WTF is Switchel? The Two Women Disrupting the Beverage Industry
Co-founder and CEO Nikki Blank started making Switchel out of her home kitchen in Boston as a creative outlet to the 9-to-5 corporate routine and as a delicious functional health hack. Her co-workers quickly became curious about the many strange jars of liquids dominating her desk, and asked for a taste. The response was overwhelming — so much so that she started a switchel side hustle. After moving down to DC, Nikki met Josie Gibbens — an equally passionate switchel connoisseur and at-home producer. They launched Sip City in January 2018, selling out at Glen’s Garden Market within 15 minutes of launch.
We chatted with Nikki and Josie about their experience with Sip City:
How did you get started?
We have both been making switchel in our kitchens for years. After some long discussions, hours in the test kitchen, and a few switchel cocktail parties, we decided to just go for it and start Sip City! We joined Union Kitchen in August 2017, and launched our first product, switchel, in January.
Did you work in food before?
Neither of us have worked in food before but we both have dietary restrictions that forced us to be creative in how we cook and consume. That is what lead us on this journey to start Sip City.
What do you like about food?
We like how creative, collaborative and innovative food is, especially in DC. And we love that women are taking the lead in this space.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced to date?
Building a company from scratch brings daily challenges. The biggest challenge we’ve faced is that people don’t know what switchel is (yet), and because it’s such a versatile product, we fit into a variety of beverage categories.
What is a piece of advice you wish you’d been given before starting?
We wish people were 100% honest with their feedback. It’s great to hear positive reactions from family and friends, but sometimes the brutal truth is necessary. That being said, you need to have a super thick skin in this industry, and be ready for that brutal truth.
What does success look like to you?
We want to be more than a trend. We want to continue to honor the legacy and history of switchel, and get it into the hands of millions of people, across the globe.
In honor of Women’s History Month we are featuring a different female entrepreneur (or two!) every week! Check back in next week to hear from another Union Kitchen maker about their philosophies, struggles, and successes.