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No Need To Be Sweet: How Hint Water’s CEO Kara Goldin Breaks The Mold

When it comes to Breaking the Mold in the beverage industry, Kara Goldin, Founder and CEO of Hint Water, knows a thing or two. Defying conventional advice to operate the old way (and getting called “sweetie” in the process), she fills us in on running a business plus a home with four kids.

What was your “aha moment” with Hint? How did you know this was something you should devote yourself to?

Hint Water is all about being delicious without being sweet. Early on, when I was still overcoming some major operational hurdles launching Hint, I was speaking to an executive at a big soda company and he said to me, “sweetie, America likes sweet.” Instantly, all my worries about the challenges ahead seemed to vanish. I realized that he (and other big soda execs) had absolutely no understanding of, or concern for, how much Americans were truly craving a healthy and delicious unsweetened beverage.

“I knew that the landscape was mine for the taking and that if I didn’t step up to the plate, who would?”

What is the hardest part of running a company?

Striking the balance between delegating and remaining involved. In order to scale, it’s absolutely essential for me to be able to let the great people I’ve hired take the lead. However, I believe that staying in the game has really kept my business alive—I want to know how every facet of my business works and never lose touch with that. I too often see CEOs sitting high in their castles and when things go awry, they don’t understand what went wrong. You’ve got to stay connected while still being open to growth.

What’s your method for work-life balance?

My husband Theo is Hint’s COO, and for us, work and life are very fluid. There isn’t really much distinction; I might bring work home but I also bring home to work. Our kids often hang out in the office when school’s over, and there are many weekend days and nights when I’m emailing or speaking with investors or partners. You do the best at everything you’re doing and that includes taking time for yourself and your family when you can.

Besides running your business, what’s another way that you #BreakTheMold and stray away from the conventional?

I’m probably like every mother on the planet in saying this, but my children Break the Mold. They surprise me everyday. All four of them are so unique in their own ways… kind and gentle, entrepreneurial, a little spunky. I try not to be a helicopter parent, and to just trust them and give them autonomy where I can. I like to think that trust has helped them grow in some ways.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?

That I’m not a natural public speaker. I do it all the time now, but speaking in public, even in front of small groups, used to give me major anxiety. A few years ago, I decided I wanted to be good at it, so I threw myself into a few speaking engagements, and with time I became quite comfortable. Now, I speak one or two times a week, and don’t need to over-prepare!

What piece of advice do you have for young women just starting out in their career?

Work hard! There is a lot of focus these days on the particular challenges that women in business face. Is it harder to find investors? Are we overlooked for certain roles? Probably. And I also believe that if you’re smart and driven, you can have anything you work for.

“If you’re smart and driven, you can have anything you work for.”

What inspires you?

My customers! The way that I think about my job is that I work for the consumer, so I’m eager for all feedback, be it praise or criticism. I’m on a mission to make America healthy and happy, so hearing about my customers’ struggles and experiences truly keeps me motivated and excited to get up every day and disrupt and innovate however I can.

What's next for Hint?

We’re super thrilled to have just launched Hint sunscreen spray online a few weeks ago. It’s our foray into the beauty world, and it’s oxybenzone and paraben free. It’s naturally scented with our Hint essences, and it smells AH-MAZING! The early response has been phenomenal. Dermatologists especially are mad for it. I cannot wait to see it on shelves everywhere soon. I’m also excited that we’re opening our second office in San Francisco very soon. We’re growing fast, so we need a little more square footage. It’s a work and retail space in the Marina and will be an amazing place for people to come in and have a little Hint tasting!

Extra Credit

What is the most-used app on your phone – and why?

Waze. I have four kids and I’m always on the go, be it to the airport or prom!

What’s the first thing you do every morning?

Drink a Hint! And then I go for a long hike with my dogs, Sadie and Buster Brown.

What book could you re-read over and over?

Originals by Adam Grant.

What is your go-to bra style?

Something black! It’s my uniform.

Finish the sentence: I #BreakTheMold By _____.

I #BreakTheMold by: giving my kids trust and autonomy.

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