Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Cygne Cooper, co-founder of Hiyo, located in Venice, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Hiyo is a non-alcoholic social tonic crafted with organic adaptogens, nootropics, and botanicals to be a better-than-alcohol alternative. It's a fruity sparkling seltzer packed with good-for-you ingredients like ashwagandha, l-theanine, and lion's mane. Hiyo's available in three flavors: Peach Mango, Blackberry Lemon, and Watermelon Lime, and each can are only 25 calories and 5 grams of sugar.
Our customers are the health-seeking hedonists--those who are sober-curious, self-care cravers, or elixir experimenters (a.k.a. anyone looking for a healthier way to unwind). But, we're finding that women across the U.S. in the 25-45 age range really resonate with our product and mission as part of their lifestyle.
Tell us about yourself
My work at Hiyo began when two of my close friends from college, my co-founders Evan (CEO) and George (CRO), approached me with an idea for a functional sparkling seltzer positioned as a non-alcoholic alternative for the social occasion. They had built the business concept after a shared experience with family members experiencing alcohol-related issues and realized the white space in the market, which called for a better alternative to alcohol. Though they had a business plan, they needed someone to build the brand. At the time, I was working for a global entertainment and media conglomerate, Endeavor, as a Senior Designer. During my time with the firm, I built and defined a network of global brands activating across the globe in experiential activations, large-scale events, and online. I began helping them on the side with simple projects like logo and identity development, packaging, and marketing materials, eventually becoming the Creative Director of Hiyo when it launched in early June 2021. By October 2021, Hiyo became my full-time job, where I joined George and Evan as the third co-founder of a brand taking the alcohol and wellness industries by storm. I've chosen to embark on this journey with them to not only follow my personal dream and passion of directing the creativity of a brand but also because I firmly believe in their message to make the world a healthier, happier place.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment so far (as a first-time founder and young entrepreneur) is simply getting this brand to market and seeing the product come to life. As someone who was in a completely different industry, on a completely different career path less than a year ago, I feel like my transition into a full-time Creative Director for my own brand in less than six months has been my biggest accomplishment so far. It has been so fulfilling to experience, and my two best friends have a dream, build an idea, and watch it become a real product in the marketplace. As a result, I get to experience so many incredible interactions with happy customers who've finally found something that will benefit their health and life.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things as a business owner, in my opinion, would be learning to trust your gut. When building a business and brand, you're flooded with so many opinions - from friends, advisors, partners, customers, and so on - and it's often hard to weigh all the input against your own. But what I've found as a Creative and co-founder is that listening to my intuition and following my instincts has been what's helped me grow the most. Though it's often easy to doubt yourself when building an entirely new business, truly believing in the idea and relying on myself (and George and Evan) to build it has gotten us where we are today.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do it. Start now. Even if it's an idea on a piece of paper, all businesses have to start somewhere.
- Network, network, network. We would not be where we are today without the help of incredible, insightful advisors, family members, friends, and fellow entrepreneurs who have helped us along the way. Their relationships are invaluable to us, and the more of those you can build within your community and industry will get you far.
- Don't be afraid to fail. Launching a business requires so much planning, organization, and management, and there will likely never be a moment where everything goes right... and THAT'S OKAY. Take a look at what doesn't work out and learn from it. At the moment, it seems like a loss, but a change in perspective can make it something positive.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I am happy and open to all questions, connections, and feedback! Hiyo is so excited to be a part of people's lives, and we can't wait to welcome more members to our fam.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.