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Latina-owned infusions company aims to make imbibing healthier

Two best friends’ move towards healthier beverages and alcohol-free drinks inspired them to launch Salut! Botanical Drink Infusions. With names like “Berry Beautiful” and “Carrot Cakewalk,” the products are all natural and designed to be an alternative to overly processed offerings with unrecognizable ingredients.

Hannah Matthew Martinez and her best friend, Hannah Brock Silva, appreciated a good cocktail. After work at an ad agency, they usually enjoyed their favorite drink, a margarita. But as time went on and they started focusing on their health, and imbibing healthier, they grew tired of all the added sugars and syrups in typical bar drinks.

Switching to low-cal options like vodka soda, however, meant sacrificing the flavor they both craved. They soon discovered infusions, dried fruits and herbs added to liquids (commonly used in teas), and their company, Salut! Botanical Drink Infusions, was born in New York City. The infusions, with names like “Berry Beautiful” and “Carrot Cakewalk,” are all natural and designed to be an alternative to overly processed products with unrecognizable ingredients, Matthew said.

“All those healthy products that are mostly out there have all these chemicals or weird ingredients that you cannot even pronounce,” she continued. “The good thing about the infusions is that they extract all those nutrients and [add] sweetness to the drink without excessive calories. It's a healthier way of drinking.”

The best friends’ move towards healthier beverages and alcohol-free drinks points to a growing trend. A Nielsen study found that from 2020 to 2021, nonalcoholic beverage sales increased 33% to $331 million, and there was a 315% increase in online nonalcoholic beverage sales.

Matthew and Brock, who launched the company in 2019, experienced this boost in online sales during the pandemic. “We started being able to generate more sales as these people were searching for healthier options,” Matthew explained. “The whole world was like ‘we have to be healthier.’ So, I do think that's how the pandemic affected us in a good way in that sense.”

While the pandemic threw their business a lifeline, getting the business off the ground challenged them in ways they weren’t expecting.

“When you [launch] a product, especially a food product, you don't know all the requirements,” Matthew admitted. “You think you're just going to assemble some bottles and make recipes and drink cocktails every night—and it's completely the opposite. We were grabbing boxes, moving from one place to another and sweating.”

Financing proved to be another challenge. While their business benefitted from their marketing and graphic design backgrounds, which helped them save money, scaling up the company—from renting commercial space to launching new products—required more funding.

For Latina-owned businesses, loans are often difficult to acquire. According to a report by the National Women’s Business Council, only 4% of all small business loans from mainstream financial institutions go to women. Therefore, Matthew and Brock self-funded Salut! and kept their full-time jobs to do it. Family support has also been critical to their success.

“Hannah's [Brock's] family has been super supportive of us as well,” Matthew said. “They help us with anything we need. They have even shipped boxes for us, helped us make products, and my dad helped help us with a loan so we could order bottles.”

With that support came a huge sense of gratitude and the desire to make their parents proud. Matthew's parents immigrated from Cuba, and Brock's from Colombia, making many sacrifices along the way.

Matthew, reflecting on the risks involved in starting one’s own business, said, “They have worked really hard all their lives. I'm like, ‘What am I doing? I should be concentrating on my full-time job and paying the bills to be able to support them in the future.’”

Despite Matthew's doubts, she doesn’t let it stop her and she encouraged other entrepreneurs to not let fears stop them either. She also suggested that aspiring business owners reach out to fellow Latino entrepreneurs for advice.

You can share your stories, and you can get advice from other small businesses, which I think is really important for you to stay motivated,” she said. “I think that knowing that there are other people going through the same issues as you and your business, you can learn a lot from them. So, send emails and don't be afraid.”

With a strong support system and passion for their product, the future for Salut! Botanical Drink Infusions appears bright. The company became profitable in 2021, and they’ve hired their first employee.

Salut! to that.

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