Small Biz Spotlight: Immorel Beverages Brings Mushroom Brews to Brooklyn
– VOL. 17
For Charlotte Rogg, 2021 was a year of change. She moved to New York City, joined Venn, and launched a mushroom tea company, Immorel Beverages, with her friend, Hayley Kats.
Charlotte came to New York from Boston with an inherent understanding of the importance of community, a fact she’d come to understand on a deeper level when launching her business. After moving to an apartment in Bushwick serviced by the Venn platform, she quickly started engaging with the community—frequenting the co-working space and attending events. “Hayley has lived in Brooklyn for a few years, but I moved here recently and really wanted to build out my network,” she explains. “It just feels nice to walk down the street and run into someone you know because of a community event.”
Finding inspiration in community and mushrooms
The desire to connect with others and have a positive impact on their community is part of what inspired Charlotte and Hayley to create Immorel Beverages. Like many, they found themselves feeling stuck and uninspired in 2020. “I was starting to get really frustrated that corporate jobs lack a huge amount of creativity and freedom, so while I loved my job, I wanted something that Hayley and I could throw our creative energy into,” Charlotte recalls.
That’s where mushrooms came in. Hayley was working for a mushroom farm in Brooklyn with a background in nutrition and beverage formulation. Charlotte began foraging mushrooms in 2018 and worked in Digital Marketing and Project Management. “We realized that if we combine our love of mushrooms with our love of unique functional drinks, we could launch a line of mushroom-based teas that would bring the benefits of mushrooms to the masses,” Charlotte says.
Charlotte and Hayley, far left top and bottom, sport Immorel Beverage-branded beanines along with some of their Brooklyn-based fans.
They began crafting their sparkling teas around mushrooms that provide a unique functional benefit, working complementary ingredients around them. “We wanted something refreshing but not full of sugar, with some botanical notes,” Hayley explains. “Our teas are very spice-forward instead of juice-forward.”
Launching a business for the first time can be hard, but it’s even more challenging during a pandemic. They had to continuously pivot, navigating shipping delays, rising costs, connecting with the right clientele, and getting their teas in stores—all while working full-time jobs. But their belief in their product, and each other, kept them going.
“[We want to] carve out a new way of presenting wellness drinks that isn’t just fluffy and feminine-oriented and makes a lot of claims that aren’t true,” says Charlotte. “I think we can make a difference in beverages.”
It takes a village to grow a business
Their community agrees. Immorel is now available in numerous cafes, grocers, offices and a gym. They’ve even expanded to farmers markets and festivals. Connecting with the neighborhood played a key role in distributing Immorel Beverages, starting when Charlotte introduced Immorel Beverages at Venn events. “Venn is a great partner for Immorel. We’ve been able to share our drinks with neighbors and small business owners, which has really helped get the word out,” she reflects.
During one small business networking event, Charlotte clicked with the owner of Crossfit Bridge & Tunnel, who then started selling their teas. “We’ve heard that the athletes love Wake the Eff Up, our energy tea that’s naturally powered by cordyceps,” recounts Charlotte. “Weirdly enough, I pick up my CSA veggie share from the crossfit gym, so we’ve formed a little ecosystem of community thanks to Venn.”
Charlotte and Hayley partnered with Venn to host a pop up at General Irving in Bushwick.
Partnering with Venn helped Immorel Beverages get stocked at General Irving, where they recently hosted a pop-up. “I think the area that we live in is very community-oriented. Most people we’ve connected with here have been extremely supportive and want to help us along the way,” says Hayley.
… and a little help from the Venn platform, too.
Going forward, Charlotte and Hayley are focused on furthering connections in the neighborhood, and beyond, to continue to organically grow. “I really like the event sharing feature on the Venn app, because it’s hard to get the word out about cool events on apps like Eventbrite because they’re so oversaturated,” Charlotte explains. “We have a new drink launching in November, and we want to have a party to celebrate [which] we’ll definitely promote on Venn.”
For those wanting to start their own business, Hayley is encouraging: “Just do it! I think a lot of people are scared. We are fortunate that we were able to fund the beginning by ourselves, but I think you just have to put yourself out there. “Dream big but also start small. You have to start somewhere.”
You can find Immorel Beverages on the Venn Marketplace at a neighbor discount. Stay tuned on the Community App and Instagram for upcoming events and a flash sale in the fall.
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