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When it comes to favorite party drinks, the margarita is hard to beat. Whether it`s frozen or on the rocks, salt on the rim or salt-free, the margarita is perfect combination of sweet-and-sour lime flavor that entices the taste buds. While other cocktails ebb and flow in popularity, the margarita has been a mainstay since its creation sometime in the 1940s.
Up until a few years ago, the delights of the margarita were unknown to Christy and Steve Cegelski of Tilton. A trip to Mexico – home of the margarita – changed all that. For the Cegelskis, it was love at first sip, but when the couple tried to replicate the lime-flavored cocktail when they got home, they met with disappointment. “All we could find were mixes loaded with junk: high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar…and the low-calorie options, with artificial sweeteners, just didn’t taste right,” says Christy.
Convinced he could do better on his own, Steve sought out all natural ingredients and started experimenting with different recipes. lt became a quest,” says Christy.
The couple looked into using stevia which comes from the plant stevia rebaudiana, also known as sweetleaf or sugarleaf. Virtually calorie free and sweeter than sugar, a little stevia goes a long way. “Whenever people came over we’d test out our recipes on them,” Christy says with a laugh. When Steve added agave nectar to the recipe. friends raved and urged them to bottle the recipe. “We looked at each other and said, ‘Why not?’”
And so the idea for Drink Skinny was born. ln March 2010 the Cegelskis tiled their LLC paperwork, and at the end of the month, Christy found herself at an entrepreneurial workshop hosted by Gary Hirshberg, chairman, president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm. “lt taught me everything l didn’t know that I didn’t know,” she says. “Coming out of the conference. I knew that l needed to find suppliers for the ingredients, a co-packet for the bottling, suppliers for the bottling…l learned what l needed to make it happen.”
Christy’s newfound marketing know-how helped launch the product well beyond their circle of friends. ln July 2010, Drink Skinny`s original margarita mix debuted in stores. In addition to drink-skinny.com. where they sell their products online. Christy maintains an active Facebook page and tweets and blogs about recipes and new additions to the Drink Skinny product line, which now includes a pineapple mango mix. “People love the fact that we post recipes,” Christy says. “I try to post a recipe every week or so – there are a lot of different drinks you can make with both mixes.”
Drink Skinny has an online customer base that stretches from New England as far north as Canada, as far west as California, and as far south as Texas. “Seventy-five percent of our online customers are in Texas,” Christy says. And the only complaint the Cegelskis have gotten about Drink Skinny is the fact that it`s only available in stores in New Hampshire and Vermont. “Our longterm goal is to see it in stores across the country.”
While living and working with one’s significant other day after day may make even the happiest of couples think twice, the Cegelskis – who met in high school and married right out of college – wouldn’t change a thing. “We get to spend more time together, and we have the freedom to work on our own terms,” Christy says. The couple’s flexible schedule allows them to spend more time with their children, too. “If the kids have something going on at school, we can be there. It may mean that when they go to bed we have to do paperwork, but it’s a trade-off, and we feel grateful we can do it.”
For the Cegelskis, the concept behind Drink Skinny is all about balance. “So many of us are trying to figure out how to live healthier lives without giving up all the of the things we love,” Christy says. “Our goal in starting Drink Skinny wasn’t ‘Let’s create low calorie mix people can drink more.’ It was about giving people a healthier alternative.”
And judging from Drink Skinny’s loyal and steadily growing customer base, a healthier alternative to the popular sugary and artificially flavored drink mixes is exactly what people tell you how they love it, that’s always rewarding.”