CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Emily Heintz always dreamed of starting her own company and when she started drinking less two years ago, she discovered a need for non-alcoholic options in the Lowcountry.
She was already experimenting with a 30-day alcohol-free challenge called the “Alcohol Experiment” and noticed how much better it made her feel to replace her normal wine and beer with the non-alcoholic versions.
“I really noticed from a health perspective that I slept better, I was able to be social because I had alternatives and didn’t feel like I was at an event and missing out because I was drinking water,” Heintz said.
She figured other people wanted alternatives too, but noticed a gap in the market for a one-stop-shop for booze-less beverages.
“I thought you know what I think there are probably other people who feel the same way,” she said. “I started exploring alternatives on my own and found some functional beverages like Kin Euphorics and just started noticing all these great brands coming to market, but they were coming direct-consumer.”
So she launched her own company called Sèchey, which means “to be dry” in French, and her online store boasts a variety of non-alcoholic beverage options like booze-less wine, beer, and spirits.
“Our target is really people who are sober curious, California sober, people who want to take a couple days off, or those who are doing the 30-day cleanse,” she said.
She stocked up on popular brands like Kin Euphorics, Ghia, and Ritual, brands that use natural ingredients to create a drink that tastes and feels like the real thing without the liquor. All of these booze-less brands represent a growing interest in non-alcoholic beverages. Forbes reports that non-alcoholic beer sales increased by 44% in 2020.
“I think the innovation and the space is pretty exciting,” she said.
Some of these beverages are even designed to mimic the effects of an alcohol buzz using additives, adaptogens, and eutrophics.
Heintz dreams of opening a storefront that features a functional bar and bottle shop, a place where alcohol drinkers and sober people alike can enjoy a social outing. She said it would be a dry-ish bar where 75% of the menu is low or no alcohol alternatives and 25% is traditional alcohol.
“Sèchey is founded on inclusivity and nonjudgment, so whether you drink or you don’t drink, I want people to feel welcome,” she said. “You can bring your husband or your friends or host a baby shower and everyone has an option.”
Heintz has faced challenges in her search for a permanent space but plans to open a pop-up shop at The Restoration hotel for two weeks in December and January. She will also have booths at Second Sunday on November 14 and December 12.
“It’s a great way for people to come try and see some of the brands,” she said.
Heintz said her goal with Sèchey is to show people that non-alcoholic options exist and create a more inclusive drinking culture in Charleston.
“My goal was to build a community in Charleston around this idea and to let people know there are options and you can still be social,” she said.