The first time I had coconut water was in Sydney in early 2009. I was hungover, tired and confused as to why my friend insisted we go to the Paddington fruit shop to get a “healthy” drink when all I wanted was a blue Powerade and a double dose of Nurofen. Intrigued at the sight of these very hairy brown coconuts, I decided to give one a crack (or at least the very nice man behind the counter did).
Instantly refreshed, I felt like I’d been let into a little secret that only the cool kids knew, and at the time they really were. With my hangover miraculously gone I was back to my sprightly 19-year-old self and ready to take on the world.
And so my love affair began…
Fast forward six years and coconut water is one hot commodity in the health food industry – you know something’s big business when the supermarkets are stocking packaged versions of nature’s goodness (here’s another example – kale). Older and wiser, it’s not so much my hangover cure these days as it is my healthy go-to for a refreshing boost, but you won’t find me drinking any of the tetra pack stuff. Oh no, the only coconut water I’m drinking comes fresh out of a coconut. A cocoloco coconut to be precise. Mark my words: You haven’t tried coconut water until you’ve tried one of these guys.
I discovered cocolcoco at the Grey Lynn Farmers’ Market on a fresh Sunday morning. One sip and I fell in love with coconuts all over again. Nothing tastes like the real thing, except the real thing, and that’s exactly what cocoloco is all about. Like everything good in life, their coconuts come just the way nature intended, and there’s not a packet in sight (just some really cute blue stickers).
Coconut crazy, I chatted to cocoloco co-founder Fran Bowden about how she got started in the business, what makes their brand stand out and what she’s learned along the way. Enjoy!
On your work:
Tell us a little about who you are and what you do…
I am one half of cocoloco, we are the only company bringing in 100% pure coconut water served straight from the nut to New Zealand cafes, bars and eateries.
How did the idea to start cocoloco come about?
We started from a love of nuts! In all seriousness we actually LOVE fresh coconut water, and the stuff in a package just isn’t FRESH coconut water so we decided to do it ourselves.
How does cocoloco stand out from other coconut water companies on the market?
We are proud to say we are the only RAW coconut water company supplying coconut water to cafes /eateries and bars in New Zealand. Unless it has been cold-pressed, packaged coconut water has been put through a heat pasteurization system. This means it has been boiled and stripped of its amazing benefits then put in a bottle to sit on the shelf for months on end. Anything fresh shouldn’t last a year!
Where do you source your coconuts from?
Our coconuts come from beautiful Thailand, in particular the Samutsakorn province.
How did you go about hunting down the perfect coconuts?
After lots (and lots) of taste testing throughout the islands we decided to head to Thailand. It is there where we choose a particular farm to supply our bleach free / spray free coconuts.
Coconuts are obviously a hot commodity in the health food industry right now. Can we expect any other cocoloco products to be coming our way any time soon?
You sure can, we have some exciting new products currently in the pipeline. Some coconut and some not so coconut…
Besides fresh and straight out of the nut, what are some other ways we can enjoy a cocoloco coconut?
Add extra nutrition in your smoothies by replacing your honey/milk with coconut water or blend with fresh pineapple and pop into the freezer for 100% natural summer treats. We even use our fresh coconut water as a toner, or leave in conditioner.
We’re curious. What were you doing before you started cocoloco?
Before I had cocoloco, I was a PR girl. I studied Public Relations and always wanted to own my own PR Company but decided to travel before I did. Once I got a taste for the real world, I left behind all my plans to broaden my horizons. I found myself working on a super yacht in the Mediterranean, which is where I met Pip (Bagley – her business partner).
You’re a small business owner and an entrepreneur. Did you have a business background or was this more of a learn as you go kind of thing?
It has definitely been a learn as you go situation! But something I had always wanted, I think if you want something bad enough you teach yourself along the way. I gave up a 40-hour week to begin an 80-hour week, but wouldn’t change it for the world.
How have you found the process of starting your own company and building it from the ground up?
It has been everything I thought it would be (but maybe a little harder/longer/and more expensive J). It’s amazing to have an idea in your head and being able to make the decisions’ you want to execute it. You’re building your dream instead of someone else’s.
Marketing plays a huge role in the success of a company. What have you learned about launching a product into the market and building a strong brand profile without paying an arm and a leg for advertising?
ln short – Social Media, it really is a powerful tool. Sadly hash tags have a whole new meaning to me.
Any words of wisdom for those of us at home with big ideas to start our own business?
Do it. No matter if you succeed or fail, the wealth of knowledge you will learn on the way will make you rich.
Where are your favourite places to…
Drink? Gypsy Tea Room.
Play? My back yard.
Exercise? With Sean Hughes at NEXT Generation, he kicks serious butt.
Travel to? Mallorca, Spain
If you weren’t building cocoloco what would you be doing?
I’d still be in Spain, in my very own wine bar.
Words to live by?
Trust many, love few and always paddle your own canoe.
And lastly we’d love you to share a cocoloco recipe with us to make at home…
Add cocoloco coconut water to two-part Stolen Rum, add mint, lime, ice and ENJOY.
Thirsty? Yeah, me too. Now go grab one for yourself and you’ll wonder how you ever drank anything else. Happy Monday!