Redefining Cocktail Mixers
Having made the move to the northwest from Austin, TX, Molly Rogers, founder of Lola’s Fruit Shrubs,, says the one thing she missed was a “good tart lime margarita.” Inspired by her great grandmother Lola’s shrub method for preserving peaches—a cocktail mixer made from vinegarized fruit juice—Rogers started making lime shrubs to compliment her search for a good margarita.
“It was so compelling I starting making shrub out of everything and taking it to parties as a mixer,” said Rogers “Ultimately, I generated so much business from friends, family and partygoers that I decided to make this a full time pursuit.”
One of the biggest challenges for Lola’s Fruit Shrubs has been going through the FDA approval process for the shrubs, which are federally regulated as a juice product. Both a long and expensive process, Rogers was stuck in a hold where she couldn’t sell the product in stores to continue to grow the business and off-set the financial strain of getting FDA approval. However, the convenience of selling at the Eugene Saturday Market every weekend, and idea suggested by Roger’s Oregon Department of Agriculture Representative Jeff Green, has allowed Rogers to expand her current market base as well as provide opportunities for creating new flavors with her customers.
“Eugene’s Saturday Market allowed me to connect to customers in a really unique way,” said Rogers “I could test new flavors, sugar content, sweetener alternatives (like agave or dates), carbonation, you name it. Doing this makes my customers a part of my business, a part of my story, and I cherish that.”
Keeping it Local
Lola’s Fruit Shrubs is entirely sourced by local farmers who provide the fruits, berries and herbs needed to make the shrubs. In addition to tapping into local resources, Lola’s also operates on an almost entirely zero waste business model. By making fruit leathers with spent fruit and composting what cannot be used, as well as recycling or reusing packaging for the fruits, Lola’s does a great job of reducing their waste.
“This came about because I had a hard time just wasting all the spent fruit,” said Rogers. “So I started dehydrating it, and it’s fantastic. Vanilla pear fruit leather!? Yes! Doing this reduces my ingredient waste to next to nothing. Since I buy fruit locally I reuse most cartons/boxes. The only landfill waste in my entire business operation are the food handling gloves I use for certain processes like bottling. It feels good to know my business is profitable and sustainable.”
As one of the newest participants in the RAIN Eugene Accelerator Program, Rogers says she is most looking forward to connecting with and building a resource network, recruiting co-founders for Lola’s and creating a plan for achieving concrete goals.
“At the end of the program, I see myself in at least one local grocery store in addition to the holiday market,” said Rogers. “In one year, I want to see significant growth and regional distribution.”
To try one of Lola’s Fruit Shrub mixers, look for their booth at the Eugene Saturday Market or visit their website for more contact information.