Q&A with Founders of hiyo, The 'Social Tonic' That'll Make You Float

Posted by Boisson Staff on

While summer days are getting shorter, our summer bucket lists are only growing. We’re trying to socialize, juggle multiple priorities, and make the most out of the last month of the season. And often, our efforts to stay productive come bundled with FOMO anxiety. Luckily, help is on the way. 

We sat down with Evan Quinn, George Youmans, Cygne Cooper — the three dreamers from SoCal whose ambition to challenge the status quo in the beverage space and create a drink that’s not merely a substitute to alcohol, but a better alternative to it, brought to us a line of premium stress-relieving tonics called hiyo. 

Their colorful packages remind us of carefree days at the beach, as if inviting us to soak up the sunshine right from the can, relax, and look into tomorrow with confidence – as it is full of promise, not anxiety and hangovers. 

 

Where are the three of you from and how did you meet?

hiyo founders headshot
 
‘I'm from a suburb outside of Los Angeles called Westlake Village’, — starts George, — ‘Evan is from Scottsdale, and Cygne is from Omaha, Nebraska. We met at college at USC. Evan and I were roommates, and Cygne was always one of our closest girl friends. We haven't been able to get rid of one another since.’

   

What was your inspiration to create hiyo?

Despite Hiyo’s uber positive, SoCal, happy in your own vibe, the entire concept was born out of frankly the worst time in my and Evan’s lives.  In April 2019, we both had family members hospitalized with alcohol-related issues. This coincidentally tragic event caused us to cut back our drinking, and we saw a massive need for a non-alc option that actually deserved it’s place at the table. All of the non-alc options felt like sacrifices: boring soda and lime, bizarre energy drinks, and non alcoholic beers or sugary mocktails without the main reason we used to drink: the feeling.  We thought there had to be a better way to get a similar stress-relieving, mood-boosting feeling that people usually seek from alcohol, but instead from healthy-functional ingredients. 

What were you guys doing before hiyo? Are there past experiences that you've unexpectedly drawn from to create or guide your business?

I worked in entertainment and music marketing at Red Bull and then a health-food start up that helped brands with their go-to-market strategies.  Evan was in finance then got his MBA at UCLA.  Cygne was at Endeavor, WME's brand agency. We all have continued to stay in those lanes for the most part with hiyo: I'm still working on sales and marketing, Evan is still running the back-of-house numbers keeping the lights on, and Cygne is the engine that drives all things brand.  

You're located in California, correct? How would you describe the West Coast lifestyle and how do you see nonalcoholic alternatives vibing with that way of life?

Southern California, particularly LA, is an awesome melting pot of people and opportunity.  Not unlike New York, you can find a community around whatever you're passionate about, whether that's health and wellness, or partying with socialites, or becoming a star, or launching a business, or producing a movie.  But it's a big city with a lot of people here, which makes it competitive! Everyone in this city has a dream and unfortunately, not all of them will be realized. Non-alc options allow you to find the things that you're passionate about and chase them. Back when I was still drinking, I felt like my hangovers would get in the way of all things that I wanted to get done, whether that was as simple as soaking in the sun on a beautiful beach day or pouring myself fully into my career.  Non-alc options allow you to chase those big dreams!  

We love adaptogenic beverages. Can you share a little more about the ones you chose to incorporate into hiyo and what benefits they provide?

A big thing with hiyo was that we wanted to be au naturale, making our adaptogenic beverage as inviting as possible. So we used all organic adaptogens, nootropics, and functional botanicals in each of our tonics to try to create the ideal social mood: stress-free, mood-boosted, and happy! Backing into that feeling we added stress-relieving ashwaghanda, calming and focusing l-theanine, cognitive boosting lion's mane, and energizing codyceps. Because we're overachievers, we added ginger to aid digestion and turmeric to fight inflamation.  We're also pretty darn proud that all of these ingredients are certified organic. 

You've talked about achieving "float"—what does that mean and how did you discover this concept?

hiyo drinks functional tonic
After enjoying some of the early batches of hiyo, we definitely felt "something" but didn't know what to call it.  It wasn't like a buzz from beer and it wasn't a high from cannabis, it was something else.  Not inebriating or dulling, just pleasant.  Ultimately, we semi-branded this new feeling as "the float" because we felt free from the typical stress that weighed us down.  When one of us said "idk I think I feel kind of floaty" we just ran with it and here we are! 
  

Where did the name hiyo come from?

Well, for one it came from a very long list on a very large whiteboard, but hiyo stands for Happy In Your Own, which is our modern take on the idiom "happy in your own skin."  At hiyo, we want people to be comfortable and happy in the way they choose to live their life.  Historically, those that choose to drink less have felt ostracized for this choice.  We're trying to change that with a NA option that you can be proud to drink.

Our motto at Boisson is seeing the Glass Half-Full. How do you think alcohol-free alternatives like hiyo allow people to see the glass half-full? 

 As a relentlessly optimistic person, I love that. I think the NA options that exist now (and particularly hiyo) is something that involves no sacrifice.  You get to enjoy the evening, drinking a delicious beverage with friends, feeling good then wake up feeling amazing with no hangxiety in sight. Your mornings can instead be full of things that fill your cup.  Stringing together days and weeks and months feeling good is powerful!  That momentum allows us to get closer to becoming the best versions of ourselves which is something that doesn't just "feel good" but allows us to be more fulfilled.  

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