Zak Normandin wants Dirty Lemon to be the go-to functional beverage for millennials.
The cold-pressed raw juice is primarily made with lemon and activated charcoal and is marketed as a daily detox. The Greenpoint-based business only uses Instagram to market its product, connecting with such influencers as Natasha Oakley (1.7 million followers) and Gabrielle Grace Epstein (1.2 million followers) and celebs such as Kate Hudson and Mindy Kaling, and consumers can only order it via text message.
“Originally, natural food products did not have very cool branding,” said Normandin, who also runs the creative agency Redwood. “We’re trying to have more of a modern, approachable marketing spin to ingredients that have been around for a very long time.”
Since launching in August, Dirty Lemon is now sold in 10 countries. It is also expanding its product line, beginning with a skin and hair beverage this month, followed by products geared toward sleep and energy later this year.
amNewYork spoke with Normandin about Dirty Lemon.
How did you end up making Dirty Lemon?
I’ve done one cleanse in my life. I was literally the most miserable person throughout that process. There are things that I love in my life that are not necessarily unhealthy, but they’re the things they tell you to stay away from when you’re doing a cleanse. I did the cleanse and felt terrible — no one really lives like this. Even people on cleanses, everyone was cheating. That was really the whole thesis behind the brand — why not create a product that allows people to live their lives and focus it more around balance rather than this extreme meal plan?
Why is lemon the focus?
Doctors around the world are recommending that you drink lemon juice in the morning or at night. There are so many good qualities to it — it’s alkalizing to your system, it clears your skin. And it’s a very attractive flavor profile. We don’t have any sweeteners in our products, it’s not over-sweetened.
Activated charcoal seems to be everywhere. Why was that ingredient important for you to include?
It’s definitely on-trend for sure. We knew that. Despite the popularity of activated charcoal, as far as accessibility, I think we’re the only ones who are shipping a product like this around the world. That was the full impetus for using activated charcoal as the main ingredient. Other than that, the fact that activated charcoal effectively achieves what people are trying to achieve through a weeklong cleanse. If you’re drinking activated charcoal every day after a meal, it’s absorbing all the toxins and bad things that you don’t want to be in your system — without you having to starve yourself in the process.
What differences might you see as a result of drinking it?
There’s been a lot of feedback from the customers. I think the best that we can offer from a brand standpoint is just that there’s been an overwhelmingly high response of customers that are saying they can’t really point a finger to it, but they generally feel a lot better at the end of drinking a week’s supply. We’re really trying to stay away from making any claims as related to health, but there are a lot of people who are talking about the brand online that do that for us.
The price — $65 for a one-week supply — seems like a lot. What makes it worth it as opposed to just drinking lemon water?
It’s definitely a premium product. I wouldn’t say from a price standpoint it’s for everyone, for sure, but by way of the quality of the ingredients we’re putting in the products, you’re definitely not getting ripped off. We’re really trying to build this as a lifestyle brand. We’re very well aware that the price is on the premium side, but it’s very well in line with what people are spending if you compare it to New York prices for juice.
What is the difference between the new skin and hair line versus the original?
The main active ingredient in the skin and hair product is collagen, which helps keep your skin tight. As you age, your collagen levels naturally deplete from your system. By ingesting collagen, it also encourages the natural production of collagen. We’re using marine collagen. The other ingredients in it are cayenne, an anti-inflammatory [and] we’re using red clover and horsetail. Red clover is another ingredient that improves skin, and horsetail is silica, which is what improves the strength of your hair and nails. Basically all of those together, it’s really like an ingestible beauty product.
Why did you go with fish over meat collagen?
I have no dietary restrictions, I’ll eat steak, vegetables — it doesn’t really matter. But I think, in general, there’s a lot of consumers that are starting to steer clear of meat products. And it’s also more of a sustainable source of meat protein.
How is Instagram a part of your brand?
That’s our only marketing vehicle right now. We work with influencers on Instagram. Basically our entire strategy revolves around creating content. If you look at our feed, it’s beautiful. We have lots and lots of beautiful photos. We’re working with some of the best photographers online right now. We’re at the core of the millennial consumer base that we’re building the brand around.
Do you drink Dirty Lemon every day?
Oh yeah, definitely. I probably have too much of it. As far as the functional benefits, I feel great. It’s refreshing. You just feel generally lighter after drinking it.
How else do you stay healthy?
Biking is my main thing. With three kids and a business, that’s all I have time for. Biking’s such a great, full-body workout. My one stress reliever is just jumping on the bike and going really far. When people talk about that runner’s high, that’s what I get through biking.