With Costco thirsty for her drink, Bellevue CEO sees big things for Sea2O
A Bellevue company that sells organic energy drinks might see its sales grow more than sevenfold through new contracts with international...
Seattle Times business reporters
A Bellevue company that sells organic energy drinks might see its sales grow more than sevenfold through new contracts with international distributors and Costco.
Sea2O, the name of the company and the product, is at about a dozen retailers, including four Seattle-area Whole Foods stores.Costco.com will begin selling the drinks next month, and Sea2O officials hope Costco's stores will take the product, too, after a limited run sold out last year.
The 10.5-ounce cans retail for $2 to $3. Prices for 12- and 24-packs are being worked out.
The company's CEO is Nancy Yi, who sold her New York spa business in 2001 to sell anti-aging and weight-loss supplements.
Yi moved into energy drinks in 2006 after trying to sell Sea2O as a low-calorie energy drink for women. She reformulated it after learning an organic product with a natural sweetener would be more popular.
She estimates 2008 sales could soar to $7 million, from less than $1 million last year.
Yi still co-owns Lotte Beauty Salon in the Washington State Convention & Trade Center and sells supplements through a company called BioSea, but she is focused on the energy-drink business now.
Yi touts the value of seaweed — the "sea" in Sea2O — as a health-savvy ingredient popular in Asia, including her home country of South Korea.
Sea2O is marketed to women, especially mothers looking for a healthful option to caffeine- and sugar-laden energy drinks. Retail sales of energy drinks reached $3.2 billion in 2006, up 519 percent from 2001, according to Mintel, a Chicago market-research firm.
For moms: No caffeine. Certified organic. Fiber, vitamins B6 and C and seaweed extract.
For kids: Energy-drink cachet, a citrus, tropical-punch flavor and agave, a natural sweetener.
"We're not stimulants; we're food," said Executive Vice President Kent Lindor.
Yi's fiance, Michael Sprowles, is in charge of exporting Sea2O and is on a tear.
He met Yi at a trade show in Guangzhou, China, last year and has since signed contracts with distributors in his native Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. A contract in Canada is expected shortly.
Sprowles and two partners formed a company to import Sea2O in Australia and New Zealand, where they're marketing the drink to hospitals and schools.
A much larger market is the U.K., Sprowles said, where Sea2O will be distributed by a British motorcycle-racing team.
Sea2O's marketing and sales team works in Bellevue, but the drinks are canned in North Carolina.
— Melissa AllisonTidbits
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Retail Report appears Fridays. Melissa Allison covers the food and beverage industry. She can be reached at 206-464-3312 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Martinez covers goods, services and online retail. She can be reached at 206-464-2923 or email@example.com
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