and the food scientist have successfully designed flavors for the birth signs Aries, Aquarius and Scorpio, as well as Libra, Virgo, Gemini, which are the three you can get free this week with your coupon when you spend $30 or more. Another set of uniquely profiled drinks are due out in January.
The three infused drinks you can try on us this week (with your coupon when you spend $30 or more):
- Gemini (birth sign for May 21-June 21): A pear and kiwi fruit juice drink that’s also lightly infused with Fenugreek, Cascara, Valerian and L-Theanine, an amino acid found in tea plants. (This flavor is a Sigona’s favorite!)
- Virgo (birth sign for Aug. 23 – Sept. 22): A white peach and green tea fruit juice drink that’s lightly infused, or optimized, with thyme extract, green tea ECGC (potent antioxidant) and Shitake mushroom extract.
- Libra (birth sign for Sept. 23 – Oct. 22): A strawberry and kiwi fruit juice drink that’s lightly infused with raspberry and hibiscus extract, as well as Damiana leaf extract and L-Carnitine, a nutrient that helps the body turn fat into energy.
- NEW! Aquarius (birth sign for Jan. 20th – Feb. 18th): A blueberry and lavender light fruit drink that’s also infused with three herbs and five custom health enhancements, including nutmeg, ginseng and Yerba Mate leaf extract, which is said to provide natural energy, as well as increased stamina and mental alertness.
“The stars must have been aligned for Eric the day he walked into Sigona’s because I happened to be the first employee he approached to ask who he might speak to about possibly selling his drinks in our store,” said John Nava, specialty foods buyer for Sigona’s. “I tried the pear and kiwi drink first and the taste made me feel like I was standing in a pear orchard during harvest. It had such a fantastic flavor that I invited Eric upstairs that very day to meet Carmelo Sigona and Christine Thompson, our marketing manager, to talk about bringing in StarNectar to sell in our stores and feature in our e-newsletter.
“It has all the characteristics of a drink our customers are looking for,” Nava continued. “It’s one of the first fruit juice drinks that’s both 100% all-natural and contains less than 100 calories per bottle, whereas other fruit drinks can have 120-140 calories per an 8 oz serving size and some diet versions use artificial sweeteners. StarNectar is flavorful, light and refreshing.”
To answer the demand for more healthy fruit juice drinks, Eric sweetens StarNectar with Stevia, a natural sweetener, and a little cane juice. Stevia is an all-natural herb that can be 30 times sweeter than sugar, so a little goes a long way.
“There’s also the added bonus of the drinks being customized with functional additives based on ancient medical astrology and when you were born,” said Eric. “This makes the drinks fun, intriguing and beneficial.
Eric, who grew up in the Bay Area, has committed to using local and domestic products and services, such as the ingredients, bottles, labels and distributors, to develop his business. You’ll see Eric sampling his light fruit drinks in our stores in the coming weeks, and we hope you get a chance to meet him in person. It’s not everyday you get to meet the entrepreneurial mastermind behind a brand, and we love that working with small, local vendors, such as Eric, gives us the opportunity to introduce you to the faces behind our products. In the meantime, check out the StarNectar page on Facebook.
Don’t forget to print your coupon and come in this week [UPDATED: Feb. 23 – March 1, 2011] for three free bottles of StarNectar with a purchase of $30 or more.