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To trace the origins and the heart of Wild Tonic®, we must look back to when Holly Lyman, the brand’s founder, was a young girl. Holly spent her summers at her grandmother’s 40-acre homestead in North Pole, Alaska where she has vivid, joyful memories of her grandmother’s greenhouse that was also a makeshift art studio. “It was like walking into an altered reality” she recounted, “There were fragrant tomatoes everywhere and in the middle of the greenhouse sat her chair, easel, and oil paints.” She remembers sitting in a rocking chair as her grandmother taught her to paint. And when they weren’t painting, she was learning the art of fermentation. Holly has fond memories of picking and gathering dandelions and Alaskan rosehips that grew wild on the homestead to help her grandmother make her legendary wild-crafted wines.
Although she did not realize it then, Holly’s cherished time at her grandmother’s log cabin in the Tundra would shape her future in ways she never would have imagined. Her initial path led her on an artistic journey, shaped by several types of artistic media and she eventually found herself gravitating towards painting with beeswax (the art of encaustic painting). The more she painted, the more she learned about the declining bee population and the effects it could have on the future. Holly’s new-found passion for encaustic painting and bee conservation became the catalyst to the next chapter in her life.
One day at her summer home in eastern Washington, Holly’s husband Randy challenged her to channel her inner childhood memories to create a healthy energy drink, and more importantly, one that tasted good. Having heard many of Holly’s childhood stories—the time spent fermenting with her grandmother, in particular—Randy knew that once Holly put her mind it, something brilliant would manifest. He also knew that she never backed down from a challenge. After several hundred experiments, fermenting anything and everything she could get her hands on, Holly accidently stumbled upon the art of “Jun.” She instantly fell in love with this ancient method of fermenting with honey and its signature flavor profile. Little did she know that her next adventure pursuing this lost art was about to begin.
A short time later, Holly visited Sedona on vacation. Instantly captivated by the beauty of the landscape and the palpable energy, Holly came to two realizations: she wanted to brew for a living and relocate to Arizona. “Without question,” she said “a force greater than myself drew me to the red rocks of Sedona. I returned home and told Randy ‘we are moving to Sedona!’ Several months later, we had found a new home and started the Wild Tonic® brewery” And so began the Wild Tonic® Revolution!
Two and a half years later, Wild Tonic® has become both a leader and disruptor in the beverage industry. Holly’s passion for art and innovation is galvanizing the forces behind the brand and its success. In addition, Wild Tonic® is made up of diverse, passionate people who have helped forge an amazing culture.
Looking back now, Holly acknowledges her grandmother’s immense contributions, “She taught me much more than how to paint and ferment, she taught me how to transform everyday life into an art by using resources in unexpected ways!”