These days, there’s a lot of hype around bottled water. Many Americans have stopped drinking water from the tap because they think it’s less clean and less safe than water from a bottle. But bottled water often leads to great environmental concerns—it takes large amounts of oil to produce the plastic bottles; transporting product releases harmful greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, and a great majority of the used bottles end up in trash, not recycling.

Waiakea Hawaiian Volcanic Water, a new ultra-premium bottled water brand, is hoping to address some of these concerns. They work to produce bottled water with as little impact as possible and pledge to use their profits to provide access to clean water to developing countries worldwide. For every liter of Waiakea water purchased, the company donates 650 liters to people in Malawi and Zimbabwe. IVY Member & Founder Ryan Emmons sat down with IVY Magazine to talk about what it means to be an entrepreneur of a new premium bottled water brand, while promoting better water sustainability around the globe.

IVY: What is your most audacious life goal?

Carbon Neutrality requirements for foods and beverages, clean water access for all, a 100% renewable future, and a sustainable water infrastructure in California.

IVY: What was the impetus for Waiakea Hawaiian Volcanic Water, and how can IVY members help support you? What makes you different than any other brand? 

Waiakea’s mission is to provide naturally healthy, delicious, Hawaiian volcanic water with as little impact as possible, while contributing to and promoting clean water access to people throughout the world. We founded Waiakea in order to create a resonating premium lifestyle brand that can inspire and create meaningful, positive change in a variety of ways.

Ivy members can support us by following us and checking out our content on our social platforms @waiakea. If you like our stuff, please share! You can also request Waiakea at any retailer, restaurant, or gym. This really does help!

Waiakea is the first Hawaiian volcanic water and the first triple bottom line premium water of its kind, adapting an unparalleled platform of healthy, sustainable, and ethical/charitable attributes and initiatives. Naturally Alkaline, 4x the electrolytes as SmartWater, the first to be certified Carbon Neutral, and for every liter you buy we donate 650 liters of clean water to those in need in Malawi and Zimbabwe.

IVY: What is the biggest challenge you’ve had with the business, and how did you overcome it? 

One of the biggest challenges we’ve had with the business has been a lack of resources. We are arguably the most lean premium bottled water in the history of the industry, known as one of the most capital-intensive industries with significant capital expenditures in marketing and manufacturing, out of necessity. When it’s your own money and the money of your team and family you are forced to find alternative solutions to standard problems because every cent counts. These things add up. From innovative financing and state incentives for employment, to the use of pre-owned, but high quality, warrantied equipment, as well as other methods, we were able to minimize capital requirements by about 1/10th of the industry average. In turn, my team is extremely small and the efficiency we have been able to display by prioritizing certain marketing activities, accounts and regional penetration has helped us also maximize our output.

IVY: Many people say that water will be one of the biggest global issues in the 21st century. What are your thoughts? If you were advising the UN, what policy recommendations would you make?

I think anyone would agree, and it already is the biggest global issue of the 21st century. It is also multidimensional. We have to not only worry about clean water access and the issues therein, but also water scarcity and infrastructure. Decreasing availability of glacial water due to climate change, combined with growing populations and rapid urbanization with raised consumption patterns, and a myriad of other problems, put us in a very scary position.

If you look at the way we consume water: 10% is for domestic use, 70% for food production, and 20% for industrial purposes, we need to aggressively invest in sustainable water management and infrastructure. So much is wasted, and with little to no repercussions. This is mainly on the corporate level and for food production, but also happens at home. I also believe we also need to start a dialogue, particularly in urban centers, in separating supplies for drinking water and other purposes.

IVY: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Best advice I’ve ever received is to embrace the two P’s. In this case, Patience and Positivity. Patience is something largely frowned upon in the fast-paced world of startups. Things need to get done, and they need to get done yesterday!! However, patience, especially in management, allows for mutual respect, long-term strategic planning, and better decision making overall. Positivity, on the other hand, is a necessity for startups and businesses, yet often people succumb to negativity when times are rough. Both positivity and negativity are contagious, so we must be mindful. Positivity enables us to avoid distraction by the deep lows and problems we face daily, while instilling confidence in your team that all will be well. It also forces us into yet another P- Perspective.

IVY: What is one thing you believe to be true that few others believe to be true?

I’m going to avoid getting philosophical, but I believe that Waiakea has the ability to create positive industry change in an industry that has refused to evolve. In this day and age, people throughout the world are becoming more socially responsible and taking steps to not only lessen their own environmental impact, but also make a statement for change with those around them. Waiakea was founded for this very reason, This principal is woven into the fabric of our brand, and is one of the main reasons why Waiakea resonates with consumers amidst a landscape of undifferentiated products. Mahalo!

Ryan is an IVY Member (LA). Connect and collaborate with him here!

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