Caplanis Wide

Creating a Health Conscious Wine with Social Sparkling Wine’s Leah Caplanis

Clean, uncompromising alcohol. Leah Caplanis is the Founder and CEO of SOCIAL. At 26, Leah Caplanis was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. After changing her lifestyle and habits through diet and holistic ways, Leah beat cancer after 3 years. Post-cancer, Leah wanted to get back to her once-vibrant social life without compromising her newfound way of life. Using her retail marketing knowledge, Leah created a sparkling wine beverage to satisfy her standards. Learn more about how Leah Caplanis changed the alcohol market without compromising taste or health by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on   Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS. More from UpMyInfluence Don’t forget to check out our other podcast, Authority Confidential, here. UpMyInfluence is an Influence Agency dedicated to turning thoughtful entrepreneurs into media celebrities increasing their authority, influence and revenue. To learn how we can help YOU check out Josh’s free webinar. Connect With Us Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn [toggle title='Read the Transcript' state=‘closed’ icons=‘fontawesome-plus/fontawesome-minus’ margin_top=‘20’ margin_bottom=‘20’] 0:00 Josh Elledge: Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, Founder and CEO of We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show, where I'll reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go. All right with us right now. We've got Leah Caplanis. Leah, you're the Founder and CEO of SOCIAL which is known as the cleanest alcohol available today. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much for having me. So, Leah, you have an amazing story that that really helped you come up with this idea, and we'll talk about your business success and that sort of thing. But I'd really love for you to kind of Share the share the story, the SOCIAL story. 1:04 Yeah, sure thing. So I started social about six years ago when I was living in Chicago and I actually had been going through this healing journey. Because when I was 26, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. And I ended up choosing to heal holistically. So instead of having surgery, I went vegan for several years, and I didn't drink alcohol at all. And two years into that I had learned so much about holistic nutrition and, and even our emotional wellness, in that we need to really connect with with each other as humans, we're social social creatures. And, and I didn't drink it all. And then I realized I really wanted to drink again, but I want something cleaner that I felt good about. And so that's how the idea for social was born. 1:52 Well, okay, so you have this great idea. How do you bring it to reality? Like how do you create a product like that? 1:59 Yeah. So, you know, some people, they they come up with a product and they just they make it and then they figure out who wants it. And sometimes they're right, sometimes they're wrong. What I didn't said was I really focused on who I wanted to serve and whose needs I really wanted to meet. And for me, that was clear that I really wanted to focus on health conscious people, predominantly women. And so I went out and did research on specifically what they're drinking now what they like about it, what don't they like about it? And from that, I got a concept of you know, exactly what you know, they were looking for what was not out there. And then from there, I found people that could help me make it from a food beverage company who helps formulate these things to a Brewmaster and, and I came up with the flavors and what sugars and that kind of thing and for not I had some samples. 2:57 So is it expensive to form simulate something like that. I mean, I wouldn't even know how that would work and how much I'd end up paying, you know, a, you know, I imagine like someone with a white lab coat and you know, and and just, you know, people that are in that world. 3:15 Yeah, so it's about $10,000. Sometimes for that you can get about two, two items done two or three items. But you know, what I actually what I did was I worked with a flavor house flavor company, and I said, you know, if you formulate all of these for me for free, I will buy the flavor from you on going. And so actually, I've had all of my product development work done for free for the past six years. 3:41 Brilliant. All right. So you come up with this great idea. Now before you invest money in the you know, in getting the all of this developed or your effort and that sort of thing, like were you doing market testing, or are you like, are you putting feelers out to try and say, Listen If I go through with this, I need to know that this is going to be a good use of my time and effort and resources. So I mean, what what groundwork? did you do? 4:09 Yeah. So, you know, I did was in marketing and sales and marketing for Nestle for eight years and I got my MBA in marketing and undergrad and marketing. And the first thing that you really ask yourself when deciding, you know, is there a big enough opportunity out there to sustain a business is to figure out the size of the market. And always you can do this in a, you know, in a common sense way, for what what I did was I walked into a liquor store, and I saw that there were just thousands and thousands and thousands of products in a in a store in a liquor store. And I said, Okay, I'm a health conscious woman. What do I want to drink? And I knew that there were all of these, you know, this concept that had been, you know, that that wasn't really available yet. And I had talked to all these women and they said, this is what they want. And I said, Okay, well, if all these other companies can sustain themselves in this huge, you know, $80 billion category or whatever it is, then, you know, there's room for me to get a quarter of a percent. And that's enough. 