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When we stumbled across Eco Vessel on Hubba we knew we discovered a special brand with a big personality. Born at the base of the Rocky Mountains, this brand develops products from safe, sustainable materials and has a huge mission to give back to the planet which tugs on our heartstrings. All of Eco Vessel’s water bottles are crafted from high-quality, non-leaching materials and are designed to be your trusty companion and sustain a hardcore hike or camping adventure.
I had the pleasure of chatting to Jonathan Kosakow, VP of Business Development, about their incredible brand story, how they continue to innovate their product line and how it felt to land a distribution deal with Purity Life, Canada’s largest natural health products supplier.
I asked Purity Life what they look for when choosing new brands to distribute and what in particular stood out about Eco Vessel. Purity said, “We’re always on the lookout for new and innovative brands to bring to our retail partners in the Health Food channel. Eco Vessel immediately stood out because of their high quality products, attention to detail and an in-depth understanding of who their end user is – which just so happens to be the same people our retailers are currently servicing.”
Let’s take a look at what Eco Vessel had to say about their incredible journey this far!
Your bottles are said to be ‘designed in the Rocky Mountains’ – How did Eco Vessel come to be?
Jonathan Kosakow: Around the time of the original BPA scare in 2008, the company’s founder, Jon Fox, started noticing a lot of low-quality steel and aluminum bottle options hitting the markets. He wanted a bottle for himself that he knew would stand up to an average Colorado lifestyle – hiking, biking, and just generally being able to withstand the heat. We all hate that feeling of reaching for a cold drink and then tasting something near-boiling. More importantly, he wanted to make sure he could feel safe about letting his kids use that bottle.
So he went out and created something that fit that criteria. Now, we continue to create products with those requirements in mind, but we try and let our minds explore a bit more to come up with new ideas that further the category as a whole.
Your product line has grown a ton over the past few years. Why did you decide to add baby products and food storage into your product line?
JK: You’re right. We started with one basic insulated bottle – which we’ve named, renamed, and redesigned over time and is now our best-selling “Boulder” bottle. In only five years, we’ve expanded our offering to include more than 15 different product lines. I’d say this comes from a bit of excited unrest: always wanting to create the next best thing. Jon’s kids are a big part of his life, of course, and as parent-consumers he and his wife are aware of the lack of high quality, fun options for kids in this category.
He’s always put an emphasis on making sure that our kids’ products live up to the high standards that parents today have for the products they give their children – or better.
How do you continue to innovate and enhance your products to meet consumer demands? How important is customer education when it comes to product knowledge?
JK: Customer service is a huge focus of our business. We have a great team who makes sure our customers are satisfied with our products – and we are all always gathering feedback as much as we can. Educating our customers on the realities of product safety is core to that. If we’re not using high-quality materials, we may as well not make products at all. From the standpoint of an individual, you don’t want to be drinking chemicals: certain plastics, and even chemical linings in aluminum products, have the potential to leach chemicals into your drink, and therefore into your system.
By using non-leaching materials like stainless steel, glass, and safer types of plastic, you are eliminating or greatly reducing that factor. From an environmental standpoint, we are focusing on reducing waste. By having a bottle that you can use over and over again – and that is recyclable when you decide you can’t use it anymore for one reason or another – our customers are making a major impact.
Tell us about that moment that you were approached by Purity Life for distribution? How did it impact your brand awareness and sales moving forward?
JK: This was definitely an “aha” sort of moment. At the time, we had some customers outside of the US, but only a couple. By working with Purity Life, and thanks to the focus that they’ve put on helping us to grow our business into Canada, we’ve realized the potential that we have not only in North America but all over the world.
Our business has grown tremendously in Canada thanks to Purity Life’s dedicated sales team, and Eco Vessel has also grown tremendously in markets throughout the world. We’re now distributed in Australia, throughout Asia, and moving into Europe and South America as well.
How do you equip your distributors for success?
JK: As a small company, it’s difficult to give a distributor the time and attention they deserve, and that they need to really grow a brand. In an ideal world, we’d spend significant amounts of time learning about cultures, business practices, etc. as we launched in each new territory.
I work closely with all of our partners and stay in near constant communication, but factors as simple as time zones can make it even more difficult to communicate in real-time. Hubba is a great way to make sure that our brand is well represented to even more potential partners in a region that we are not experts on, but that we want to make sure receive the same service as our next door neighbours.
Eco Vessel donates 1% of all sales to Water for People – Why is giving back important and what words of encouragement can you give other brands to follow in your footsteps?
JK: This was something that we focused on from day one. We think it’s important for companies to focus on something other than just their bottom line. It humbles us and also brings our company together as friends when we participate in events that benefit Water For People’s goals. We do give money, but we also make sure that our employees are engaged in the actual efforts of the organization as well.
Jon has even travelled with them to work sites, and met the people who WFP’s efforts have helped. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation is a major issue with far reaching consequences to education and hygiene in places all over the world – and Water For People takes the approach of helping Everyone, from an individual standpoint as well as a more broad, worldwide reach. They are involved in countless projects in areas that need help the most, and, like Eco Vessel, always looking forward to the next big project.
As for words of encouragement for other companies, we would say that involvement in “heart” projects like this not only help with culture and retention but also provide tangible ways that the company and staff can make the world a better place.
Eco Vessel’s commitment to the environment is infectious and we love to see passionate teams building successful products. Thank you Jonathan for taking the time to share Eco Vessel’s story!
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