Bryce & Jill Morrison: Founders Of Mom Water + Dad Water

Bryce Morrison and Jill Morrison, Founders of Mom Water and Dad Water

Our panel recently had the opportunity to speak with Bryce and Jill Morrison, the founders of two fast-growing RTD brands  Mom Water, a fruit infused vodka water with no bubbles, and the more recently launched Dad Water, a non-carbonated Tequila water cocktail.

RTD: Thank you so much for taking our questions today, Bryce and Jill. We love to give our readers a look behind the curtain and really appreciate your time. Please tell our audience a bit more about you and your Mom Water and Dad Water spirits-based hard water RTD brands.

BJM: We stumbled across this concept of fruit infused water and vodka while on vacation in 2018. We both worked in the Healthcare industry at the time and had no prior business or entrepreneurial experience. Mom Water has now grown into a top 15 national brand within it’s first 2-3 years of existence. Personally, we have 3 kids (Trejan 19, Jalen 17, and Makenna 13), 2 cats, and a mini Bernedoodle named Kona. We live in southern Indiana where we were both born and raised.

RTD: Thanks for sharing more about not only your company, but about your family as well. I think it's important to many consumers to know more about the people behind the brand and to have a personal connection with a brand and its products. Keeping along that line, did you have any personal mentors in the industry that you could turn to for guidance as you started out?

BJM: We really have not. The closest thing we have had to a mentor is a very strong and healthy relationship with our friends at The Long Drink company. Their CEO is from the same area that we are from, so we had an instant connection from the start. They have been great to bounce ideas off of, and vice versa, since they tend to do the same with us. We also work with some of our other independent industry friends at Good Boy Vodka and Carbliss. It’s a pretty open and tight knit community in the BevAlc space.

RTD: It's good to hear that you at least knew some folks, but starting out in such a competitive industry without much guidance certainly sounds like it could be stressful. What was it that motivated you to enter the highly competitive ready-to-drink adult beverage business, especially with a product like alcoholic water?

BJM: Honestly, we reluctantly entered this space. We had an organic product idea that we were personally drinking around our pool and thought that people would like. So we took a leap of faith and officially started Mom Water, but we didn’t really think it would be sold much outside our little area of southern Indiana!

Mom Water Fruit Infused Vodka Water

Mom Water Fruit Infused Vodka Water

RTD: Sounds like a leap of faith for sure. But a leap of faith that appears to be working out, so congratulations on that. Being reluctant and starting completely from scratch with no industry expertise must have come with its own unique set of challenges. What are some of the challenges you faced when you first started your original spiked water brand, Mom Water?

BJM: We have had so many challenges that it’s hard to count them all. From trying to find someone to help with the formulations, to securing distribution, to finding a co-packer and manufacturer to actually make the product. There was no blueprint for anything that we have done, and we have done it mostly without any industry experience. Not only that, but our product is a first of it’s kind….which means we have to educate the marketplace on what to expect when trying Mom Water for the first time. The entire marketplace is used to assuming that anything coming out of an alcoholic can is either going to be carbonated, or will be very sugary/sweet. Mom/Dad Water are neither of those.

RTD: Remarkable. We never get tired of hearing stories of small brands overcoming challenges like you and your team have done. In addition to being a non-carbonated alcoholic water and definitely not just another hard seltzer, what else is there that sets your brand and products apart from other products consumers will inevitably see on store shelves?

BJM: Our branding is very unique with our given color scheme and the fact that we have “brands within a brand.” Each one of our flavors is actually a Mom or Dad personality. We wanted our beverages to be more of a celebration of Moms (and Dads) versus just focusing on a particular flavor. We try to think outside the box and innovate where we can. Also, our beverages are completely NON-carbonated. We use still water….ZERO bubbles. We wanted our drinks to be more refreshing and drink like fruit infused water.

RTD: So you've given your brands personalities that pay homage to Moms and Dads and also differentiated your products by using still water for more of a unique drinking experience given the current RTD landscape. Love it! Sounds like you're on to something with your spiked waters, so are you starting to see any trends occurring along those same lines?

