In addition to hearing from her own three kids from time to time, Maura Mottolese, president of Darien-based beverage company The Switch, says she gets e-mails from kids all over the country everyday.
The kids write to The Switch, thanking them for creating a beverage that is healthy and delicious. “To me, that’s so positive,” said Mottolese.
And parents think it’s a win as well, she said, considering that the beverage is sparkling 100 percent juice and don’t contain any preservatives or sugar.
coolmompicks.com, a Web site that reviews products for kids and parents, gave The Switch its stamp of approval this summer, calling it a “truly fabulous soda alternative.”
The Switch was first sold in 2001. Mottolese, a New Canaan resident who had previously spent nearly a decade as a marketing and product development executive for Snapple, relaunched the product three years ago after she was recruited by the creator.
Initially she talked to teens and adults in area towns to figure out why the product hadn't been more successful.
In response to customer feedback that the flavors should be more robust, Mottolese updated the product lineup which now includes Black Cherry, Watermelon Strawberry, Orange Tangerine, Kiwi Berry, Grape, Fruit Punch, Apricot Peach, Very Berry and Lemon Lime.
One 16-year-old boy's positive comment—"it’s all of the stuff I want, and none of the junk I don’t"—morphed into the company's slogan, “100 percent of what you want, 0 percent of what you don’t.”
Mottolese also saw a sales opportunity in schools. "Students needed healthier alternatives to soda and there were not many options,” she said.
The Switch is now sold in about 75 percent of middle schools and high schools in Fairfield County, and more than 4,000 schools nationwide. Since Mottolese has taken charge, overall sales have increased by more than six-fold.
Single servings of Switch are sold locally at the Sugar Bowl and Upper Crust Bagel. Walter Stewart’s Market in New Canaan, and Whole Foods in Westport and Greenwich also sell The Switch in bulk. It will soon be at Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk.
The company has now started to focus on getting onto shelves of key chain stores throughout the east. “It’s key for us to have retail availability,” Mottolese said, so that people have easier access to it.
The beverages are currently available at Amazon.com, Kings, Tops, D’Agostino’s, Wegmen’s and Kroger’s. They're currently sold in 32 states, but Mottolese’s goal is to expand to all 50 states by next year.