The vision behind Petal Sparkling Botanical Blend, was to deliver something better than what its founder and CEO Candice Crane’s generation grew up drinking.
They were told that diet sodas would make them skinny and were healthier than normal sodas. But, as Crane said in a Forbes article in 2018, there has been a conscious shift in thinking about how we fuel our bodies. So, in 2017, she bottled up her first blends and set out to make unhealthy sugary drinks a thing of the past by offering a healthy, tasty alternative – while honouring her two grandmothers and their tea-making tradition.
Crane was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her grandmothers who both used to vacation by the ocean in Plettenburg Bay, shared the sacred tradition of 4-o’clock teatime. They would make their own teas; grandmother René’s favourite being rose petal and grandmother Zelda’s being mixed floral tea blends which she sewed into sachets. “I always looked up to my grandmothers and their ability to run a household and family – that is for me the building block of any successful business,” she says.
Crane’s family moved to Chicago in 1987 when she was only 3 years old. It was her father’s job in manufacturing and packaging that took them there and Crane learned a lot from him. “Entrepreneurship definitely runs through my blood. After years of working in marketing, I decided to become a full-time botanical alchemist,” she smiles.
Alchemy had been a long-time hobby of Crane’s and she has always been fascinated with botanicals. She started to look at ways of incorporating antioxidants and ancient botanical essences and elixirs into a sparkling water and succeeded in creating a healthy beverage with fun vibes.
A Brand That Pops
Petal is a certified organic beverage. It comes in six flavours (namely Original Rose, Mint Rose, Lychee Rose, Elderberry White Tea Flower, Peach Marigold, and Lemongrass Dandelion) and each can of Petal contains 2-3 grams of organic agave syrup. “I wanted a natural, slightly sweet taste – and consumers generally hate Stevia,” says Crane.
When it comes to tasting and giving feedback, Crane’s two daughters (4 and 7 years old) are among her toughest critics. “I used to make rosewater with my girls when they were younger and their favourite flavours are Original Rose and Peach Marigold,” she says. Rose water is, in fact, a red thread in Crane’s business. “I love that Cleopatra drank rose water and that rose water vibrates at the highest frequency – just like Petal takes you to a higher frequency,” she says.
She was thrilled to be given the opportunity to create a brand from scratch, and the visual identity of Petal was an important part of it all. So, drawing from experience from the family business that used to specialize in end-of-line packaging equipment for the beverage industry, Crane and her team came up with a show-stopping design which, according to leading US distributors, makes Petal pop off the shelf.
Juggling It All
Petal is sold in 1300 shops across the US as well as on Amazon. Although Crane now has a branding manager and a marketing team, life for the ambitious entrepreneur is very busy. “Since we’re still a start-up, I handle many sides of the business myself,” she explains. A typical day starts with exercise at 5.30 am. Endorphins set the tone for the rest of the day, allowing for Crane to focus on the business as well as on her family which also counts a husband who is a lawyer.
Crane’s father is also involved in Petal and having an older, wiser person to lend an ear and help out has proved to be invaluable to her. “My dad is an important engine in the business and, for example, when COVID-19 hit, he stayed calm, drawing from the challenges his own business has faced – such as Apartheid back in South Africa,” she says. Crane’s father also backed her financially. “We had some great investors but to be honest, it has been difficult to raise money as a woman and first-time entrepreneur,” she says.
Crane is a little tired of the attention she is getting as a female entrepreneur and a mother. “I get annoyed that it’s still a thing and that we even need to address it. When will society realize that we can excel in both?” she wonders. When someone told Crane she couldn’t be a mother and a CEO at the same time, her answer was simple: “Grab some popcorn and watch me!”
So far, it is going really well – and with her determination and commitment to making Petal an outstanding product, Crane is a role model for how to build your own life fearlessly.