How to Save the Economy with Craft Beverages from Siren Shrubs

Looking for a new way to solve rampant inflation and a looming recession? Try using shrubs. In this case, the sweetened vinegar-based syrup infused with fruit juice, herbs, and spices, that is sometimes used in mixed drinks. Shrubs were popular during America’s colonial era. In light of today’s craft cocktail scene, they are having a bit of a renaissance. Mindy McCord, from Siren Shrubs, and her co-founder Layne Cozzolino are using shrubs to build a business and save the economy.  

Mindy McCord and Layne Cozzolino, co-founders of Siren Shrubs
Mindy McCord and Layne Cozzolino, co-founders of Siren Shrubs

 

Good Neighbors

Mindy and Layne started their business in 2016 after experimenting with a shrub recipe using produce available from local farms near their home base in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. They are the kind of people who make great friends and good neighbors. They go out of their way to support each other and their neighbors. This commitment to their community has led to opportunities for local wealth creation that traditional business models ignore. 

Growing a Business 

Well before the economic downturn of 2022, those home kitchen experiments quickly turned into a passion for their product. Once they knew they were on to something delicious, they became determined to build a business. Along the way, these two friends weren’t afraid to take risks, try new things, and ask for help when needed. Consequently, they were able to move past the start-up phase into that of a scaling business. And, with scale comes the curve balls. One of their biggest lessons was learning how to scale their recipes. Specifically, learning to take small flavor experiments and make them work in a large-scale co-packer facility. It was a heartfelt loss for Mindy to throw in the towel on their idea for a shrub made with currents. The little fruit with loads of pectin just couldn’t make the leap.    

Sowing the Seeds of Wealth

As a company, Siren Shrubs is committed to community wealth building. Mindy and Layne have strong ties to the local food community in Wisconsin. Mindy said that in order to build wealth within their community, “we uplift people around us through the business choices we make.” For shrubs, that means working with Wisconsin farmers. Every shrub flavor is a partnership with a Wisconsin farm. Some of the farmers they work with are also their neighbors; those relationships are vital to Mindy. So, when there is a surplus crop at a nearby farm, they will collaborate with the farmer to see if the item lends itself to a good shrub. This kind of collaboration has resulted in a benefit to the farmer and the shrubs. It is a non-traditional approach and often isn’t the easiest path forward. For example, purchasing “flavor profiles” would be easier by comparison to working with fresh produce. But Mindy and Layne stand by their choices because they know it makes a better product and benefits the farmers in their community. Ultimately, they have a lifestyle brand they are proud of and can see their impact on the world around them. As a consequence of these non-traditional choices, their community has a resilience that most large corporations do not provide. 

Value with Non-Traditional Businesses

Not everyone agrees with those trade-offs. Mindy and Layne have met plenty of investors who don’t see the point of doing business like this, asserting the traditional assumption that success is based on finding the lowest-cost ingredients to make as much money as possible. Mindy understands this perspective, but she is confident in their chosen path. “It’s not that either path is better than the other. But it’s our path. And we’ve gained confidence over the years in being okay with not being typical.” Their path is better in at least one way: for every dollar spent at a small business, 68 percent funnels back into the community. This value is compounded by their collaboration with local farmers. 

As women and mothers, Mindy and Layne also realized they have to make space for supporting each other as moms as well as co-founders. Parents need support in ways that many companies do not recognize. Families and priorities outside the workplace are a fact of many people’s lives. Acknowledging that is key and is part of the reason the two work so well together. Providing family support removes a financial barrier to running a small business. It is a cost that many large companies ignore.

Shrubs as an Inclusive Experience 

Mindy says Siren Shrubs is excited about promoting “inclusive drinking” in the beverage space. With Siren Shrubs, everyone can have a “cocktail” while socializing, regardless of their drinking preferences or restrictions. The Siren Shrubs website provides a long list of recipes for beautiful and delicious drinks, with or without alcohol, because it’s about creating options for a fun and inclusive experience for everyone. 

Find Out More

You can buy Siren Shrubs in a variety of flavors as a concentrate or cans of sparkling water. Their Rhubarb Sparkling Shrub was included in our Box of Jubilation, and you can discover more delicious flavors on their website at Siren Shrubs.

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