Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Locally Made Blume Honey Water Blossoms across Region

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Locally Made Blume Honey Water Blossoms across Region

Article excerpt

Michele Burchfield describes herself as a "horrible water drinker" who used to be able to ride her bike 50 miles without stopping to take a sip. Now she doesn't leave home for a ride without at least four bottles of the drink she created.

And she's not the only one chugging her concoction - Blume Honey Water is available at coffee shops and grocery chains across Pennsylvania, the Washington, D.C., metro area and Colorado.

The Fox Chapel resident first heard about the health properties of honey from a wrestling coach at her son's boarding school, who gave infused water to his athletes to keep them energized while cutting weight.

"Honey and water have been combined since the first Olympiad for hydration and energy," Ms. Burchfield said. "Honey is made of glucose and fructose and other components, giving us this beautiful spikeless energy."

A veteran of the craft beer side of the beverage business, she was eager to turn the idea into a product but envisioned something more sophisticated than an energy drink.

So she called her former classmate at Fox Chapel Area High School, Carla Frank, who now lives in Manhattan. After attending high school and Penn State University together, the two embarked on different paths - over the course of a career in publishing, Ms. Frank has worked for magazines including Cooking Light and Glamour Italy - but they remained friends.

And now, they are business partners. They formed a limited liability company in 2015 - eventually becoming a women-owned company as certified by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council - and began sampling hundreds of varieties of honey, traveling between Pittsburgh and New York for tastings.

By June 2016, they were ready to launch with three flavors: vanilla citrus, wild blueberry and ginger zest.

Blume Honey Water launched in Pittsburgh that month. It hit the D.C. and surrounding metro areas of Maryland and Virginia in November 2016 and arrived in Colorado in February. The company determined its initial markets by cross-referencing the top 10 affluent millennial markets with the top 10 healthy markets.

"Our target consumer is female, between the ages of 18 and 54 with a healthy lifestyle who is fashionable, loves the outdoors [and] concerned about our environment and social issues," Ms. Burchfield said. "But we found we also have a halo of men with the same beliefs that also love the waters."

Honey offers health benefits, according to Ron Fessenden, a Colorado Springs-based doctor who has written four books on the subject. He consulted with Ms. Burchfield and Ms. Frank during the early stages of Blume Honey Water.

Dr. Fessenden said honey is a sugar that can regulate blood sugar. It also stores sugar in the liver rather than allowing it to enter the bloodstream, reducing metabolic stress and lowering risks of diseases from cancers to heart disease. …

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