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‘Necessity's the mother of invention, right?’ Little Me Tea founder on the rise of drinks momtrepreneurs

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By Ben Bouckley+

17-Jun-2014
Last updated the 17-Jun-2014 at 18:21 GMT

'Moms can't find the kind of products they'd like to give their own children': Melinda Hicks on the rise of moms turned entrepreneurs
'Moms can't find the kind of products they'd like to give their own children': Melinda Hicks on the rise of moms turned entrepreneurs

Moms remain the traditional guardians of their kids’ diets, and Little Me Tea founder Melinda Hicks tells us the rise of moms turned beverage entrepreneurs is as natural as her products.

Little Me Tea (Big Time Tea is the small family company behind the brand) sells the only USDA-certified organic teas for kids sweetened with fruits and vegetables. All products are non-GMO, caffeine-free claim the lowest sugar content on the market with 25 calories/6.75oz box and no added sugar.

Although it is small Little Me Tea is claiming rapid growth – Hicks tells me that in Whole Foods Market, where the brand launched, it sells 8-10 three packs of per week, per store on average during peak season.

Poised to launch two new flavors at Expo East

But she insists the product, in tropical and grape flavors, sustains itself. Little Me Tea is available across around 30 US states and is launching two new tea flavors at Expo East this September in Baltimore, as it targets 25% sales growth by the end of 2014.

BeverageDaily.com has noticed the rise and rise of the mom-turned-entrepreneur in recent months – perhaps because kids drinks have been neglected until now in major markets. London’s Rebel Kitchen is another interesting example in the kids’ drinks space.

We asked Hicks if this grassroots trend was born out of consumer distrust for ‘big brands’ and their desire for authenticity? “Necessity is the mother of invention, right?” she replies.

“I think what we’re seeing is that moms can’t find the kinds of products they’d like to give to their own children, and from that need come great new, innovative products that other moms are responding to because they, in turn, have their own needs met by these products," Hicks adds.

“When consumers can connect to the story of how a brand came to be, they feel a greater connection with that brand. These are real people – real moms – making products that they give day in and day out to their own children; consumers respond to that and they know they can trust these brands,” she says.

That difficult sell to two people...the kid and the adult!

Asked how she manages that difficult sell in the kids segment to two people – namely the adult and the child – Hicks says tremendous grassroots support was critical.

“So many parents were really struggling to find something healthier in the kids set, so when they discover our product, they become loyal fans very quickly,” she says.

“Kids also claim this drink as their own. Parents tell me their kids won’t let them drink their Little Me Tea. The kids say ‘that’s my tea’. It’s something special to them,” Hicks adds.

She also insists perceptions of tea as an adult drink are changing, with parents telling Little Me that they served chamomile, peppermint and herbal teas to their children before they found the brand.

“When those parents hear about Little Me Tea but can’t find it in their local stores, they’re asking store managers to carry it,” Hicks says.

“So if any buyer has the perception that tea isn’t for kids, this kind of demand is quickly showing them that our product will be welcomed by consumers,” she adds.

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