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Seattle Elderberry Founder Holly Cooper

Seattle Elderberry Story: From Kitchen Recipe to Wellness Success! (Part 1)

Written by: Holly Cooper


Seattle Elderberry has a heartwarming origin story that dates back to the early years of my family's life in Cincinnati, Ohio. The journey began when my firstborn daughter was just over a year old. Like many new parents, I obsessed about everything that went in and on her little body and I delved into the world of holistic wellness for my little one. The turning point came during a playdate where some other parents were talking  about elderberry syrup, a natural supplement hailed by moms for its immune-boosting properties. Skeptical yet intrigued, my background in biology led me to extensive research, revealing the scientifically supported benefits of elderberry.

Keep reading to learn more about how Seattle Elderberry ACTUALLY began (hint, it didn't really start in Seattle!) Discover why I started making elderberry, learn how important community was to the origin of the business, and stay tuned to hear how Seattle Elderberry has grown in the last 6 years in future posts!

founder Holly Cooper of Seattle Elderberry

"I didn't intend to start a global wellness business! I'm just a mom of 3 who cares about her kids' health and what goes into their bodies. but I'm freaking proud of this company and everything it stands for!"

- Holly Cooper, founder of Seattle Elderberry

"Have you Heard about Elderberry Syrup?"

Seattle Elderberry had its roots a few years prior to our family's relocation to Seattle. Back when we resided in Cincinnati, Ohio, my eldest daughter was just over a year old. Much like any new parent, I was meticulous about what went into and onto her tiny body. This commitment extended to making homemade food for baby-led weaning, opting for organic essentials, and using cloth diapers. During a playgroup, fellow moms raved about elderberry syrup, touting it as a daily supplement that bolstered their children's health. Intrigued, especially as my baby encountered more colds during early toddler playdates, I delved into the subject, although my biology background left me somewhat skeptical about so-called "miracle supplements." This skepticism led me to scour the internet for credible studies on elderberry and its purported immune-boosting benefits.

I'll Make Elderberry Myself!

(Surprisingly) convinced by the studies showing elderberry's effectiveness at reducing both the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms, I sought to incorporate elderberry into my family's routine. However, commercial elderberry options fell short of my standards. They were loaded with artificial flavors, colors and strange herbs that weren't safe for kids. Determined to provide a healthier alternative, I embarked on the journey of crafting homemade elderberry syrup. Despite initial mishaps (most were way too sweet or way too spicy!), I persisted, gradually perfecting my very own elderberry syrup recipe.

Early batches of Elderberry Syrup

From Cincinnati to Seattle- The Birth of a Business

In 2015, our family expanded with the arrival of our second daughter. I whipped up my perfected elderberry syrup for a few close friends during our time in Ohio. Fast forward to 2016, a job offer for my husband prompted a family relocation to Seattle, Washington. Eager to explore my new city and engage with the community, I began teaching fitness classes at a local Barre3 studio in Ballard. The supportive community became a catalyst for what would later become Seattle Elderberry.

As fall arrived in Seattle with it's bright leaves and damp streets, I started making batches of elderberry syrup after obtaining my food handlers certification. I introduced my product to two local parenting groups on Facebook, and the response was overwhelming. In August 2016, I officially had a “side hustle” business. Taking orders via Google Form, I offered delivery and soon discovered that making home deliveries was an excellent way to learn the city and connect with customers.

By the end of 2016, I had filled more than 180 orders, offering both honey and maple-sweetened varieties. The demand and positive feedback motivated me to continue, even as I prepared for the birth of my third child in 2017. To accommodate growing interest, I transitioned from home production to operating out of a commercial kitchen.

Navigating Business Growth & Building a Brand

In September 2017, with a newborn in tow, I officially named my venture "Seattle Elderberry" and obtained a business license. The launch of the first website marked a significant milestone, offering customers a convenient platform to order the flagship Organic Elderberry with Honey and Organic Elderberry with Maple varieties. I continued to make these two varieties of elderberry syrup of out of my home kitchen for nearly a year!

In summer of 2018 I knew I needed to “level up” my business. I began collaborating with a local graphic designer, I invested in branding that would set Seattle Elderberry apart. The process was enlightening, culminating in a logo and the creation of our first bottle labels. Around the same time, I found a commercial kitchen in Ballard to handle larger production batches, alleviating the strain of doing it all on my own.

The pivotal years of 2017-2018 laid the foundation for Seattle Elderberry's growth. Licensing, branding, and finding a reliable kitchen partner (we'll dive into this more in the next chapter) were key milestones, all supported by the unwavering encouragement of my family and community. Stay tuned for more insights into the ups and downs of building Seattle Elderberry in the coming weeks. For now, I'm grateful you're here, and I hope you can join us in staying well!

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