Meet San Diego Entrepreneur and Suntide Mimosas Co-Founder Lyda Hanson
One of our priorities here at ThereSanDiego, as we head into the new year, is to do more work to tell the stories of the innovative people that are making an impact on the things we eat, drink, see, and do here in San Diego.
To kick it off, we were fortunate to get a few minutes with Suntide Mimosas co-founder Lyda Hanson, who is running her very fast-growing new business from Encinitas.
The interview is shared with very little editing to keep the casual, conversational tone that we had.
Meet Suntide Mimosas Co-Founder Lyda Hanson
ThereSanDiego: Hello there, Lyda. How are you?
Lyda: I’m doing good, Mike. How are you doing?
ThereSanDiego: I’m good. Thank you so much. Thank you for joining me here. I appreciate it.
Lyda: Happy to be here.
ThereSanDiego: Very good. Well, we are here to share with our community a little bit about your story about founding Suntide and what that brand and business is all about and just learn a little bit more of your story.
Why don’t we just start with the fact that you co-founded Suntide with your brothers? Maybe just talk a little bit about that and how you guys decided to get this business started.
Lyda: I initially had the idea in my senior year at Berkeley and noticed kind of this gap in the RTD (Ready to Drink) market. I had this idea…then quarantine happened. That’s when I kind of decided to figure out the feasibility of this whole thing. To see if we’d actually bring this to life.
At this point, it was just me kind of doing this and I remember reaching out to all these trade and bulk wine suppliers and all these different vendors and everyone I knew in the beverage industry or who had started a company. I was just like….”Look, here’s my idea. This is what I wanna do,”….”Is this possible? This is a good idea.”
Long story short, came in contact with a guy who had a lot of experience with the beverage industry and he was consulting for these beverage entrepreneurs. He had the luxury of being kind of picky about who he wanted to work with.
I pitched him the idea. He’s, like, “This really, really has some serious potential. The time for this is now. Don’t tell anyone else about this.”
That’s when we decided to take it really more seriously. At that point, my brothers were seniors at Stanford, and they were super excited about the idea as well. So, we all kind of got together and brought this thing to life.
ThereSanDiego: And it sounds like it’s gone well…that’s not always the case when working with family.
Lyda: It’s cool working with them. I’ve always seen them as my brothers and now they’re my coworkers, as well, which is kind of interesting sometimes, of course. Family can be interesting. But I’ve been able to see what they bring to the table professionally and really get a sense of their skill sets. What’s really cool is, like, we’re all very different in what we’re really good at. So it’s been a really good, good thing.
ThereSanDiego: Yeah, that’s cool. And if I recall correctly, you guys are all athletes, right? So some good competitive sibling rivalry, I’m sure.
Lyda: I rode horses competitively. They played water polo. They played water polo for most of their college career and all throughout everything younger than that. So, yeah, they were athletes for a very, very long time.
ThereSanDiego: Some good competitive energy to bring to the business is a good thing! So Suntide is at least the first product that I’m aware of that you have out in the marketplace, right? Ready to drink mimosas in a can. Why mimosas? Is this just like a personal favorite?
Lyda: I’ve always loved mimosas because I feel like they are lighter than a beer. To be honest, I’m not a big beer gal. They taste better than a seltzer and sometimes you just don’t want to be drinking like a tequila cocktail, you know. There are a lot of really great RTD beverages out right now, like canned cocktails. But I just think they’re a very nice, balanced, easy drinking, lowkey kind of drink, which fits my personal lifestyle.
We always kind of joke like we’re kind of building this brand for ourselves and our friends, right? Like what do we like, what would we like to see on the shelves? What brand identity do we identify with? So that’s been a cool process. But, yeah, it is a personal favorite to answer your question.
It’s a funny thing cause we always ask, “Hey, do you like mimosas?” Everyone always says, “Yes.”
ThereSanDiego: I think everybody loves mimosas! I mean, I’m pretty darn surprised that there’s, like, a gap in the market. You found this thing that I, at least, don’t see out there until you guys. And it is a drink that just about everybody loves, right? So, great choice!
Lyda: Yeah, it’s cool because people know what it is. I think I’ve seen a lot of drinks out there that are lesser known, you know? But people know what a mimosa is most of the time. So it kind of has this pre-branded identity behind it already, which makes our lives easier. Because people know what to expect; it’s not like you have to educate your consumer so much on what they’re drinking.
ThereSanDiego: Right. It’s a classic.
Lyda: Like the Ranch Waters right now.
ThereSanDiego: I know what Ranch Waters are. I’ve seen them out in cans quite a bit lately and that’s still a drink that if I go to the bar and order a Ranch Water, about half the bartenders will kind of look at me funny and, you know, and ask to clarify what I want. And one bartender will make it quite different from another. So yeah, there is much more education to do on something like that. So you’ve got a head start. Good for you.
Talking about the brand and the lifestyle, Southern California is such a great spot, I think, for your industry. We have so many beverage companies in the industry. I’m sure you’re finding that the community here is probably really tight-knit and supportive is my guess. What makes it such a great place have you found for being in this business and making the products and the brand desirable?
