Azalea Magazine Summerville The Lowcountry SC

Modern Living in the Old South

Modern Living in the Old South

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Sweet Lady

Tara Pate, the founder of Daysie Syrups, doesn’t sit around waiting for someone else to make her dreams happen, and that is most clear in her newest business pursuit.

Daysie Syrups was founded by dreams and fueled by coffee, with a founder who had two main goals in mind. One was to create a syrup that had an exceptional range of flavors, organic certification, and sustain- able packaging. The other was to contribute to the support and growth of women-owned businesses by using her brand to showcase their products and help them reach their peak performance. These goals may sound fairly easy to obtain on paper, though that couldn’t be further from the truth. Tara knew it would take a tremendous amount of time and effort to start a business from scratch, and bringing her ideas to fruition proved to be more difficult than she anticipated, but she has never been a quitter. In fact, life threw a few curveballs her way before she had the idea for Daysie, and she wouldn’t be where she is today without them.

For Tara, there was a long period of time in her life where the traditional idea of “home” never really existed. Kevin, her husband, was an officer in the Navy, and the first eight years of their marriage were spent moving from place to place. The couple went to graduate school and then moved to San Francisco to pursue their shared dream of working for start-up companies, but after living there for four years, it still didn’t feel right. Kevin had been stationed in Charleston during his time in the military, and they both had the same destination in mind for their final trek across the market.

“The Charleston area makes us feel settled in our hearts, and we feel really comfortable and at peace,” Tara says, and in January of 2020, the couple moved into their forever home in Summerville.

The Pates were ecstatic to be back in the Low- country. Everything was finally feeling “normal” again. But little did they know the pandemic was looming. Lockdowns began being put in to place, restaurants closed down, and Tara was furloughed from her position as a marketing director for a local restaurant group. Being out of work was a big change for her, as she had been working since she was only twelve years old, but Tara welcomed what she refers to as her “pandemic pause.” Without the pandemic, Kevin and Tara might not have taken the time to build their own at-home coffee bar. She carefully curated its contents to do her best to recreate her favorite drinks, yet never found a simple syrup that she liked. Everything on the market was loaded with too many preservatives and they left a bad taste in her mouth, literally. Tara’s final straw, and what gave her that extra push to begin Daysie, was a visit to Whole Foods Market. She was still attempting to find a coffee syrup when she was told by the kind worker that they didn’t have a single one, and she was directed towards the cocktail mixers.

Tara was fed up with the syrup industry. Using her extensive experience in marketing, she knew she could fill an obvious demand in the market. But first, she needed to talk it over with Kevin. Being unsure of how he would react to the idea of draining their savings accounts for her to chase her dreams, she was nervous about the conversation. Kevin’s response was exactly what she needed to hear. He said, “In life, we will have to make bets with our finances. Stocks, bonds, 410k, homes, etc. My best bet is on you.” With her husband’s support, Tara got to work.

Daysie was entirely self-funded by Pate’s hard work. Nights and weekends were dedicated to contract work, making as much money as she could to build her brand. When she was not working, she began experimenting in her kitchen, using whatever she could think of for her future syrup recipe. At this point, Pate knew she needed help taking the experiments from her kitchen and turning them into a plan for commercial use. She had planned from the beginning to hire women so they could support each other in their work, with her first two team members being a highly-qualified beverage formulator and a lawyer, both of which were fundamental to her success.

The success of Daysie was entirely dependent on taste, which meant countless hours were spent modifying their first few flavors to achieve the best-tasting brand on the market. It took six months to narrow down a handful of flavors that Tara felt confident in before she could move on. The next step was creating a private focus group to see which of their flavors, product labels, and brand names were the most likely to succeed. This may sound easy, but in reality, it was one of the most difficult parts of the process.

They began to search for a co-packer that could make Daysie on a larger scale than Tara was able to produce on her own, and found one that was capable of fulfilling all of the brand’s needs.The co-packer needed to be a certified organic facility, with the ability to do a hot fill and a quick cool to make it as efficient of a process as possible. Not everyone wants to work with a brand as new and as small as hers, but thanks to a podcast that she was listening to, Tara was able to find exactly who she needed.

Once they were able to make a plan for production, Tara had to go through the legal process for making products on a commercial level. It was here that Tara was met with extreme doubt in her abilities to make a certified organic simple syrup that was safe to consume while containing zero preservatives. On her very first attempt, she was told point-blank that it wasn’t possible. Luckily, Tara wasn’t working alone anymore and was given some great advice; Tara was encouraged to ask “Why?” when she was told something wasn’t possible, and that when the people involved in the scheduled process are met with something that hasn’t been done before, they will take the easy way out by saying “No.”

Tara learned to ask for solutions instead of accepting “No” as an answer, and with a lot of money spent tweaking the recipe even further, she was finally approved to move forward for Daysie to become a USDA-certified organic product. The correct information and certificates have to be provided for every single ingredient in a formulation, and because she had built these recipes herself, Tara was confident she would get the certification. There was a lot of time and money that went into the certification process, but it was one of the last steps in Daysie’s journey.

Tara describes the difference between the first experimental batches of Daysie as “100 times better than what I ever pulled off at home. Simple syrups imply by name that they would be simple to make. I can assure you that achieving a more nuanced taste profile is much harder, which is why we put ‘not so simple’ on our bottles.”

As Tara was looking into what it would take to turn her dream into a reality, she saw the inequalities that female entrepreneurs face when it comes to funding and resources compared to male business owners. The importance of supporting women entrepreneurs became just as important to Daysie’s founder as the flavors of her product. Daysie is a Public Benefit Company, which means Tara can make decisions on behalf of the good of her mission versus just the bottom line. her syrups, says they can enhance so

She has started her movement by sharing 2.1% of their post-tax profits with vetted organizations that provide grants to female owners of CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) businesses. Why 2.1%? “That percentage is our symbolic call for the need to raise more than 2% of the venture capital historically invested in women-owned businesses,” she states. “I know firsthand how hard it is to acquire capital while working multiple jobs to get to my launch, with only using my own dime. I’m certainly not saying that I should have been handed money, but women need to be given equal access to the funding and resources that are made available for men.” Tara hopes that Daysie’s contributions will become a catalyst for change and maybe even inspire others to do the same. She believes in sharing the stage with other women that are starting, owning, and operating their businesses so they can learn from one another.

Tara’s brand has launched, but that doesn’t mean she’s done dreaming. She wants to continue growing the company so she will be able to donate more towards funding women founders as her own empire grows and would love to collaborate with women that have made brands and businesses of their own.
Another goal is looking into ways to build an even more sustainable product than she already
has now. She can’t wait to see what people do with her syrups and says they can enhance so much more than coffee. She recommends using them as a drizzle for desserts or putting a dash or two in a cocktail. And as far as new flavors go? The sky’s the limit.

Tara says she is 100% focused on creating a variety of flavors and has a pipeline of some limited edition flavors she hopes to release as soon as possible. Tara explains why she has held back on certain flavors saying, “I started Daysie with flavors that felt approachable and ones that consumers would recognize. I want customers to trust me in the basic flavors so they are willing to go on flavor adventures with me in the future. We believe that any brand worth following should take you somewhere worth the trip.”The ultimate goal? To see her product on the shelves of Whole Foods. “That is the day in which I know I’ve made it because it was that moment without an option on the shelves that set this girl on fire.” AM

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