LUNCH BREAK WITH MEGAN KLEIN, FOUNDR OF LITTLE SAINTS MOCKTAILS
The Entrepreneur Discusses how Magical Thinking &
Spirituals Beliefs are Good for Business and Life
To go from wine PR to non-alcoholic beverage PR is no easy feat. Having worked with Hamptons staple, Wölffer Estate Vineyard, Brazil's premier winery, Família Geisse, and South African winemaker, trailblazer Ntsiki Biyela, I can assure you that there are no trips to vineyards, no pairing dinners prepared by chefs, and no charismatic winemakers passionately describing tasting notes. Instead, we have the facts that the population drank too much during COVID, the younger generations are less seduced by the romanticism of fine wines and spirits, and that, yes, alcohol and sugar are not very good for you.
I first encountered skepticism around the sector last year while representing Studio Null, a brand of quality wines from Europe crafted by distillation experts to be non-alcoholic. “Why drink pretend wine when you can have real wine,” were the type of questions I was commonly asked. Others felt it could only exist within a wellness frame, such as an option for Sober October and Dry January. Regardless of the reluctance I encountered, Studio Null continued to grow, and the non-alcoholic sector continued to expand.
It is currently predicted that the global non-alcoholic beverages market will grow to more than $1.7 trillion by 2028. To understand the market's appeal, I spoke with entrepreneur Megan Klein, founder of the newly launched Little Saints mocktails. With her background in environmental law, her analytical approach to entrepreneurship, and her authentic attitude to connectivity and happiness, Megan sheds light into a lifestyle heightened not (necessarily) by cocktail hour but by good intentions, plant ingredients, and fun dance music.
What inspired you to launch Little Saints?
Little Saints was born during the pandemic as my antidote to drinking too much alcohol and feeling terrible about it. As a wellness entrepreneur, I’m deeply passionate about eating and drinking intentionally to improve emotional and physical well-being. Having been a modern farmer (rooftop and hydroponic) and later, founder of Field + Farmer brand, I know my way around effective, plant- sourced ingredients: but, I’d never heard of a cocktail alternative that could make me feel good without getting me drunk or high. So, I worked with an all female team including a food scientist and sacred plant medicine shaman to create a sugar-free mocktail that would taste delicious, lift my mood and spark joy.
That’s why I created Little Saints plant magic mocktails, but I came up with the name about a year before that, while on a plant medicine retreat with my shaman friends. They started talking about “little saints”, and I thought that was the cutest name I’d ever heard. When I found out that “little saints” means mushrooms, because they bring joy and connection, I was hooked and knew in that moment that I would create the Little Saints brand to help people find more joy and connection in their own lives.
How does Little Saints differentiate from other available mocktail brands?
We are the first ever mocktail (or canned beverage, really) to combine CBD, terpenes and Reishi mushroom to create an elevated, mood-lifting effect. We are also the first mocktail company to work with a female food scientist and female sacred plant medicine shaman team to formulate our functional plant ingredient blend. And we’re the only mocktail company, that we know of, to recite an intention set by a sacred plant medicine shaman into the ingredients before they get canned into our mocktails.
In addition to the uniqueness of our proprietary, mood-lifting plant ingredient blend, we are also unique in that we are sugar free. One reason that alcohol makes us feel bad is that it contains so much sugar, so it was important to me that Little Saints not contain sugar to eliminate a residual sugar hangover even when alcohol is not involved.
Since launching Little Saints, what valuable knowledge can you share with aspiring entrepreneurs?