Lyda: I’m from Northern California, born and raised, and lived there most of my life. So my perspective coming here – I’ve been here since February – and I think one thing I’ve found is everyone has something that they’re working on that’s like cool and creative. Like everyone has some cool hobby. So I think there is a community around, like, ‘I support you and your cool hobby and what you’re doing or your business or whatever it is’. People are supportive…that’s what I’m learning.
I remember we had this launch party and we didn’t know that many people here, you know, so it’s not like pull our direct network per se. But we had this huge turnout and it was so cool to see these people just wanting to come in and see what we’re doing and enjoying the product and what we had going despite they weren’t there for us per se. They just wanted to see what was going on. So I think it’s a really creative community and people are interested in just trying new things. I think it’s a great place to be.
ThereSanDiego: It is a great place to be…and you’re in Encinitas in particular, right?
Lyda; Yeah, yeah.
ThereSanDiego: I had my office there for a handful of years and it’s such a creative community and, like you said, it seems like everybody there is working on something. Everybody there has some sort of side project, some sort of business or creative outlet that I think just makes it a unique community.
Obviously, it’s so well known for the Southern California surf culture. But I found that it has this greater culture and energy to it. It’s not just about surf culture, but it’s about Southern California culture, which has so much style and creativity about it. So it seems like the perfect place for you to land.
Lyda: Yep. I came here I remember for my birthday last year and just fell in love with it. I’m, like, this is where we need to be, and here we are.
ThereSanDiego: What’s not to love ? That’s awesome. So, you started this just right as the pandemic is going, and now you guys are out there. You’re out in in stores, out there in retail. I think, not just here in Southern California, but elsewhere as well, right? Tell us about how that’s going.
Lyda: Yeah, we are in, I think, 14 states right now and, wow, it’s going really well. Like, it’s so cool because this has always been my dream to kind of start my own thing. You can ask my friends from high school and before that, I’ve always wanted to start my own thing. I knew I was gonna do that and it’s just been going really well. We’re growing at a really nice pace.
I think one of my favorite parts is being able to do these tastings sometimes and get to actually interact with our consumers and seeing them try live in front of us and engaging their reaction and getting to meet them. People really like the product, which is awesome. We put so much time and energy and love into this thing from day one. It’s so much better when you have a product that you really are proud of. It took us a long time to nail down the taste and get it just right. We did not settle.
ThereSanDiego: Yeah, I can vouch for it. I went up to Idyllwild recently – I love to get up to the mountains to relax – and I took your product with me. It was fantastic. I love it.
So 14 states. We’re only talking about a couple of years here. That’s got to be a pretty wild ride…maybe overwhelming at times. Is there any part of this process where you’ve felt like, you know, you’re going too fast? Like, how do we keep up with this? Or any particular challenges that you ran across in getting this going that have surprised you?
Lyda: Yeah, we’ve been in stores, I think, since January. We haven’t been out for very long. We’re having a lot of success in terms of recruiting distributors, which is great, but I think learning how to scale comfortably is something that we’re all kind of figuring out how to do. Fortunately, we’ve had no major challenges so far, which is really fortunate.
ThereSanDiego: That’s great. That’s pretty rare to hear in a fast-growing startup story.
Lyda: It is, it is. It’s been pretty positive…knock on wood. I’m literally knocking on wood right now cause I don’t want to jinx anything. Of course things come up, but nothing major.
ThereSanDiego: That’s awesome. Well, let’s keep it that way.
Lyda: Working with family can be hard sometimes. We’re learning how to do that. But I think we’re getting everything together. We’re pulling together really well here. We’re happy.
ThereSanDiego: That’s good. Well, what’s next? You’re in 14 states now and you said it’s only been like a year since you’ve been out in distribution. What’s next for you guys?
Lyda: We recently just approved a final flavor that we’ve been working on. We’ve been in under wraps for now. It took a really long time to get it where we want it but finally we have all decided we like this as is. We think it’s great. My two brothers and my mom and I are the ones tasting.
We’re excited about that. What’s so cool is like, we’re so early in the development of this whole thing that we can really do so many things with this.
ThereSanDiego: That’s cool. Well, anything else you’d like to share with our community about the business or what’s going on?
Lyda: Just that we really appreciate people going out and supporting us. I hope they know and feel that. We’re just really appreciative to have the opportunity to be out there, you know, be in front of consumers, and I hope they enjoy the products.
ThereSanDiego: Well, San Diego is fantastic about supporting their local brands and their local entrepreneurs, so I’m sure you’re going to get lots of love and you guys will feel that. Where can people go to find your products? What are the best spots?
Where to find Suntide Mimosas
Lyda: We’re all over San Diego. The best way to figure that out is through our store locator on our website. We actually update it like every week, so it does change too. So if you don’t see it in your local liquor store now, keep an eye out, right? We’re working on it.
ThereSanDiego: Cool. And what’s the URL for your website?
Lyda: It’s www.drinksuntide.com.
ThereSanDiego: Well, thank you so much for joining us again. I appreciate it. Thank you for sharing your story with our community, and continued best of luck. It’s a really, really cool story and we are very happy for your success. We will be drinking Suntide and supporting you!
Lyda: Thank you so much. Good to see you.