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Spreading the love through water: The Love Bottle story

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Masking Tape Messages

What if there was a way to improve your physical, emotional and spiritual health, help save the planet, contribute to nonprofits, and encourage the growth of manufacturing jobs in the US, all at the same time?

2016-11-19_A7A0470What if it was as easy as taking a drink of water out of a Love Bottle?

The brainchild of Minna Yoo, Love Bottle was founded on the belief that water is central to wellness.

When Minna was working as a nutritionist in San Francisco in 2007, she had started putting small pieces of masking tape on the glass jars she was drinking out of and writing the word “love” on them.

“There was this idea that water has a memory. So, water is receptive to [the] words, pictures, energy around it. … I really love that concept. The idea that water was effected by it’s surroundings. … And so I started writing ‘love’ on all my bottles.”

Gradually, more words like sing, play and fun were transformed into masking-tape-Sharpie stickers and placed with care on her water bottles. Then, one day, it came to her in a flash. In an instant she saw the whole company and knew exactly what she needed to do.

“I bought the domain name that night and I gave notice [at her job] the next day and started on a whole new journey.”

Over the course of the following year, Minna refined her business plan, established supply chain logistics, and solidified the values that would define the culture of Love Bottle—a commitment to health, positivity, and environmental sustainability. The company grew over the next three years, Minna had her first child and brought her sister in to help out. Then, in 2011, Minna, her family, and the company decided to move from San Francisco to Portland.

“For a small business it’s a lot harder to be a little fish in that city. Here, I felt like I was in this welcoming nest with all these—like—‘Come join us! We’ve got food and beer! And network and we’ll support you!’ It was really amazing.”image (1)

Moving Home

As she got settled in Portland, Minna couldn’t help but think more and more about a trip that she had taken to China back in 2009–The smog, the poor economic conditions, the never ending blocks of manufacturing plants. She started asking herself, “Do I want to sell a million bottles this way? Is this how I want this company to grow?”

Minna originally wanted to manufacture the bottles in the US, but wasn’t able to find anyone that could make less than 2-3 million at a time—far more than the 10,000 that she needed. But, as time passed and the company grew, the contradiction between the values and actions of the company started to weigh heavy on Minna’s mind.

“I was pregnant with my second child and I was like, ‘Maybe it’s time to close down shop. We’ve done a good job. This was fun.’ And people were like, ‘No, you gotta go for it! You can do it!’ And so, we started talking to people.”

At this point, serendipity stepped in and the universe aligned in favor of Minna’s vision for Love Bottle. Through aIMG_3566 series of chance encounters, Minna was able to find a glass manufacturer in the US that was excited to make the bottles for her. The only problem was that they still couldn’t make less than a quarter million units at a time. It was just too expensive to shut down all the equipment and swap out the molds for less. Not being the type to give in easily, Minna got to work.

“It was a good challenge for us. We were able to figure out the funding. Kickstarter was part of that. We couldn’t rely on Kickstarter to do all of it. It would have been way too risky at that point. So, we had to find funding and then Kickstarter helped it.”

With funding secured and a successful Kickstarter campaign, the next evolution of Love Bottle was poised to launch. Still, there were a lot of people that didn’t understand what Minna was doing.

“So many times along the way there were people like, ‘What are you doing? The process is moving abroad.’ You know, ‘Get it cheaper. Go to China.’”

But Minna knew that in order for Love Bottle to be a company that she could be proud of, it was of the utmost importance for there to be a more direct connection between how the bottles were made and the message that they stood for. She had to make sure that love was going into the product, from its birth all the way to the customer’s lips. With the glass manufacturer locked in, she scoured the US looking for the right people to make the ceramic, silicon and wire components of her product.

There were times when she thought, “‘I don’t know if this is gonna happen.’ But we totally found the right team and the right people and it all kind of came together.”

In October of 2015, with the manufacturers set to go, Love Bottle was relaunched as a 100% US made product—complete with the raised heart on the chest of the bottle and the “U R Love” message on the bottom that Minna had always wanted.

Through this shift to domestic manufacturing, the company has added both connectivity and value. “It’s really great to visit them and be part of that and know that we’re providing jobs.”LB_Minna With Bottles 1

Creating Community

Love Bottle’s supply chain isn’t the only place that you’ll find them reaching out and supporting the broader community. Since it’s inception, Love Bottle has been committed to partnering with nonprofits. Minna has a firm belief that, “You can’t say, ‘I’ll do that when I can afford it.’ Because it’s a slippery slope when you do that. You have to make it happen from the get-go.”

With this philosophy in mind, Love Bottle has consistently donated to a variety of organizations including: Clean Water Action, the Arbor Day Foundation, and Feeding America. Currently, they’re working with Global Water to help get clean water to school children in Guatemala, and are looking into ways they can expand their impact to the conflict-torn regions of Syria and Jordan.

Another manifestation of Love Bottle’s commitment to social and environmental sustainability is their recent B-Corp certification. When Minna first heard about B-Corps, she immediately thought, “‘That’s our people! That’s what our whole company has been about! Now they have a name for it. Let’s join it and be a part of it!”

So, last summer, Love Bottle went through and passed the rigorous assessment process and officially entered the B-Corp community. With this new support network in place, Love Bottle is experiencing a revitalized sense of optimism—spurred by the knowledge that there are a growing number of businesses, like them, who are willing to do what it takes to make the world a better place.

Whether it’s promoting wellness, supporting jobs, giving to those in need, or saving the environment, Love Bottle is striving to do all they can to improve the lives of those they touch—all through a simple glass bottle and a sip of water.

For more information visit www.lovebottle.com, like them on facebook and follow them on twitter and instagram.

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Kyle Fordham