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Zak Normandin is a problem solver.

Back in 2009, he founded Little Duck Organics because he was having a hard time finding healthy snacks for his kids. After selling off a majority of that company, he set out on a new mission: to create a fast, easy way to deliver beverages that are good for consumers and, at the same time, shake up an industry that has been untouched for almost 100 years. In 2015, Normandin co-founded Dirty Lemon.

“While other brands are exploring the further development of e-commerce, we think c-commerce, which is conversational commerce, is the future,” said Normandin.

From its text-to-order model to its uniquely flavored, health-boosting products, Dirty Lemon is on a mission to do things its own way.

On this week’s episode of The Glossy Beauty Podcast, Glossy beauty editor Priya Rao sits down with Normandin to talk about how the brand launched on Instagram, why the products can only be ordered through text message and what challenges come with making wellness trends into beverages. Below are excerpts from the episode, edited for clarity.

Defining the business
“The only way to buy our products is over text message, so we have a very heavy tech component to our business. I would argue that we’re actually more of a technology company than a beverage company. We’ve established this one-on-one, direct connection with all of our customers, which is something very unique in the beverage industry, where brands are typically constrained by retailers and distributors. We’ve established an operational infrastructure that supports national scale and direct-to-consumer sales, and that allows us to build relationships with customers.”

Launching on Instagram
“We launched the brand on Instagram at a time that was very different than the current Instagram, so it was early 2015 that we started building the Dirty Lemon account. We weren’t even really selling a product in the beginning, but we had friends that had built very large accounts and we learned from them how to growth-hack a community around a specific aesthetic, which ended up being the baseline for what the Dirty Lemon brand created.”

Introducing a retail concept
“Recently, we launched our first retail concept, which is called The Drug Store. The front part of this space is a grab-n-go cooler where you can get a bottle anytime; there’s no one manning the space, so you just grab a bottle and text us and say, ‘Hey, I took a bottle of collagen from the cooler.’ The back of the space is a full cocktail bar experience, so we have bartenders making homemade versions of all the Dirty Lemon beverages, and we’re using that as kind of a lab for new concepts to be created.”

Growing the brand
“We acquired Poncho to strengthen our AI and the natural language processing, which we were already utilizing, but now we’re able to do it with a level of efficiency that we didn’t have before. We’re looking for additional acquisitions, both in technology and in beverages, to really strengthen the core product offering and grow faster. With this venture, I’ve realized that it truly takes an army of people to build a company — really incredible employees, great service providers, vendors that are constantly providing top-level service to the company. Our vision is to continue disrupting the beverage space and challenge the traditional system.”

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