The secret to maintaining my sanity as an entrepreneur is my morning practice. No matter how much we have going on (which is a lot - I’m writing this on hour 14 of my workday, with a few hours left to go), I always start my day with my morning practice before looking at my phone and turning on my work brain. Right when I wake up, I whisper positive affirmations to myself, such as “I love and deeply accept myself” or “I am a badass fairy queen”. Then I get out of bed and shake my body like a wild animal for 30 seconds – a practice called neurosculpting that helps me release stuck energy. Then I connect with the natural world by smelling an essential oil - I put a few drops in my palms and take 5 deep breaths into them, asking the plant for guidance and thanking it for its healing powers. Then I meditate for 15ish minutes, which is just a free flow silent practice where I concentrate on my breath, nature sounds around me and recite more mantras. Then I do yoga and back exercises for 15-20 minutes to signal to my body that I prioritize its health over whatever is coming next in my day. The whole process takes 45 minutes to an hour, but it’s worth it – it keeps me sane and thriving no matter what is going on.
How do you handle critics of mocktails and other nonalcoholic beverages?
Well for starters, I am the last person to judge someone or convince them to do something they don’t want to do. If you feel great drinking alcohol and aren’t looking for a non-alcoholic alternative, then keep up what’s working for you. (In fact, that was me until 2021.) There are, however, cultural trends backed by hard data showing that more and more people are questioning how alcohol is making us feel and drinking less overall – for example, 21% of people reported drinking too much during the pandemic (Mass Gen. Hospital, 2021), and Gen Z drinks 50% less than Millenials (Mintel, 2021). Whether you’re happy with your alcohol consumption levels or looking for a better alternative, Little Saints welcomes you - we’re all about spreading joy and promoting emotional wellness in many forms.
Would you say psychedelic culture is currently influencing the food and beverage industry?
Psychedelic culture is shedding light on our communal need for intentionality and emotional wellness. Psychedelic practitioners teach us that the key to using psychedelics safely and effectively is taking them within the optimal “set” and “setting”. “Set” is mindset - it’s setting an intention for any experience rather than just diving into the experience distracted and without purpose. “Setting” is the environment and community that you’re in when you have the psychedelic experience - the more connected you are to your environment and the people around you, the better the experience will be. The concepts of set and setting are making their way into mainstream culture with more people talking about consciousness, mindfulness and spiritual wellness. Unlike ten years ago when they may have existed more in our fringe culture,, many of the top 50 podcasts today have a focus on consciousness and spirituality (e.g., Jay Shetty) or emotional wellness from a functional medicine perspective (e.g., Andrew Huberman).
Given the increased attention on consciousness, it’s no longer enough for food and beverage companies to focus on just the ingredients within their products. And as someone who has cured her depression through extensive work with sacred plant medicine, it was vital for me to make sure that our products are created with intention and the utmost spirituality. For this reason, I sought the advice of my friend and sacred plant medicine shaman, Ashley Green DeLaune, to advise me about the emotional properties of the plants within Little Saints and provide guidance on how they might work together to lift our moods. Going beyond that, Ashley created an intentional message that she sends to each batch of Little Saints from her center in Mexico, and I actually pray that intention directly into the batches of physical ingredients on the manufacturing floor! The intention that we spoke into the June batch of Little Saints read:
Illuminate our hearts, our minds and our bodies with your medicine, connect us with our highest selves and help us live more mindfully, joyfully and kindly, and inspire fun!
Lastly, let's end on an invigorating note, any tips on how to throw a super fun dance party without alcohol?
Where do I begin?? The most important ingredient to a dance party is actually not the music at all – it’s the energy of the people at the dance party. So the first thing I do is set the intention to have a great time and spread joy, and then I invite people who will share in that mission. Once I’ve set the mood, then I choose the music, which needs to be music that everyone can relate to – the more dancy and the less cool, the better. (I like to go heavy on the fun stuff like Snoop, G+R and Lizzo and lay off the music that only one or two of us will recognize.) And then when I start to dance, I move my body in whatever way feels free, and often that doesn’t look so cool! By not taking myself too seriously and having a good time, I encourage other people to do the same. Other ways to encourage a most fun sober dance party include clothing themes (I’ve done cowboy disco, Gothic elegant and 80s, to name a few), a good sound system and OF COURSE, Little Saints plant magic mocktails!
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