With six children between them, sisters Lisa Amundson and Laurie Ambrose know the challenges of making healthy choices for their children. The sisters, who grew up in Woodbury and attended Woodbury High School, have recently launched a business, kidsWATER, to help busy families do just that.
Amundson, a dentist in Cottage Grove, became passionate about healthy drink options for children after seeing the devastating effects sugary drinks can have on children’s oral health. “You see these little kids who have cavities at a young age and you start asking the parents what they are doing. It’s often juice boxes or sports drinks and parents surprisingly don’t understand how much sugar is in a lot of that stuff,” Amundson says. “The problem is that kids sip on it throughout the day, when nobody is usually brushing. Sugar can be in your mouth for about an hour and a half after you drink it. Sports drinks and energy drinks are really high in acid, which with the sugar is a lethal combination. The acid erodes the enamel and the sugar is basically what the mouth bacteria feeds off, which will eat a hole in your tooth.”
Amundson admits however, it was simpler to avoid juice until she tried to find options for her own children. “It’s so much easier to think about not having juice until you send your kids to school. All of a sudden they need something for their lunch, or they can buy something at school,” she says.
Juice, soda and sugary sports drinks are easy. And while disposable water bottles are viable, they can be difficult for children to open on their own, and lack the appeal of a juice box. “And they’re around all the kids who have drink boxes; that’s the norm,” Ambrose says.
Realizing the lack of healthy “on-the-go” drinks to pack for lunches or take to activities, the sisters-turned-inventors created kidsWATER, a great tasting alternative to sugary drinks that is water infused with a blend of natural flavors. It’s vegan; preservative, sweetener and GMO-free; and comes in a disposable drink box with a straw.
The sisters found no one had ever manufactured water in a standard juice box. “The reason juice boxes do so well is that they are so easy and convenient, and kids can do them on their own,” says Ambrose, who holds a degree in chemical engineering and an MBA and, with help, designed the packaging art featuring bright colors and playful images.
The product was launched in January, offering two flavors, Paddle Board Punch and Leaping Lemonade--active names which promote health and wellness. The flavors have also been taste-test approved by the business owners‘ toughest customers, their own children, neighbors and friends.
Currently carried in all 11 Kowalski's stores and in Target stores across the Midwest, kidsWATER is sold in 8-packs for $3.99- $4.99. Cases can be purchased online through their website as well as on Amazon.
"Our goal is promoting a healthy lifestyle and making it easier for parents to make those choices," Ambrose says.