When I met Jana at Altitude Design Summit I couldn’t wait to feature her as one of our “Creatives Near You”. Through Little Bird Soda Jana makes homemade, organic fizzy drinks for weddings, events, and soon…they’ll be available in select places across the US!
” I currently live in Rock Springs, Wyoming (we moved from Kalispell, Montana) to get out of debt and live a simpler life. Wyoming has been an incredibly hard adjustment for us, but it has given me the ability to focus all of my time and passion on Little Bird Soda. My husband works insanely hard to pay our bills, keep me inspired and free to do this, and he’s a lot more business-minded than I am. His business savvy side has kept me on course and has allowed me to dream without making too many irreversible mistakes. ”
With flavors like Strawberry Rhubarb, Grapefruit & Honey, Fig & Lime, Jana’s got the perfect summer time refreshment! Get ready for some serious mouth watering folks!
Q1) What was the inspiration behind starting your own soda company?
A1) Tanner and I were in Salt Lake City one weekend at the farmers market, and had just sipped an amazing lavender lemonade from a local cafe. I couldn’t believe how good it was, and I kept thinking that with a little bit of carbonation, it would be an AMAZING soda! I also found out that I was pregnant that weekend, and we kept referring to our precious new babe as ‘the little bird.’ I went home and played around with some fruit I brought back from the market, and came up with my first flavor. Strawberry Rhubarb. When my neighbors asked me for seconds, and then thirds, I thought that it was time to develop the business aspect further. I wanted something creative for the name, and wanted a name that would appeal to the audience I wanted to reach. That’s when I knew for sure that Little Bird Soda Co. was it!!
Q2) Looking back what are some of the factors that played a key roll in the growth and development of what Little Bird Soda is today?
A2) Before I started Little Bird, I ran an antique market in Montana (I still do), and wrote a small blog that had a small but loyal following. I believe that the blogging and antique world had a huge impact on the growth and development of my soda. I started out selling at our antique market and quickly sold out the first time! Then I contacted some very amazing companies who I thought would be really fun to collaborate with and they responded with an excited YES! Those collaborations should be out sometime this year.
Q3) How do you balance a healthy home while running your own soda company?
A3) I’ve perfected my soda making and recipes to the point where one day per month makes the amount and flavors that I need. When I was a blogger, I learned the importance of keeping family involved, and my husband is a very important piece of this whole puzzle. I go to him for advice, ideas, and we keep in communication. Our baby will be born in November, so I’m sure my priorities will change then…so I’ll make sure to keep you posted after the New Year
Q4) What advice do you have for others interested in selling an organic food product?
A4) My advice would be to RESEARCH your product until you think you can’t anymore. SURROUND yourself with people who are supportive and encouraging. Hire a GREAT business lawyer who has had similar clients and is interested in what you do. BE PATIENT because it’s a long and drawn out process. I’m still working to be USDA Organic Certified! I’m sure I’ll be the crazy one in the street doing the happy dance when it’s all finalized haha.
Q5) Define what makes a great soda?
A5) I’d say a great soda is like a great wine. I think you should be able to taste all the flavors! If I can’t taste the lemon AND the fig in a batch, I start over. Flavor is really important to me. Fizz is also important. I strive for the perfect amount of fizz without it burning your nostrils or throat! haha
Q6) What is your process for coming up with Little Bird’s unique soda flavors?
A6) I love to go to farmers markets and just think of things I’ve never tried or never heard of in combination with each other and go from there! Sometimes I get inspiration from a great flavor combination I’ve eaten or seen in a recipe. I love that I can have FULL creativity and originality for this. I also run it by Tanner, who is the king of mixing things and trying new combinations. If he thinks it sounds gross, I know I don’t even need to try.
AND NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF!
Q7) What is the soda flavor you will never make again? Why?
A7) Oh boy. haha. Last winter, I decided I wanted to try and come up with a good ‘winter soda.’ It was a combination of spiced cider, pears, cinnamon sticks, anise stars, and a little bit of lemon. I think this would have been WONDERFUL as a hot drink! Unfortunately, when carbonated, it tasted HORRIBLE! I’m still not sure what the missing or added ingredient was that made it taste so bad, but I know I won’t be trying that one again!!
Q8) Describe your favorite soda making gadget/utensil? Why is this an important part of your process?
A8) Honestly, my favorite utensil is a funnel. I have this weird phobia of being sticky, and when transferring syrups to containers for fresh events, or pouring soda into bottles for carbonation, there’s bound to be sticky counters and fingers and bottles EVERYWHERE! I picked up a funnel after my first batch of soda, and after I didn’t have to clean up strawberry rhubarb syrup off the counter, I was a happy camper!!
Q9) What is your favorite soda of all time (organic or not)?
A9) I think my absolute favorite soda of all time would be a lime soda. Just plain limes, sugar, and carbonated water. It hits the spot like no other, and I plan on coming up with a unique version of a limeade this summer!
Q10) List three ways you keep creativity fresh in your day to day?
A10) Farmers markets, stalking the fruit and vegetable pictures on Pinterest, and cooking magazines.
Q11) What does a typical date night look like for you and your husband?
A11) Since Tanner works in the natural gas field, I don’t see him a lot. He works 12 days on and 3 days off, but sometimes he doesn’t get his 3 days off. When he does, we usually head OUT of town since Rock Springs is like living on Mars. No trees, no water! And they really only have a Walmart. Who likes shopping there? I dread it! Salt Lake is the closest big city, so we usually stay the night and hit one of our favorite restaurants for dinner. Eva. It’s an incredible small plates restaurant with food to die for. If you end up going, PLEASE try their roasted brussels sprouts. You’ll thank me.
Q12) (Complete the following sentence) In 10 years I want to be…?
A12) In 10 years I want to be able to support my family, at least partially, with my soda making. I want to be able to stay home with our kids, for my husband to be able to take a job with more stable (not so many) hours, and to have collaborated with some of my favorite companies!
Jana’s one of those friends I met in a weekend but I wish she lived next door (so we can compare baby bellies of course!)! She’s truly a gem and it’s been so much fun hearing more of her vision and how she balances her day to day life. She may make it look easy but I know she’s slowly building a little empire! Look out folks. You’ll be seeing lots of Little Bird Soda soon!
From the Farm
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