Jitterbug Sodas and Twist Elixers has (sadly) closed.
Rowena Hopkins is a passionate Mompreneur with really great taste – She is the co-owner of Jitterbug Sodas and Twist Elixirs (@JitterbugSodas), an artisan soda and cocktail elixir company in Halifax. Launched just over a year ago, the company has had a remarkable first year with ever-expanding soda flavours, a new line of local cocktail elixirs, and most recently a locally made tonic water!
Jitterbug skips the chemicals commonly found in soda and crafts their products out of real fruits, herbs and spices. A quick look at the menu is all you need to know that you’re in for a taste experience – Rhubarb Thai Basil, Apple Juniper, Blackcurrant Ginger, Strawberry Cream and Key Lime and Lemon Zest are just some of the flavours.
Jitterbug’s story is inspirational for anyone who has ever thought about starting a business but backed away because of the perceived risk. Artisan sodas are a growing market in North America, but no one had yet tried it out in Nova Scotia. She saw a hole in the existing market, bought supplies, tested flavours and had her first product on shelves within three weeks.
As the former executive director of the Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia Co-operative Hopkins was no stranger to the benefits of a product designed to be produced in smaller batches and sold through a farmers’ market. She believes that this format allows more people to try out a business idea and also allows vendors to receive on the spot product feedback. Since launching, she has tirelessly sought input and is always making changes or dreaming up new products. She polls her facebook fans, offers samples every week, asks for on-the-spot comments, and even held a ‘Sodapalooza’ back in August, a taste testing where participants decided which flavours to keep and which to boot out. The result has been a constantly evolving product perfectly tailored to her customers.
Jitterbug uses local produce as much as possible, supplementing with organic and fair trade produce. In addition to co-owning a thriving business, Rowena is the proud mom to a baby girl. She doesn’t separate work life and home life. New flavours are sometimes dreamed up while out and about with her daughter, then tested during nap time. She includes her family, often walking to the restaurants that carry her products to drop off shipments with baby in tow.
For a small business owner and mother Rowena is bursting with energy. You can feel her enthusiasm for small business, quality products, and local foods behind every word. And despite a packed schedule she still finds time to assist others – This past Sunday, she spent time instructing a group on worm composting at the Seaport Market.
Her newest product, a locally made tonic water, comes out this week. I got to taste test it last week and have been craving another bottle ever since. Unlike regular tonics, Rowena uses natural ingredients of lemon, lime and orange peel plus cinchona bark for the bitterness. The result is a product almost identical to a tonic but with hints of real orange, and a soft golden glow.
Gin and tonic is my drink of choice in the summer (other than white NS wines, of course), so I am beyond excited for her newest creation.
Jitterbug Sodas are sold every weekend at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market. You can also purchase select flavors of her sodas at The Wooden Monkey and Sweet Hereafter. You can try out her cocktail elixirs at Jane’s Next Door, or pick up a bottle of your own at the Farmers’ Market.
From the beginning, Rowena has been committed to growing at a sustainable pace and staying true to her ethics. Jitterbug seeks out restaurants and retailers with a similar local ethos. So, while you won’t find her products at a McDonalds any time soon, she is interested in hearing from local restaurants who share her passion for local, sustainable products.