Drink Water was co-founded by professional snowboarders as a response to energy drink marketing in action sports. We don't sell water, we simply promote it.
Austin Smith, one of our founders, was offered a six-figure deal to ride for an energy drink company. Pro athletes are paid endorsers because they serve as marketing influencers to kids--and Austin asked himself if he would feel OK marketing something that he himself wouldn't drink, nor would he want kids to drink. So he said no to the sponsor, no to the money. But instead of simply being a hater, he decided to tell the truth, and promote something positive, that he did actually drink: water. And, when possible, from the tap. The actionable advice here: stand up for what you believe.
We started writing Drink Water on our snowboards, a friend designed a logo, another friend gave us a screen printer, and we started making stuff. We were honored as people we respect spread the message, wore our logo, and supported the cause.
We created a small business, and started offering our merch on our website, the only place to get our stuff. Our merch (shirts, hoodies, bottles, jackets, hats) all exist to spread our simple message: Drink Water. Since we advocate drinking water, we decided to do something about people on Earth that lack access to clean water, so we donate 10% of our gross margins to water.org to help them fight the global water crisis.
Our website, run on Shopify, has become the venue for a direct relationship between our community of supporters, backers, and water drinkers. We've been amazed to see the kind response, and sales, from far-away places, all over the planet. Our brand today exists as a global movement of people who back the cause, not a set geographical demographic who live close to a store. ECommerce has opened the world to the spread of an idea, and we are grateful for the relationship it has allowed us build, the platform to spread the word.
Actionable advice: If you stand up for something, eCommerce allows for people all over the world to stand with you.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our first sales came from inbound interest due to coverage of our movement. The action sports community is tight-knit, and so once we began wearing the Drink Water logo, it became a conversation piece. Magazines reported on our social initiative, and when we launched our site, they posted articles announcing the availability of the product.
Our best and only channel for sales is our website.
Our best channel for spreading the word, building the brand, and generating demand for our logo'd merchandise is Instagram. Our following there, of 41k people, is relatively modest for a brand. But, our community is engaged, interactive, and stands with us both in social media, and in sales.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
We have connected our Shopify store to Shipworks and Endicia, for shipping and postage. We packed the first 500 orders ourselves, and wrote a handwritten thank you note in each! As sales grew, we partnered with a friend with a warehouse and his team fulfills our orders. Automating the back-end has been a massive contributor to our success--it allows us to focus on spreading our message, building our movement, and ensures that our orders arrive on time!
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
#1: Stand for something.
#2: Create mechanisms for people around the world to stand with you.
#3. Spread the message you stand for, and do it with the ethos that got you started in the first place: honesty.
#4. Consider every touch point of your brand--ethical product supply chain, defined and comprehensive aesthetics, social media, PR, digital user experience, packaging, customer service, and fulfillment--and ensure they all level up to your ethos.
#5: Automate every single part of your business possible.
#6. Give away money.
#7. Stand for something.