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Entrepreneur Anika Sawni stands holding one of her signature alcohol-free sangrias.

Richmond Hill-born Entrepreneur Anika Sawni is Making Alcohol-Free Drinks Mainstream

Grüvi has 18 full-time employees and sells its zero-proof sangria and nitro mocha stout at 3,500 North American stores. Anika, now 27, was named to Forbes’s 30 Under 30 list in its food and beverage category in 2021.

Growing up in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Anika Sawni was the rare kid you’d call a wellness buff: she ate nutritiously, hiked, skied and played ringette. Then, shortly after she left home in 2014 to study cognitive science at McGill, Anika abandoned her healthy habits in favour of tipsy nights out in Montreal. By her fourth year, she’d gone straight-edge—and not just because of the hangovers. “I saw my friends engage in sloppy behaviour, like regrettable hookups and missed tests,” she says. “I thought, Why is binge-drinking so normal?

These days, there’s no shortage of zero-proof proxies for partying Gen Zs, the most alcohol-free cohort in recent history. But back when Anika was newly sober, she had to settle for soda water with lime. After graduation, she pitched a booze-free beverage business to her older brother, Niki, who’d just quit his account-executive gig at Salesforce. “For major breweries, like Budweiser and Heineken, the non-alcoholic market seemed like an afterthought,” Anika says. In 2019, the siblings co-founded Grüvi, named to evoke a fun-and-loose ’70s feel, but also the countercultural aspect of staying sober in a drinker’s world. 

Full Article: macleans.ca