Seattle Elderberry Story: Navigating Surges, Pivots and Whole Foods (Part 3)

Written by: Holly Cooper

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Welcome back to the comprehensive chronicles of Seattle Elderberry! If you've missed our riveting Part 1 and Part 2, now's the time to catch up. Our narrative takes a compelling turn in the tumultuous year of 2020 when the global landscape was reshaped by the onset of the pandemic. The demand for immune health solutions soared, catapulting our sales to unprecedented heights. In the face of supply chain hurdles, we confronted challenges head-on, exposing vital areas for improvement within our operations.


founder Holly Cooper of Seattle Elderberry video calls 2021

"2020/2021 were a whirlwind! The year of Zoom. Despite some ups and downs with the business, our family truly enjoyed quality time together. Everything that happened in this timespan really set the stage for BIG changes with the business and for our family"

- Holly Cooper, founder of Seattle Elderberry

THE 2020 SURGE & AMPLE FAMILY TIME

In 2020, as the world grappled with the impact of the coronavirus, Seattle Elderberry witnessed an unparalleled surge in sales. The heightened awareness of immune health led to a wild ride for us. Working with our initial contract manufacturers, we faced several supply chain issues when we ran out of essential materials like glass bottles and elderberries from Poland. This exposed significant issues within our company's supply chain, prompting a reevaluation of our organizational structure. We worked as quickly as we could to remedy the material issues we had all while navigating a safe working environment for the kitchen employees. 


As a family, we spent much of early 2020 outdoors at parks, beaches and more. With every member of our house at home, we had to find creative ways to both entertain and engage the kids while still carving out space for each person. Turns out, all of that together time would benefit us greatly in the coming years!

Using hair dryer to seal shrink bands

BAD DEALS AND WHOLE FOODS

Before the pandemic hit, discussions with a specialized gummy company had sparked my dream of bringing an organic elderberry gummy to market. Unfortunately, a substantial investment resulted in a subpar product that I did not want to sell. I walked away from the gummy deal and lost $10,000 (I shared about that journey in this video recap)!


Unfortunately, walking away from that deal also revealed a few issues with our contract manufacturer which in turn led to a pivotal decision to move all Seattle Elderberry production to a new manufacturer. While this shift presented its challenges, it marked the beginning of a new and improved era for our brand.


A huge HIGHLIGHT of 2020 was earning shelf-placement in all Washington and Oregon Whole Foods Stores! It was truly a highlight of the year!

Early batches of Elderberry Syrup

2021: New Beginnings

Welcoming 2021 with optimism, our children embraced in-person schooling, new friendships blossomed. We made the big move at the end of 2020 to bring all of our shipping-in house, and we expanded our team with the addition of Celia!

We also released Bulk Dried Elderberries, featured in a local spotlight by Whole Foods. Our creative endeavors resulted in delectable recipes like Elderberry Lemonade, Lemonade Popsicles, and a delightful Elderberry Champagne Sparkler. The summer of 2021 was adorned with "Seattle Elderberry Summer" gatherings, forging connections with our wonderful customers.

Using hair dryer to seal shrink bands
women in business Seattle
with several incredible women-owned businesses: Shea of Tree of Life Chiropractic and business coach Kelsey Knutson

NEW KITCHEN & SHIPPING EXPANSION

The growth trajectory necessitated another move in 2021, transitioning production to a third contract kitchen with enhanced capabilities. It was great to be partnered with a kitchen who could consistently make the products we needed, and this 3rd kitchen allowed us to finally move beyond the "out of stock years. We also expanded our shipping operations and started to offer shipping to two other local woman-owned businesses: Jordan Delights and MamaBar


Amidst the business success and pivots of 2021, my husband and I were also wrestling with what was next for our family. The rain, lack of sunshine, strict masking rules and political climate were all feeling a bit oppressive. 

Extensive travel in 2021 became a canvas for envisioning the next chapter for our family. The uncertainties of the year fueled introspection, but at the same time, we had grown closer as a family and knew that we'd be fine no matter what life threw our way.

MamBar Shipping
Cooper Family in Seattle

ENDING WITH GRATITUDE

As we wrap up this two-year span of the Seattle Elderbeerry journey, gratitude fills our hearts. The challenges of 2020 and 2021 have not only showcased our ability to endure but also emphasized the importance of community, integrity, and growth. Join us in the upcoming final installment, where we delve into the MONUMENTAL year of 2022, featuring new business partnerships and our family's relocation from Seattle. The Seattle Elderberry saga continues, and we're excited to share the next chapter with you!

DIY Elderberry Syrup Kit from Seattle Elderberry
Elderberry To-Go Tincture from Seattle Elderberry