5:16 So, so now that you've got the product, how do you bring it to market? What was the first way that you introduce like, so you go back to these women who said, Yeah, I tried that. And so you probably show up on their front door with a case and like, Hey, remember when you said you were gonna buy this product? Here I am. Break out your checkbook, please. 5:36 Yeah, that would have been a good idea. You know, so the first the first thing that I did was, I did all my graphic design, to say here is the comp. Here's the packaging. Here's the brand name. Here's the website. These are all things that are sort of like, I guess or two dimensional right there on paper. They're on the website, and they can To show this visual of what you're trying to create, and from that vision that I could show people, I went to retailers and I said, Hey, I'm gonna be launching this thing. Here's the idea. Here's what here's what it looks like. I got some samples. They weren't, they weren't produced yet, but they were, you know, in a plastic, you know, bottle just to show just to have them taste it. Yeah. Okay. You know, it's called like, like a minimum viable product. Right, right. And then from there, you know, they said that they would buy it. And then I was able to get accepted with distributors to also buy it. 6:35 Wow. All right. So who were your first stores that you got into? And then what happened? 6:42 Yeah, so my first stores were Mariano's in Chicago and Whole Foods in Chicago. 6:48 Congratulations. Yeah, you were able to just start with like a regional section of Whole Foods. 6:58 Correct. There's like 11 regions for Whole Foods. And so my gosh, 7:02 yeah, so I dropped off samples at the regional office and you know, the buyer said, Go out, go talk to all the stores and have them sign that they want it. And then I'll set the item up in the system. 7:15 Wow. All right. So now when you've got so you've got a manufacturer that's producing and that's a beverage company. And you've got obviously you've got the retailers, you just need to make sure that they're talking to each other. Like how did how does that work operationally? 7:33 So first, actually, I had the retailer acceptance they said okay, well as soon as you launch this, I'll take it. Yeah. And then I have my distributor because an alcohol you need distributors. They said okay, as soon as you launch this, I'll take it and along the way, you know, parallel path and I was talking with a whole bunch of CO packers and manufacturers to make it for me because the equipment to make a canned beverage, especially canned alcohol, beverage can be You know, millions and millions of dollars. And so I went to some co packers and I said, Hey, you know, this is going to be the volume. I'll do your one. Of course, I said, I thought I would do way more than I did. I always overestimate entrepreneurs tend to do that. And, and I got them to do it. But that that was quite a challenging thing to do is to get a co Packer that could make it and that knew that I would produce enough to make it worth their time. 8:28 And one of your biggest challenges Ben from like, supply and demand and kind of working with supply chains, that sort of thing. 8:36 Yeah, it's, you know, the way that it works well is when you really have strong relationships with retailers. Sales seems to heal so many things. 8:48 There aren't bodies like that, that close like there aren't too many problems in business can be solved with more sales and money. 8:55 Right now, for me, that was Really my strength was was doing sales to retailers. But then we had we did we've had capacity constraints every summer where we couldn't our producer, you know, couldn't produce it fast enough didn't have enough line time available. So it's really important to actually have multiple producers so that if one is really busy, you can go and work with another one. 9:21 Have you ever been in a situation where they're like I know you've had some good media where and you're on CNBC you were on Million Dollar Billion Dollar Buyer. Like when when those events happen? Do you plan in advance with that and work with your retailers and like, hey, just heads up. You know, we might have a little bit of a rush on our on the shelves. 10:12 So as you know, the product is on the shelves. And that's not enough to just put great product on shelves. I mean, obviously, you have your own marketing and your own social and everything else that you need to do, like what have you done specifically, what have you been your biggest things to drive a product awareness? 