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Crack. The crisp sound of a soda can opening might not be your typical start to the day, but it could be a healthy addition to your daily routine.
Eve is a functional recovery soda that offers many benefits as a recovery beverage, wellness drink and mood booster. So whether you're recovering from a night out, you need an energy boost midday at the office or perhaps you're looking for a new cocktail mixer that goes above and beyond the rest, Eve aims to check all those boxes.
In fact, Eve is entering one of the biggest markets in the food industry – the functional beverage market. This industry is tremendously fast-growing, with a market valuation of around US$110 million in 2020, according to Allied Market Research. And it's set to almost double by 2030.
TMS sat down with the founder of Eve, Amy Tsien, to chat about breaking stereotypes of the wellness industry, entrepreneurial insights and how she hopes to promote mental health on her business journey.
How did Amy Tsien get into the functional beverage market?
Tsien gained interest in wellness over the years as she became more intentional with the food she was consuming and how it affected her skin, body and mood.
In the same vein, she attributes her increased awareness of health to more free time during the pandemic. In fact, this is one reason why she believes the functional beverage market has boomed.
"I think that it's just a busier lifestyle, but I think this also is slowly changing," says Tsien. "I think people are starting to slow down, even in Hong Kong, to care more about what they are consuming and things like that. Instead of just grab and go, grab and go, which was how it's been for a long time, I would say, in Hong Kong."
With health in mind, Amy has hand-selected a curated concoction of Japanese ingredients for Eve and even traveled to the farms to see them harvested. It all started with a blend of Japanese turmeric with strong anti-inflammatory properties. Then came the electrolytes, which are particularly beneficial for people who exercise. But they are also great for staying hydrated during (or after) a night out. Then, she added vitamins B6 and B12 for their natural mood-boosting properties.
"I thought, if I'm creating a product, I want to make sure people from every single sector can benefit from it," she explains. "So, it's not just for people [who] exercise; it's not just for people who, you know, go out at night and have the nightlife kind of lifestyle; it's not just for people who wanna do nothing but work and just want to relax. I want it to be for everyone."
Eradicating taboos about the wellness industry and mental health
Despite increased awareness, Amy thinks there's still a stigma in society that needs to be broken about the wellness industry. So instead of old mantras that make you yawn in an instant (cue the "go to bed early and drink more water" gems of advice), Amy wants to spruce things up.
"Actually it's one of our brand's main missions to make the whole wellness section, both physical and mental, way funner, more accessible and aspirational to people in every single age, instead of just another boring product," Amy says, of how Eve aims to break the stigma.
To build out that image, Eve collaborated with a handful of bars at the Hong Kong Cocktails Festival in July 2022 to show how the functional beverage also doubles as a healthy mixer. From September to October, Carbon also served up a custom-crafted cocktail with Eve as the mixer.
Aside from the wellness sector, Amy also hopes to further the discourse on mental health issues in Hong Kong. She's not just building a beverage; she's creating a wellness company that cares for your physical and mental well-being.
"It's everywhere, you know, everyone, whatever you do, wherever you're at, whether it is spoken or unspoken, mental wellness is something that everyone encounters and everyone maybe suffers from, and I feel like I really want to raise awareness for this as well," Amy says.
While it's no longer completely swept under the rug, certain mental health issues often remain gravely misunderstood. For example, Amy mentions schizophrenia as one that is often reduced to an inaccurate movie plot.
"I really hope that this can be something that can be talked about more, and people can be more careful when they joke about things or how [they] present things. I think that is something the least I can do, and I hope that our brand can help in one way," Tsien says.
Dealing with skeptics, sexism and personal challenges
It comes as no surprise that Amy faced skeptics and sexism when she started her brand. The usual phrases were thrown out there, like, "Why don't you just focus on your wedding?" And, when the wedding was over, "Why don't you focus on making babies instead of working so hard?"
But these comments didn't faze Amy.
Eve debuted at Amy's wedding to prove that it could be done.
Besides these outside noises, Amy was also hurdling past her own challenges that come with being a bit of an introverted “social butterfly.”
"I actually am quite a shy person," Tsien reveals. "Don't get me wrong; I love meeting new people. I love being at events, which is kind of ironic because I'm scared, but then I want to be there, and I love hearing people's stories and getting to meet people. But it's that first step of speaking to people – sometimes I'm so awkward.
"What if they feel like I'm wasting their time? What if I'm intruding their space and intruding their conversation? You know, I always have all these worries in me, which I had to force myself to overcome because it's what I love."
It's empowering to see from the example Amy sets that you don't have to have a specific personality to succeed in building your own brand. As long as you are guided by passion in what you've created, the self-imposed and external obstacles can be overcome.
"I've learned in life that it doesn't really matter what people say," Tsien says. "Like, if you believe in something, go for it."
Tsien's advice for dreamers and entrepreneurs
From the trials and tribulations that brought Amy to this stage of her brand's development, she shares a few pieces of advice that keep her motivated.
One piece of advice passed to her by a former boss goes along the lines of, "When things are not happening, it's just a matter of time." She takes from this that as long as you keep going, someone will notice one day and see, 'Hey, you're still there.' So, just keep going because the opportunities are always out there.
She's also found it helpful to be intentional with the people you surround yourself with. Particularly when you're feeling discouraged, surround yourself with encouraging and positive people to stay motivated.
As a wellness brand founder, of course, one of her tips is to exercise. With exercise and physical activity, you surpass your physical limits and develop mental fortitude. She's found running and boxing to be great outlets.
"You get tired and you get past that, and you realize that you can do more," Tsien says.
What’s next for Amy Tsien and Eve?
In the future, Tsien and Eve plan to partner with mental health organizations. With these collabs, guests can enjoy a tasty recovery drink while learning more about the partnering organization and how they can help.
"It makes me really happy because I feel like I'm actually doing something for someone else … I never want to create a brand just for myself … I want it to mean something more than that – starting small from helping one person getting better. Then to all the other things."