We had the good fortune of connecting with Sol Broady and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sol, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
One conventional wisdom I find rather antique is the admonishment to “go deep, not wide”.

In beverage, the saying is employed to emphasize loyalty to locality in the early phases — that is, start in your “backyard” and focus on dominating that market. Prove concept in the bodega, and the coffee shop down the block, and the local Whole Foods. Plug in with the neighborhood office caterer, partner with the closest independent distributor, and, only after your product has gone sufficiently “deep” in your town/city and your brand has stolen the hearts of the immediate population, proceed to the next closest market and repeat from the beginning.

This “deep, not wide” strategy certainly has advantages; it protects against overextending your capital by giving you a firsthand look into your market performance and needs and forces you to focus on the consumer and build a direct relationship with them.

Back before the digital revolution, it probably would have made sense to adopt this approach with Leilo. Now however, the increased accessibility of products created by the rise of e-commerce and nationwide fulfillment services, alongside the burgeoning curiosity of consumers and their willingness to share their favorite brands on social media, has allowed for an entirely new opportunity.

Leilo has 600+ retailers, but they’re spread across 30 states. We have but a couple retail partners on the islands and no distributor, but we still sell Leilo in Hawaii. We have one retail partner in PR and it takes 4 weeks for each order to arrive, yet more than 10k cans of Leilo have been purchased by Puerto Ricans in the last couple months.

There are limitations, of course. We can’t take every single deal that comes up, and there are challenges with supporting partners that can be thousands of miles away from each other. Nonetheless, our dedication to providing Leilo to those who are asking for it, even if it takes a bit of extra effort, has made a difference in our bond with consumers. I think there’s an mutual understanding and shared commitment with our partners across the country — we’re going out of our way to support their business however we can, and they’re going out of their way to spread the good word about Leilo. It’s exciting being the first retailer in your state to have Leilo, or to be the first person in your neighborhood who tries kava and feels its benefits. We go deep with these people — our people — and the communities they introduce us to more so than any specific place we selected in a strategy session.

At the end of the day, I think confidence in what you’re building is prerequisite to challenging the “deep, not wide” strategy. We spent a lot of time developing awesome products at Leilo, and we stand by those products emphatically. Our goal has always been to provide clean relaxation to those who need it. So instead of deciding that Montana and Kansas have to wait to relax until we’ve gone “deep enough” in NYC, we do it all. Leilo is sold in grocery stores, but also kava bars, airports, spas, gyms, tattoo parlors, yoga studios, crepe shoppes, and so much more. We’ve gone deep with relaxation, not in any prescribed channel or geographical confine. So far, I think that’s what has made Leilo special.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I grew up in Santa Monica, California with my parents and three younger siblings. From an early age, I’ve found myself in highly competitive environments that can often turn quite stressful. The school I attended through 8th grade, Brentwood, was pretty rigorous and my schedule was always hectic managing schoolwork with the sports I played. I was fortunate enough to have been surrounded by some great role models — my mom and dad, coaches, and teachers — who encouraged me to take on challenges and responsibility without sacrificing wellness or perspective. Nonetheless, I found it tricky to obtain this balance day in and day out.

For high school, I decided to set off on my own path to expand my horizons, leaving LA to attend boarding school at Hotchkiss in Lakeville, CT. Looking back on it, it’s wild to think that I made such a major life decision at the age of 14, but I’m glad I opted to push myself. Hotchkiss was very tough academically and despite the talent of the students there, I witnessed a lot of my peers burning themselves out by the end of it. At the time I played quarterback on the football team and was working to get recruited by colleges — this added another layer of pressure on me that bordered on becoming overwhelming.

By the start of college at Columbia University, it had become clear to me that something needed to be done about the stress culture I’d witnessed across the country. Though Brentwood, Hotchkiss, and Columbia are all very different places, I noticed a consistent thread of students engaging in the “work hard, play hard” mantra and buckling under its weight over the course of time. Don’t get me wrong — I believe it’s very important to stay ambitious and goal-oriented. However, I noticed that oftentimes the release or reward my friends and I viewed as “balancing” out our hard work — partying excessively, drinking alcohol, etc — was only decreasing our productivity and leading to more stress accumulation over time. In order to continue achieving my priorities — pursuing my major in Internal Relations and minor in Ancient History, playing on Columbia’s rugby team, and of course growing Leilo — I realized that my habits had to become more sustainable. That’s why I’m so passionate about our product; I use it every day to soothe my own anxiety and stay grounded, and I’ve seen it make a similarly positive impact in my community. As I enter my senior year of college, it is clear that Leilo has made a major and necessary difference in my life, allowing me to tackle the challenge of each new day with calmness and confidence.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
NYC: Ferry to Brooklyn, eat great pizza, wander around Williamsburg checking out the artisanal shops, stop in Kava Social for a Leilo-based Pina Colada, maybe grab some ice cream for the ferry back to Manhattan

LA: Meet at a court for some pick up basketball, head to Santa Monica beach afterwards to wash off and relax, end the day eating on Ocean Blvd and watching the sunset

More NYC stuff: go to new MET exhibit, picnic lunch in Central Park, fried chicken + waffles in Harlem, pick up rugby game at Riverside, day trip to Westchester for hiking + lunch

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people for whom I’m tremendously grateful. I always try to remind myself of how lucky I am to be able to do the things I’m doing. It’s easier to take risks knowing you have people on a personal, business, and community level who will have your back no matter how it shakes out.

With that being said I want to shout out my kick ass co-workers at Leilo — Brenden, Ethan, Matt, Phillip, Paige, Desiree, Jim, Weston, Katherine, Chintan — as well as the host of advisors and partners who constitute our larger team.

I want to thank my parents for making me into the man I am today and always reminding me that I simultaneously have a long ways to go, yet will always be their little boy. I want to thank my grandparents for the sacrifices they made for us and the values they’ve impressed upon me. In particular, I want to dedicate this feature to my lovely yet fierce grandmommy, Suke Cho. Big bussi, grandmommy. I LOVE YOU!

I’d like to thank my friends at Brentwood, Hotchkiss, and Columbia for believing in me and keeping me grounded. I’d like to thank my siblings — Lucian, Kiki, and Zain — I am so proud of who you are and excited for who you’ll become.

And lastly, I’d like to thank all the people who are rolling their eyes. Doubters are ever a stellar source of motivation, and tend to sweeten every success just a little more. 🙂

Website: www.leilo.com

Instagram: @drinkleilo

Facebook: facebook.com/drinkleilo

Image Credits
Image Credit: Leilo

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