BJM: Absolutely. Clean and light tend to be where the buzz is. A lot of folks out there are looking for things that they can session for longer periods of time without getting too drunk, and without getting all the bloat and headaches that sugar and carbonation tend to cause. There seems to be a lot of folks in the industry that are simply tired of carbonated beverages and are looking for an alternatives. We are trying to provide that choice with Mom Water and Dad Water.

Dad Water Fruit Infused Tequila Water

Dad Water Fruit Infused Tequila Water

RTD: Agreed, we see the same thing occurring with shifting consumer preferences in regards to pre-made cocktails. So now that you've carved out a niche for your vodka water and Tequila water brands, if you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself about this line of business?

BJM: Be prepared for failure, but don’t be frightened by it. Our failures over the years are also the same things that have made us so strong. The RTD business is an insanely hard one, and you really have to believe in your products, while at the same time catching a few breaks.

RTD: And if you could do it all over again? Would you do anything differently?

BJM: There really aren’t a lot of things we would change….even with all the headaches. Every time we had something go wrong, we came out stronger and more knowledgeable. If we wouldn’t have had those things happen, we may not have all the information we currently possess, which will really help us in the future as we continue to grow. We know we are just getting to the hard stages of growth in our industry, but things aren’t slowing down at all. Everything happens for a reason, and all of those decisions we made have brought us to this point.

RTD: Sounds like you both really put the "faith" in leap of faith. Such a great story of faith, perseverance, and determination that has led to success. And now that you've been able to successfully overcome so many challenges and on the flipside, what would you consider your and your brand’s greatest triumphs to date?

BJM: Being able to build a team and company and change our employees' lives for the better. We are trying to successfully grow this brand “our” way, which is putting our employees and the Mom Water community first. We want to have FUN at our jobs, as that’s when it tends to show in all of the things our community sees on a daily basis. Seeing the reaction of folks the first time they try Mom Water or Dad Water is priceless and will never get old. Professionally, winning large national chains has been surreal (Wal Mart, Target, Publix, Total Wine & More, Kroger, Meijer, SPECS, etc.).

Hard Water + Spiked Water For Moms & Dads

Dad Water Hard Water & Mom Water Spiked Water

RTD: Very nice. Getting your hard water picked up by those large retailers must have been very exciting. What else excites you about the RTD industry as a whole?

BJM: Just seeing the innovation and continued improvement in the space. RTDs offer traditional beer consumers so many new alternatives. For instance, we have seen a large number of light beer drinkers try and love Dad Water since its soft launch last summer. It offers a light, easy drinking experience akin to beer, but it’s able to offer them something different for a change. Seeing more options and opportunities in the marketplace is a good thing for everyone.

RTD: No doubt. As the saying goes, more is better. So, besides converting more beer drinkers in to spiked water consumers, what else do you feel the future holds for the RTD industry?

BJM: Turmoil. I think the overall outlook on the RTD space is obviously favorable and very positive, but I think the next few years will see a lot of uncertainty, shake up, innovation, competition, etc. It’s the one space where every supplier wants to be, but only a handful will really succeed. It’s a really tough space to break in to, and in the years to come, I anticipate some of the larger companies will try to find those smaller “diamonds in the rough” to acquire and support. And, as you know, I also think it will continue to take share away from the beer industry as drinkers realize the amount of other available options.

RTD: And in addition to the future of the industry, what does the future look like for you and the Mom Water and Dad Water brands?

BJM: We are just getting started. We feel like we have a huge runway. We are the first type of alcoholic water drink of our kind…..and we fit the future trends of light, clean, and refreshing. We have had massive success over the past few years but at the same time have barely grazed the surface of what’s possible. We want Mom Water and Dad Water to become household names all while continuing to push innovation in the industry.

RTD: Bryce and Jill, thank you for a fantastic interview. All of us here are genuinely happy for you, your family, and your entire team. This is what it's all about. RTD Magazine was started with the purpose to serve small and emerging brands, and nothing pleases us more than hearing a success story like yours. Cheers!

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