MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The American Academy of Pediatrics recently recommended children under the age of 1 consume no fruit juice. The organization said fresh fruit is preferable for older children, and that frequent juice drinking causes tooth decay.
Those recommendations inspired two Minnesota sisters to start a new company called kidsWATER.
Like most parents, Dr. Lisa Amundson and Laurie Ambrose were trying to limit sugary beverage intake at home. After all, each has three little ones at home, but they realized between birthday parties and long car rides it’s not so simple.
That’s when motherhood and their careers influenced them to make a change in the juice pack industry.
“Lisa is a person who always has great ideas! So, it wasn’t the first time that she one day was like, ‘I have this great idea,'” Ambrose said.
She wanted an alternative to juice boxes and other sugary beverages.
“Especially nowadays, kids really are used to drinking sugary beverages. It’s almost just part of our lifestyle. It used to be just more of a treat,” Amundson said.
Amundson wasn’t just seeing this problem at home, but also at her practice; she’s a dentist.
“I would have patients come in where I had seen them just a year before and they come in a year later with 30 cavities, and the main difference is that they’ve been drinking a sports drink every day,” Amundson said.
Her sister, Ambrose, has a chemical engineering background and her MBA. They formed the perfect combination to reinvent the juice box industry. Together they started their very own science experiment.
“Truthfully, this started out as us in the kitchen with bottles of water and a science experiment. Kind of making our own things, which was not the best,” Ambrose said with a laugh.
“What’s interesting is things you would think would be good, the flavors we started with were not good as a water,”Amundson said.
Eventually, the very first KidsWATER drink started making its way through the neighborhoods of Woodbury and Chanhassen.
“We went with kid flavors,” Amundson said. “We tested them on our kids as well as kids all over the neighborhood, whoever we could get our hands on. We made a lot of changes as we went through the process.”
The sisters say the flavor is derived from the molecules that make up what you taste in fruit and plants. It’s why the drinks are all natural and don’t contain any sugar or sweeteners, which makes clean up easy.
kidsWATER is carried at Kowalski’s and Target locally.
“We are really living the life of the startup mom,” Ambrose said. “It’s fun to learn the ins and outs.”
As the demand for their product has increased they say they have started to outsource more, but for a while they were making regular trips to St. Cloud to their distribution warehouse.
“We were distribution for a while. We would go to St. Cloud, we would break down a pallet — the two of us — with our kids half the time running around, drive it down here, we would get orders from stores, early in the morning we would load up our cars, take our dolly in with all of our stuff and deliver it. That’s how you have to start,” they said.
It’s all a part of the fun, and these sisters are hoping this water packs a serious punch for families just like them.
“Our overall mission is just to try to help improve the health of kids. That’s where this all started from. We developed this with that in mind,” Amundson said.
“We are two moms who really are looking out for the welfare of our kids, and we think a lot of other parents are looking for the same thing,” Ambrose said. “We really want to keep that mission.”
kidsWater isn’t just at Targets in Minnesota; it’s available, across the Midwest and all the way to Texas and California.
The sisters say Kowalski’s was instrumental and has been really great to work with.
For family who prefer ordering online Coborns Delivers and Amazon are both options. A 32 pack is $23.99. They have three different flavors: Leaping Lemonade, Paddleboard Punch, and Biking Berries.