For Kara Goldin, inspiration struck with a child’s simple request.
“One day I asked my daughter what she wanted to drink,” the former AOL marketing executive says. “She went for a sugary beverage and I asked her to pick again.”
That time, Goldin’s daughter reached for her mother’s drink – water with a slice of lemon. “That’s when I realized there were no truly healthy beverages for my kids to drink,” she says.
Thus was founded HINT Water, which is all-natural water with no calories, no sugar, and just a hint of flavor – hence the name. As CEO and founder of the San Francisco-based HINT, Goldin promotes the beverage as a tasty, refreshing alternative to sodas, juice, and other sweetened drinks.
Let The Good Times Pour
HINT has continued to gain traction since its inception in 2004, and is rumored to be a favorite beverage of celebrities such as former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham as well as “The Hills” actress Lauren Conrad.
Today the company is hoping to double its sales from last year – if successful, that would total about $6 million., HINT now has approximately 20 employees within its quarters. That number includes Goldin’s husband, Theo Goldin, a former intellectual property attorney at Netscape, who is now HINT’s chief operating officer.
Upscale grocery retailer Whole Foods has become one of HINT’s biggest purveyors, with all 13 flavors sold at outlets nationwide. Goldin says Whole Foods is a natural match for HINT: “Whole Foods is the place to be for healthy and nutritious products, which is right in line with our belief that HINT is at the heart of a healthy lifestyle.”
That said, the company is also pressing into mainstream markets and can now be found at Costco, Ralphs, and Kroger. HINT also sells its hibiscus vanilla, watermelon, honeydew hibiscus, blackberry, mango grapefruit, pomegranate-tangerine, lime, raspberry-lime, peppermint, pear, tropical punch, strawberry kiwi, and cucumber waters by the case at its website, www.drinkhint.com.
Balancing Business and Parenthood
As a mother, Goldin knows the demands of maintaining successful personal and professional lives. “It’s all about time management,” she says. “We hear it all the time, but it really is true.”
The key to managing a budding business as well as a family, she says, is keeping a tight schedule. “Of course, there will always be unexpected occasions, but as long as you have a schedule and a list of what needs to be done, it will make it all that much easier.”
Trusted coworkers and employees make all the difference, Goldin says: “Work with people you trust! You have to be able to step away from the business at one point and trust that things will run smoothly without you.”
Though her business is extremely important to her, Goldin says her family will always have first priority. Her confidence in her staff is essential, allowing her to attend her daughter’s school functions without fretting about leaving the business behind.
“A lot of it comes down to time management, but also to setting your priorities,” she says. “I make it a point to eat dinner with my family every night and try not to miss important occasions at school and home. While this is an incredibly hard time to run a business and you need to be completely involved, it is important to take a step back and realize that there are other things going on around you.”
Succeeding In Tough Times
Goldin expresses confidence when asked about operating under the constraints of a troubled economy. She credits smart business decisions as the base for HINT’s success. “We hired very knowledgeable people to help us build our business,” she says. “Another huge part of creating a successful business is to have great distribution.”
Whole Foods, she says, has been instrumental in distribution success.
Goldin is also a believer in branding, which comes as no surprise given her marketing background. “Brand awareness becomes a huge factor in success,” she says. “HINT just partnered with Women’s Professional Soccer to become the official water sponsor of the inaugural season. This brings HINT Water to a brand-new audience that we have been working to reach. The more consumer groups you can reach, the more successful your business will become.”