By Rod Kurtz - March 10, 2016
When we heard that a state of emergency had been called in Flint, Michigan, because the city's water supply had off-the-charts lead contamination, we were inspired to be a part of the solution.
We connected with Flint citizens and leaders to understand how we could best contribute. Should we send Soma filters? Install clean water stations in schools? After a lot of research and listening, we realized we wanted to make a long-term sustainable contribution. The local partner that was recommended the most was the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, so we made a commitment to raise money for them over a number of months. But, we wanted to do something beautifully designed and healthy.
Enter Juice Served Here, our favorite Los Angeles-based maker of cold-pressed juices. Our goal was to create a healthy, hydrating product, while also helping the tens of thousands of Flint residents struggling just to get a clean, safe glass of water -- not to mention, dealing with the long-term health challenges they now face. Together we crafted a limited-edition Rose Water, which contains Soma-filtered water, rose essence and aloe. Add the hashtag #HeartsForHydration, and our fundraiser was live.
Juice Served Here co-founder Alex Matthews and Soma’s senior manager of special projects and impact, Dana Trans, recently sat down to share the story behind the new partnership -- and to explain why it’s important for brands to give back.
What is this project all about?
Alex Matthews: We are giving $1 of all sales of our new alkaline Rose Water to relief efforts in Flint, Michigan.
Dana Trans: We also hoped to create awareness around the global clean drinking water issue. With the Flint crisis, it is clear that clean drinking water is no longer just an international crisis, but can pose concern right here on our land.
Where did the idea come from?
AM: Mike and I have been fans of each other’s brands for some time, and we were trying to find an excuse to work together. The issues in Flint seemed to create a platform for us, and that became the obvious reason to do something.
DT: Yes, we've always been fans of each other's brands. It was clear that there was synergy we could work with -- beautiful and healthy hydration bundled with a charitable component. How could we not do it?!
What values do the two brands share?
AM: A focus on quality products, affordable prices, and great, simple design.
DT: Likewise -- quality products, beautiful, simple design, health and wellness.
Tell us about the water itself. What are the health benefits?
AM: Rose Water reduces inflammation and alleviates anxiety. Its also highly hydrating and balances your body’s PH levels.
Where can customers find it?
How will the campaign help the residents of Flint?
DT: Donations will go toward the long-term children’s health initiatives in the Flint area such as:
● Immediate response
● Optimal child health and development
● Early childhood education
● Educational and student-support services
● Continuous access to a pediatric medical home
● Access to infant and child behavioral-health services
● Nutrition education
● Healthy food access
● Safe and healthy home environments
● integrated social services
Lead is particularly dangerous because once it gets into a child's system, it is distributed throughout the body just like helpful minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc. And lead can cause harm wherever it lands in a child's growing body. Children are more prone to this bioaccumulation.
What about the Flint crisis in particular spurred Juice Served Here and Soma to team up?
AM: Flint’s government made two terrible decisions. First, switching the city’s supply from treated Lake Huron water to the corrosive broth in the Flint River. Left untreated, that water unleashed the disaster stored in the city’s lead pipes. We have watched this unfold in the media, and we felt like now was a perfect time to finally collaborate on something truly meaningful.
DT: Flint needs our help. Not just immediate response, but long-term community support. We spoke to numerous local and state policy makers, Flint residents, and NGOs working on the ground floor, before committing to a partner. The Community Foundation of Greater Flint is the most reputable solution to address the adverse health effects that will affect local children now, and into their futures. Many NGOs have been able to receive resources for immediate support, like sending water bottles and filtration systems to schools. However, the Flint crisis will continue to affect children poisoned by lead -- not just now, but all throughout their development. So we thought this would be the perfect way for us to give back.
At Soma, water is at the center of what we do. As our founder and Chief Hydration Officer Mike Del Ponte, often says , "Water is one of the most important elements for life." Our core values also include thoughtful design, sustainability, and perhaps most importantly, giving back.