In the Media

Start-up businesses make an impression at La Grange Farmers Market

The La Grange Farmers Market provides a variety of fresh produce and other products to consumers. But it has a dual identity. It is also a place where local vendors can take a step toward achieving their dreams to expand or build their businesses.

“The farmer’s market is a testing ground for entrepreneurs who have products they want to introduce,” said Nancy Cummings, executive director of the La Grange Business Association which organizes the market.

She said it provides a place where business owners can meet their customers face-to-face in an informal environment.

“They get immediate feedback. That’s a really valuable thing for entrepreneurs to have,” she said.

La Grange resident Dana Dreves, owner of CraftWater, a company that sells premium, naturally flavored water, is a good example of how interacting with customers has benefited her company. She founded her business in October and is working hard to get the product on store shelves.

In her booth, she offers samples of her waters that come in such flavors as cucumber lime, strawberry lemonade and lemon ginger.

Even if she doesn’t make a sale of a bottle of water, Dreves gets input and tips from people who stop by her space.

“I’m getting feedback on the product and ideas on where I should go to put it in other stores,” she said.

A customer suggested she try placing her water at Kramer Foods in Hinsdale. She followed up and the store now sells her water.

“It’s a local vendor and we love local vendors,” said Ron Ludwigson, owner of Kramer Foods. “It’s a good flavored water and something people will like.”

Zorra Penafiel of Westchester sells 30 different scented soaps at her booth. Her business is Island Soapies and she is slated to start selling her soaps in three locations of Pete’s Fresh Market.

She said that opportunity came because the owner of the store stopped by and liked her soaps.

“It’s a beautiful day when the owner (of a store) comes by and says he wants your soaps in his store,” she said.

Nick Kametas, a grocery buyer for Pete’s Fresh Market, confirmed that the store will offer Island Soapies at several locations including in Oakbrook Terrace and Oak Park.

“We have more and more shoppers wanting that type of thing,” he said.

The market, which takes place from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursdays through October, has about 30 vendors and no plans to get bigger. Providing space where entrepreneurs and their customers can interact comfortably is important to the market’s success, Cummings said.

“We want to keep it spacious and give people the opportunity to browse and circulate,” she said.

Stopping at the market recently, Kara Lapso of Brookfield, said she likes being able to try local products.

“I like to eat locally and fresh. It helps me do that,” she said.

She and other shoppers can look forward to seeing some of those local products on store shelves.

amannion@chicagotribue.com

Twitter @triblocalam

Shout Out: Dana Dreves of La Grange, founder sells naturally sweetened, premium water

La Grange resident Dana Dreves started CraftWater, a company that sells premium, naturally flavored water and is sold in such places as the La Grange Farmers Market and the Hillgrove Tap in Western Springs.

Q: When did you start the company

A: October 2016.

Q: Why did you start it?

A: I was tired of all the beverages with sweeteners and sugars and Stevia. I wanted something for my family that was healthy and tasted delicious.

Q: What flavors do you have?

A: Strawberry Lemonade, Lemon Ginger and Cucumber Lime and we’re coming out with Lavender Lemonade.

Q: How did you choose the flavors?

A: We tested 15 different flavors and those rose to the top.

Q: What did you do before starting the company?

A: I was in health care marketing.

Q: What is your goal for the company?

A: Some big corporation is going to acquire it and mass distribute it.

Q: Who do you see buying the water?

A: My target market is moms with kids who want to buy something that tastes great and is healthy.

Q: Is it made locally?

A: It’s bottled in Streamwood and the electrolytes and flavors are sourced locally. A beverage scientist came up with the formula.

Q: What did you learn during the process of creating the water?

A: It helped me learn the value of electrolytes and how great they are for hydration.

Q: How much does a bottle cost?

A: It’s $1.99 online or $24 a case of 12. A bottle sells for about $2.50 in a store.

amannion@chicagotribune.com

Twitter triblocalam

Copyright © 2017, Chicago Tribune
http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/western-springs/lifestyles/ct-dlg-shoutout-dreves-0803-20170725-story.html