10:35 You know, because of that situation where we often didn't have enough product because we were, we were selling to retailers so fast. So we kept every year we're adding more and more retailers and so I haven't done a lot of advertising. So up until now, you know, I mainly just I had the website, I have our free social media channels. And then the biggest thing I've done is send out lots of samples to influencers and Sure, yeah, to media, and to, you know, just really build some friendships and partnerships with people that are moving and shaking out there. And we really like to create really authentic partnerships that are long term. And that's been kind of the main way we've done it, and then also the TV show. 11:24 Yeah, you know, and if I think of like, where consumer behavior is today and what truly drives behavior, and you think about the ROI from, you know, great influencer engagement versus glossy, full page ads, it's not even close. Just in terms of bang for the buck, if you have a great program, I would imagine now, Leah that could tell me a little bit about your operation and like, who you've got on the team, you know, who you've hired in and, and what kind of great stuff that that's allowed you to Do as a CEO. 12:02 Yeah, so we have about 12 people right now. And I was fortunate enough to have recruited you know, some some pretty talented people. So we've got a VP of Sales who used to work at Walgreens for 10 years handling their own alcohol nationally. And I have a Director of Sales who has worked for Miller and Bacardi and several brands. And yeah, so we've got you know, we've got quite a quite a big team sort of at this point. And you know, it's it's completely dependent upon upon their devotion and their work ethic and their attitude and you know, it's crucial. 12:41 What communities really love your pride, I would imagine. So like, I'm kind of into the into the keto scene. But, you know, so you would be a great fit because you're 88 calories in one gram of sugar. 12:53 Yes. keto is a really great audience for us and community. Absolutely. We've got several several loyalists that are queued up But you know, really anyone who's focused on health and you know, health and fitness. There's definitely a lot of people that are also just active physically, like in the yoga communities or running communities. We sponsor the Chicago Marathon, it's our third year being the wine of the Chicago Marathon. So doing different runs and races as part of our marketing. 13:21 How do you do influencer marketing? Like how do you identify influencers? And then what's your engagement look like? Like how do you what do you reach out? What do you say? 13:29 Yeah, so we've got about 60 plus affiliates signed up on our affiliate program. And so they basically go to our website WW, social sparkling wine calm, and they go to the affiliate page, and they fill out an application just kind of talks about who they are and their, you know, their presence online. And then we approve it. And they, you know, we send them product, we send them photos and images, and basically they earn 15 to 20% Of all ecommerce sales that go through their platforms. So it goes directly to their, you know, we've transferred over to their bank account. And, you know, we partner on all kinds of different ways, whether it's if they've got a podcast, if they have a blog, if they have events happening, you know, that I can, I can go and, you know, be interviewed on those go to their events, that sort of thing. So 14:24 now, so your flavors for the spice so you've got sparkling wine, and then you've got sparkling water as well. And you've got so do you have four flavors of each? Is that right? 14:36 We've got six flavors of wine and four flavored water. 14:39 Okay, okay, great. Great. So and then of the wine ones, you've got elderflower Apple, strawberry, Rose, hibiscus, cucumber, pink grapefruit, and then there's two other ones that Oh, I'm just looking at the front page right now. So of the six flavors. Uh, gosh, I would think that grape Coconut, a toasted coconut almond. That would be really, really interesting. I would think that I would probably like the grapefruit ginger. I'm not sure what what's your favorite flavor? 15:11 You know, my favorite is elderflower Apple, huh? Look at apple a day. But you know everybody's got their favorites and that you know each one of them has superfoods in it and botanicals. So like the pink grapefruit, Ginger that has organic ginger extract. So it's a little spicy. It's it's real ginger. And the strawberry Rose has organic rose essence. And so they're very, you know, particular and so everyone really has their preferences. 15:40 Brilliant. Brilliant. Well, great. So Leah, you are on the web at you can see all the flavors you can order online. And then of course you can also see the directory of all of the stores that the product is available right now on the shelves. And so I tell you what I'm gonna be heading up to Lucky's which is just a few minutes north of me and and get me a case. 16:08 Well, I greatly appreciate that and I hope you enjoy it. 16:11 Yeah, that sounds great. so fantastic. So Leah Caplanis, I want to thank you so much. You're the Founder and CEO of SOCIAL Sparkling Wine. You're on the web at Thank you so much. 16:26 Thank you, Josh. You guys have a wonderful day. 16:29 Thanks for listening to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur show. 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That's right. seven days a week, you are going to be inspired and motivated to succeed 15 minutes a day. My name is Josh Elledge. Let's connect on the socials. You'll find all the stuff we're doing at Thanks for listening and thank you for being a part of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur movement. [/toggle]

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