Made in New England: Meet Bill Creelman of Spindrift Sparkling Water
Growing up on a farm in Western Massachusetts, local Bill Creelman was raised on fresh, in-season food. However, like most kids, that didn’t stop him from developing a pesky soda addiction. When Bill started raising a family of his own, he craved a beverage made with real ingredients, something he could feel good about his kids drinking. So he got to work in the kitchen and Spindrift was born, serving up sparkling water using only real produce—from branch to bottle (or bubbles as Bill likes to say). We got to chat with Bill about his lab-free approach to production, his relationship with local farmers and his dedication to keeping it simple.
R.K.: What made you start your brand? How did you first get the idea?
B.C.: When I was younger, I had a Diet Coke addiction. I wanted something refreshing, made with real, simple ingredients I could understand and feel good about. Something I could let my kids drink. After much trial and error, and countless hours in the kitchen (not a lab), we achieved a simple solution: fresh fruit and triple-filtered sparkling water. From there, Spindrift has continued to evolve from the same basic principles.
R.K.: What makes Spindrift unique/something you want readers to know?
B.C.: Spindrift is the only sparkling water to use only real fruit. From branch to bubbles, we work with family farms across the country to pick the most complimentary fruit to make our sparkling water refreshing and delicious.
There are no sparkling water brands on the market that only use real ingredients. While many have taken the leap away from artificial flavors or sweeteners, many use traces of “natural flavors” or essences and oils—it’s not the real fruit on the label. We are proud to celebrate the fruit, berry and vegetable farms across that America that supply us our ingredients—no labs added.
R.K.: How do you source your ingredients?
B.C.: Real fruit is the heart of our brand; therefore seasonality plays a large role in how our fruits are sourced. We work with real farmers across the country to carefully choose our ingredients and make sure they will sustain our real fruit promise. For example, our grapefruits, lemons, oranges, limes and strawberries are from a third generation citrus farming family in California and Arizona.
R.K.: What’s your favorite flavor?
B.C.: That’s a tough question to answer—it’s like choosing a favorite kid! Many days I drink one of each: Orange-Mango and Strawberry for breakfast, Blackberry with lunch, and Lemon for a mid-afternoon treat.
R.K.: What did you have to learn the hard way? Any particular challenges along the way?
B.C.: Trailblazing in the sparkling water space with a product that doesn’t use natural or artificial flavors presented a few challenges. For one, we had to completely recreate the production process to an evolved, proprietary version than what others were already doing.
We also work closely with our farm partners to find specific strands of each fruit that will sustain uniform flavor across all our products. We learned the ‘hard’ way that we are only as good as our worst product, and will not rush to put out a flavor for the sake of product innovation; rather, we’ll give it whatever amount of time and research it takes to build a product consumers will enjoy no matter what can they have in their hands.
R.K.: Has there been a benefit to starting your business in the New England area that you don’t think you’d get elsewhere?
B.C.: I grew up on a farm in Western Massachusetts where all the food was unprocessed, seasonal and fresh. The relationships I’ve built with farmers, entrepreneurs and other local businesses in New England have truly helped the company continue to grow.
R.K.: What would you love to see in the New England food and wellness scene that you don’t now?
B.C.: I would like to see entrepreneurs utilizing locally sourced produce and shortening their brands’ ingredient lists. I want more companies committing to, not just real ingredients—that would be the dream—but more simplicity and transparency. Consumers deserve to know more about what they’re eating far beyond what they can read on a nutrition label.
R.K.: What other local food and wellness brands are you a fan of?
R.K.: Who has been the greatest influence or role model in starting your business?
R.K.: What’s your favorite quote or business mantra?
B.C.: Simplify to amplify.
R.K.: Where do you hope to see your brand in the next two years?
B.C.: We have very ambitious growth goals for the next few years. With each passing year, consumers are more cognizant and curious to learn about what’s inside the food and beverages they consume, so that is definitely in our favor. We don’t only want to be at the top of the category in terms of retail sales, but we also want to be recognized as the brand that pioneered the real ingredients conversation.
R.K.: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own wellness or food business?
B.C.: Identify what truly matters to your brand—for us it was simplicity and authenticity—and develop the product or company to speak to those values. Everything you do along the way will tie back to that purpose, and further strengthen the brand ethos alongside creating a product consumers can get behind.
R.K.: Here at The W.E.L.L. Summit we like to say, “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” How would you describe your vibe?
B.C.: If you ask around these walls, people will say I’m passionate. I am the biggest champion of our brand and our people, everyone from the farmers to our HQ team and retail partners, and strive to build a brand we can all feel good about.
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