We’ve had a nice couple of months at Roots. Right now we’re making more soda which has become a joy. We’re grateful to stockists old and new. We’re now starting to tackle other areas that need our attention. It seems like a good time to talk about what Roots Soda Company is all about.
I like things that have depth, some real thought put in. I like a good album, but I like it even more when the music, sound of the instruments, production, and even the artwork all tie up. I like companies that are thinking about what they do a bit more deeply too.
It’s taken quite awhile to get to the bottom of my feelings and write this blog. I’m a conflicted person with a myriad of competing views. I like to leap into the unknown and give things a go, yet I’m pretty cynical. I’m funny about money. I’d rather do something I care about each day even if that means I struggle to get by, and yet, I’m hankering after a Lotus.
I want to do something I care about. It’s why I packed in a stable job to start Roots Soda Company. I’ve wanted to give Roots a soul, but my inner critic has always prevented me. I’ve even asked others if they could tell me what Roots meant. They’d come back with their take and I’d say no, that’s not it. I’ve been looking for an easy way out, for an alternative narrative where I wouldn’t have to face up to what I’m feeling, but something deep inside won’t let me.
I’ve been sitting still for far too long so as not to rock my boat. All the while people out there are making a positive difference. They’re just rolling up their sleeves and having a go at building better things. Things made with care.
Right now I’m excited for the food and drink industry because it feels so very disruptive. It’s full of folk with great passion and enthusiasm for what they do. They just want to make and sell great products.
It’d be easy for me to hate on the soft drinks industry, although I’d be denying something of myself and my childhood if I did. We make the sodas that we do, because it was so dam good the first time I tried a cola.
At Roots we’ve always done what’s right for us. I’m not angry with the old soda industry, but that doesn’t mean I happy about it either. There are things about it that just feel wrong. Getting on and choosing silence, so as not to offend, doesn’t feel like the right fit for me.
I’ve talked about it so much and yet I’ve always pulled back. At Roots when a call’s hard to make, we settle it by saying “would we be doing what we love?” We love our sodas, but we’re fanatical about our company.
Building Roots Soda Company has always been an amazing dream; a physical building where we make things, employ folks, have our things stocked on shelves, and have company cars and vans out on the road. We want to do all that, we want to love all that, but we only can if our company is about something, stands for something.
We know we’re a business. We’re just fortunate enough to be doing the kind of business we love. It’s quite simple, to keep doing what we love, we need to keep doing business. We’ve got to learn to run it well, but, that doesn’t mean we have to blindly accept the status quo. We have to try and make things a little better.
We have the ‘would we be doing what we love’ rule because we knew how tough this was going to be. We figured if we loved it enough, we might fight that little bit harder to pull through. So far it’s worked, and that’s why we’re pursuing that rule relentlessly.
Just because we’re a company, that doesn’t mean we have to put profits first before our customers wellbeing. It’s why we’re so upset with the soft drinks industry as it is today. It’s not some moral crusade, it’s based simply on how I feel as a customer, which is, it’s one thing to make and sell a product that is bad for you, it’s quite another to pretend that is not the case. It’s wrong to associate yourself with wholesomeness, it’s wrong to say - have no regrets. The evidence is now overwhelming, to deny it is morally bankrupt.
It isn’t about making things to make money, it’s about making money to make things. It isn’t about hate, it’s about moving on and leaving behind those that refuse to change. It’s about making things again here, in the best way possible, accepting the tradeoffs, and letting everyone know what’s good about our soda alongside what’s bad.
Traditionally, new products introduced to the soft drinks market differentiate themselves by their healthier than the alternative. We’re going to reject that. We’re going to talk up what’s good about our soda, alongside what’s bad.
It has made a few folks who only want to help us nervous. We understand, but we want to love our company and what we do, the route to that is honesty. It’s why we’ve talked about our mistakes, even if it makes us look bad.
Soda needs to grow up and come clean. It needs to be clear about what’s inside each bottle. It needs to reclaim its roots as an occasional treat made in the best way possible, free from anything artificial. It needs to fall out from the hands of the few and into the hands of the many. The many who will care for it, and that is why we are here.
It’s going to be hard. It’s going to take a lot of time, and a lot of patience. Yet we’ve been here three years. We came from nothing, we started with nothing, and we’ve taken everything that’s been thrown at us. This is not some pithy made up mission statement crafted in some boardroom, we’ve spent years thinking on it, understanding ourselves, what’s important to us, what we care about, what makes us happy. We want to contribute, we want to be positive, we want to make things better, and that is what this is.
Peace be with you brothers and sisters
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