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Water in a can?

Former Durbanite and now Cape Town-based entrepreneur, Michelle Richardson recently launched a new premium water range onto the SA market… and it comes in a can! We caught up with her while she was holidaying in Durban North recently and found out more about her clever ‘solution to pollution’.

Michelle is an ocean warrior and a driven entrepreneur and her newly launched water range, called Calm Natural Water, is a culmination of these passions. On returning to SA from Dubai after nine years, where she ran the Arabian Gulf Rugby Union, Michelle set up a business to import health and vegan products from the UK, which are stocked by Wellness Warehouse and Dischem pharmacies.

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It was a natural progression to plough her passion into a project which had water as its major component. “With so much national and international media attention on ocean pollution – and plastic bottles at the forefront of this disaster – I decided to look at alternatives. Belonging to an ocean and beach-loving family, I knew that if we could contribute in a small way to reduce plastic in our oceans by changing mindsets then we would be one step closer to being part of the ‘solution and not the pollution’ (our Calm Water motto), and so the idea for mineral water in a can was born.”
During the first lockdown Michelle had the time to decide if the concept could be brought to reality.

Michelle believes that packaging is paramount, and so she teamed up with a young graphic designer who believed in her idea. “I’m so fortunate to have worked with Theresa from Bedinkt who has amazing knowledge of product and label design, especially with regard to the beverage market. The idea for the design was to always have a minimalistic look and feel and to keep it clean and crisp so it would ‘scream’ water from just one look.”

The feedback on the final product has been very positive, she says, with most customers commenting on how attractive the packaging is and, of course, that it is not a plastic bottle.

“I aimed to tell my story on the can, highlighting the need to start moving away from plastic and how desperately Mother Nature needs us to do this. One really cool feature on the can is the customised barcode where I incorporated a dolphin and ocean wave to once again highlight my ocean focus. Aluminium is infinitely recyclable. It is also much lighter to transport than glass, which means a smaller carbon footprint. The aluminium can maintains the freshness and coolness of both the still and sparkling versions, as well as being one of the first mineral waters in an aluminium can to hit the SA market.”

The mineral water used in Calm Water is extracted directly from a natural source on a farm in the Cederberg.

The great fresh taste is due to the natural filtration process through the layers of Cape sandstone before eventually reaching the surface.

‘My Cape Town-based canning partner does the canning at source in the Cederberg Mountains – this makes the Calm Water range a truly local product. The 330ml cans are produced, supplied and shelf life tested by Nampak.’

The canning process for still water is quite complicated, and Michelle had to find a canning company with the appropriate technology. This needs to be nitrogen-infused during the filling process to ensure that the can does not buckle – something not required with other canned drinks as almost all are carbonated.

“Nitrogen does not have any taste or smell and therefore does not compromise the great quality and taste of Calm Water.”

Michelle’s clever product has hit the shelves in South Africa and is currently available in Durban at Umhlanga Super Spar, Glenore Spar, Food Lovers Market in The Pearls, Homebru Cafe in Umhlanga, Home Grown Ballito, Health on Broadway in Durban North and Alchemy Restaurant in Ballito.

Michelle Richardson with her son and daughter, Tyler and Jayde

‘I’ve started a marketing campaign to drive awareness to the brand, with one of my initiatives being to participate in a fundraising event for the Shark Spotters in Cape Town. They play an amazing role in keeping our beaches and oceans safe, and we share the same goal with regard to reducing plastic on our beaches and in our oceans. We are also focused on a number of KZN ocean initiatives where we’ve teamed up with North Coast locals such as the Keto Surfer, Solace South Africa, Ocean Republic and Homebru Cafe to drive awareness through our social media giveaway competitions. Let’s all do our part in keeping our oceans and beaches clean. We have one earth, love it!’

Details: Facebook and Instagram: @thecalmwaterco or e-mail [email protected]

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