Posted: Jan 03, 2019
Jess Cording: What was the inspiration behind DRY?
Sharelle Klaus: While pregnant with my fourth child, I was completely underwhelmed by the non-alcoholic beverage options available. I'm a foodie at my core and was seeking exciting, refreshing flavors and simple ingredients, none of which were featured in sodas at that time. I started experimenting with some of my favorite fresh herbs, fruits, spices, acidity levels and carbonation in my own kitchen with the goal of creating a perfectly balanced soda. I wanted something I could pair with a great meal that wouldn’t leave me feeling left out.
After thousands of taste tests, plus help from some of the Pacific Northwest’s best chefs, I launched DRY Sparkling sodas in 2005. “DRY” is our brand name, but it also means less-sweet and flavor-forward. We aim to elevate the experience a person can have with soda, delivering better-tasting, lower-sugar options in exciting flavors like Lavender, Cucumber and Fuji Apple. In 2018, we launched the first line of USDA Organic sugar-free soda.
Cording: Was an all-female executive team part of the original plan?
Klaus: It actually wasn’t! I’ve learned over the years that there are certain personality traits that help to create a successful team, like the ability to collaborate and be part of a cohesive team, creativity, risk taking, patience and relentlessness and hired based on experience and those traits. We have veterans on our executive team with prior leadership experience at General Mills, Starbucks, Amazon, Pepsi Co. and Red Bull. We have a powerhouse team of women who are incredibly smart and tactical and know what it takes to succeed in an entrepreneurial environment.
Cording: Has building your company taught you anything about how our health and wellness impact our work?
Klaus: When people feel good, they’re able to work harder. A rested, happy person will be more creative, find more innovative solutions and will bring their best self to work. The energy of happy and healthy employees is contagious. I want as much of that spreading through our teams as possible.
Building a company has also taught me a lot about self-care. Ultimately, no one can truly take care of me but me. No one else can exercise for me, eat a healthy meal for me or sleep for me. I have to make time for these things, and encourage my teams to do so as well.
I also believe that in order to be our best at work, we need to take breaks from the daily grind. At DRY Soda Co., we have a generous PTO policy. I definitely use mine, too! Taking small breaks is also encouraged—a quick walk or 10 minutes away from your screen can absolutely increase productivity after you get back to work.
How one entrepreneur turned her frustration with a lack of enjoyable alcohol-free drinks into a successful business.GETTY
Cording: Is there anything you wish you had known about when starting your business?
Klaus: I wish I had known to prioritize my health and wellness. It absolutely impacts your work performance and everyday life. I think it can be easy for us to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget to take care of ourselves, especially if you’re in the grind of starting a new business like I was nearly fifteen years ago. I didn’t take vacations and didn’t sleep enough. I thought about nothing other than DRY Soda Co. and my kids. I was under so much stress. I wish I had known it was okay to take a step back and catch my breath and that it would actually benefit my work if I did so.
Cording: What are your self-care essentials?
Klaus: Sleeping is so important, yet it’s often the first thing to go for business owners and parents. I know now that I have to get my sleep in order to be productive. I also love to travel, which helps expand my view of the world, consumers and even flavors. I also know it’s important to take time for myself. I have a goal to get outside more, so I recently bought an Airstream, which allows me to easily take trips away. I also love eating oysters. They’re great in the northwest and are a little luxury that just makes me feel good.
By Jess Cording
January 3, 2018
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