As I sit here at my favourite café in St. Albert, where I call home now with my husband and two little ones, I find it surreal that I am writing a blog for one of my favourite local health food stores, Optimum Health. I first heard about them from a long-time customer back in 2015 in Sherwood Park. I was selling my elderberry syrup, Feel Good Syrup, at a holiday market. I recall that day as I had to rush home for more syrup by 12:30 PM because it had sold out by then! That rush was thanks to a local Sherwood Park Facebook page, who unbeknownst to me, had mentioned my syrup to a group of moms who were, as a result of the post on that page, coming to the market to stock up with Feel Good Syrup with the hopes of keeping their families healthy through the holidays and winter season.
Hi there! I am Catalina, owner and brewer of Feel Good Syrup
Originally from New York, raised in Miami by two loving Colombian parents, which is why it is still at times unbelievable to me that I live in St. Albert. I am so thankful to live in Canada now! I married a wonderful French Canadian back in 2007 and we now have two beautiful children. My background is actually in fashion. I worked with numerous successful designers through the years in NY. It is during that time that I learned from these intrepid entrepreneurs what it actually took to build a business from scratch. How a concept or better yet a vision, could become a reality. In my latter NY years, I began to work more closely with customers via blogs. During which time I learned about the power of this medium and absolutely loved the direct communication with customers. I was able to build relationships, albeit virtual ones with many of them (I am still friends with some of them through FB and IG from those days back in 2007!).
Fast forward to about 2012
I was a first-time mom and loved being able to raise our son at home but also longed for the social interaction I always had through work. I wasn’t sure what my line of work would be in the future here in Canada. I came upon the subject of elderberries through reading and was intrigued. I of course wanted a natural way to keep our little family healthy. Because I was at home with our son, I enjoyed the time to make our own kale chips, almond milk and such so why not elderberry syrup? I was not too keen on what I had found on the shelf either as a small bottle could cost a family upwards to $35.00 which for some wouldn’t be affordable. Though I was able to enjoy shopping for quality food and supplements I was always aware and bothered that this had become almost a luxury niche.
I wanted my elderberry syrup to only have real ingredients yet be kid friendly (great taste)
I was blessed to have someone give me the name of a local raw honey farmer. Through trial and error I worked on a recipe and once I was happy with it I began to brew. I shared it with friends and my little family. Began to promote it locally through social media and through word of mouth, the demand began to grow. The following year I went from selling it in mason jars to my current bottle. I decided on a family sized bottle and kept it affordable for most anybody. During this time my customers would come to my door by appointment to pick up their syrup. Many were single parents or on one income and they shared their appreciation with me in that the syrup was keeping their family healthy so sick days weren’t being used as often and because it was affordable, they could set that money aside. This became a big part of my mission; to introduce the benefits of this little super fruit, elderberries, to a whole other audience that wasn’t always in tune with the natural product world as well to those who already shopped amazing stores such as Optimum Health for these products.
Feel Good Syrup was named by my then four year old son (now 7) who would beg me for more syrup. I explained it wasn’t juice, rather a syrup that helped one feel good when we weren’t feeling well. He began to ask for more syrup, more “feel good syrup” mama... After a few days of hearing this over and over I looked at him and said he had just named mama’s syrup, “Feel Good Syrup”.
Who is the little girl on the bottle?
She is my mother in law when she was a child growing up in Montreal. My sister in law sent the picture to my husband who then showed it to me. He suggested it would be a cute image for the bottle. When I saw it I wholeheartedly agreed as she represented what any parent wants; a happy healthy child. She made me think of a kid who loved having her elderberry syrup to feel good.
Moving forward a couple years later I started offering free delivery for a case of 6 and going on clandestine meetings with moms in parking lots in Spruce Grove and surrounding areas (we used to get a good laugh from these meetings). Often times I began to get approached around town and asked “Are you the elderberry syrup lady?” I got such a kick out of it though one time I was out late with some girlfriends dancing (moms night out) and I wasn’t prepared for that question then. When I answered yes to her she looked over at her friends and hollered “It is her!” We all ended up dancing together.
Then in 2016 I introduced it to my first retailer in Sherwood Park
I had built the demand over the years so customers would come into stores asking for Feel Good Syrup. They already knew what they wanted. I never had to “sell” the syrup rather I shared glowing testimonials from new and long-time customers. Always keeping it honest and growing it organically in a grass roots fashion. I had built what I had missed, a thriving business where I could connect with my customers regularly; hearing from them and building those relationships I always have loved.
An unexpected but exciting part of the puzzle is my husband joined me on this venture making it a family business. In the Summer of 2017 he planted our first crop of elderberries at his family farm in Quebec!!! This past Summer he was able to harvest our first small crop! He is working with his family to expand that side of the business. An unbelievable and priceless opportunity!
Demand for Feel Good Syrup has continued to grow through the years and I am now able to share its goodness in different provinces across the country and through over 35 retailers and counting. I am looking to how I can expand into the US soon!
My mission in helping others lead healthy lives by offering a delicious, freshly brewed elderberry syrup made with real ingredients, delivered with honesty and at a price that is affordable to every family is now a reality.
Feel Good Syrup is so versatile
Freshly brewed in small batches with organic elderberries, local raw organic honey and a combination of organic spices. It is thinner in consistency and perfect for splashing in your smoothie, sparkling water, cocktail and so much more. You could find delicious recipes on my website.
There are many studies backing the vast benefits of elderberries. These can easily be found by doing a little research. Also, many of the other key ingredients in Feel Good Syrup have their own amazing properties.
The local support has been absolutely unbelievable and moving. I am thrilled to share the benefits of elderberries with so many. You and your family’s health is important to me and I can’t wait to hear how Feel Good Syrup helps you!
Cheers to good health!