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Interview: Emily and Dan Watson, BumbleZest

We caught up with food and drink entrepreneurs Emily and Dan Watson, founders of drinks range Bumblezest. We discuss the origins of the brand, the future and advice on starting a drinks business.

What Exactly is BumbleZest and why do we need it in our lives?

BumbleZest is an all-natural, soft drinks company. We started it in June 2017 to offer healthier on the go drink options to give their bodies a boost of great ingredients. We pack each bottle full of up to 9 different, unusual, functional ingredients from around the world in unique recipes to help consumers deal with the challenges of modern life.

Where did the name of the brand come from?

When we started BumbleZest we always knew we wanted to have environmentally friendly (non-plastic) packaging. We initially launched with just 3 health shots, all of which had a single drop of ethically sourced British honey in each bottle. We thought that 'Bumble' represented the friendly aspect of the brand and the bees, and we thought 'Zest' was what described our punchy drinks but also what we wanted our brand to represent: punchy, positive and a love for life. Our brand has adapted a lot since then, we now only have honey in one product of our 10 product range (all 9 other products are vegan).

Have you always been interested in food & drink startups?

No we haven't, before BumbleZest...

Dan: I'm a qualified chartered surveyor, I previously worked in commercial property in the city and then went on to run my own residential property development company. I experienced high levels of stress and anxiety in this line of work, which along with other health issues led me to develop BumbleZest.

Emily: I worked in marketing/advertising agencies on some exciting brands including Sainsbury’s (mainly Groceries Online), The Food Warehouse by Iceland, BSkyB, NowTV, Dixons Carphone, Time Inc., Battersea Dogs and Cats Home... There was a constant buzz and I loved working alongside all the fun, creative personalities. However, the role involved very long hours and was very fast-paced.

Where do you source your ingredients from?

Our ingredients are from all over the world.

Do you have a favourite wellness shot?

Dan: The Detox + Defend health shot is my daily drink first thing in the morning! It is packed full of purifying ingredients which gives me the boost to get up and go. It is our punchiest shot to taste and is packed with Apple Cider Vinegar, Milk Thistle and Activated Charcoal which if taken the morning after a pub session will sort you right out!

Do you have any plans for expansion?

We have a few really exciting new mixers up our sleeve.... watch this space.

Do you have any drinking suggestion serves or recipes for the drinks?

Below are also some suggestions of delicious cocktails made using some other BumbleZest drinks:

Light & Wavy

Ingredients: 40ml Duppy Share Spiced Rum 25ml Kumquat Liqueur 15ml Lime Juice Top Up with Ginger & Turmeric Bumblezest

Method: Add all ingredients except sparkling water to a shaker, add ice and give it a good shake. Pour it into a glass filled with ice and top up with Bumblezest Ginger and Turmeric sparkling water. Garnish with a ginger peel.

Bumble Spritz

Ingredients: 40ml Tequila 20ml Grapefruit Liqueur 5ml Aperol 10ml Lime Juice 10ml Honey, Top up with Bumblezest Tonic

Method: Add all ingredients except tonic to a shaker, add ice and give it a good shake. Pour it into a glass filled with ice and top up with Bumblezest Tonic. Garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel

We also recommend the below for some delicious Winter warmers:

A) FIRE + FORTIFY / REVIVE + RESTORE SHOT (BOTH OUR GINGER SHOTS) (Warming firey drink to help if you are feeling under the weather or need warming up from the inside out)

Method: Pour health shot in to mug, add hot water, a slice of lemon and an extra drop of honey

B} PROPEL + PROTECT SHOT (The Matcha shot could be hot as a hot alternative to a hot coffee in the morning or to combat an afternoon slump to get you through the rest of the day)

Method: Pour health shot in to mug, add hot water, an extra sprinkle of Matcha and a slice of Lemon.

What’s your favourite way to enjoy the BumbleZest CBD Tonic?

Our light, low sugar and calorie CBD tonic water is designed to be drunk either as a sophisticated and healthy non-alcoholic drink on its own or of course as a mixer with your favourite premium spirit. We love it over ice with my favourite gin (Silent Pool), our Tonic is a light zesty tonic designed to help enhance and compliment the taste of your chosen premium spirit.

What made you want to incorporate CBD into the range?

CBD was such a buzzy ingredient over in America and other places, we could just see it exploding. We also read a lot of genuine reviews from regular CBD takers and listened to how they said it had helped them. Being a small and dynamic company we can make decisions and turn things around quickly, so we jumped on it and added CBD to our most suited drinks from a functional point of view. We believe we were the first company in the UK to bring out a Light CBD Tonic Water. Reactions from customers have been great!

Are there any spin-off brands or further ranges in the pipeline?

We have a few really exciting new mixers up our sleeve.... watch this space.

Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in the food & drink startup world?

That there will never the perfect time to start your own business, you will never think your product is completely finished or your packaging is spot on, or that it is the right time in your life to take a jump from a steady income into the unknown. But our advice would be to trust your gut and just get on with it and do it. Make changes and tweaks along the way.

You can buy BumbleZest in Whole Foods, As Nature Intended and Planet Organic, as well as online at Holland & Barrett, Selfridges & Co and Ocado and directly through the BumbleZest website.

Website: | Instagram: @bumblezest


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