barbet toronto

Toronto sisters start their own business after they both lost their jobs

When one of a pair of Toronto sisters had to stop drinking due to having epilepsy, of course their next step was to invent their very own sparkling water that could replace alcohol in her life.

Barbet has exploded onto the scene, appearing at IDS and in stores like Summerhill Market, Fiesta Farms and the newly opened GoodGood.

It all started when Katie Fielding, who has epilepsy, unfortunately had a bad seizure in (of all months) March 2020 and decided to go alcohol-free.

"She found herself reaching for pops/sodas she used to drink at the 'kids table' and felt disconnected to the social moments around her, constantly being asked the question, 'Why aren't you drinking?'" her sister and Barbet co-founder Andrea Grand tells blogTO. 

The pair set out to create a beverage line that would improve on some key factors: flavour, values and branding. Fielding and Grand also both lost their jobs during lockdown, and only working freelance/contract allowed them to focus on Barbet.

"We wanted to create full-flavoured sparkling beverages that were water elevated, not watered down and were for the modern drinker or non-drinker," says Grand.

"Something that wouldn't make people feel excluded in a social setting, tasted delicious, could be paired with a spirit or stand on its own, and also looked great."

Barbet makes sparkling water in flavours like Love Bite (grapefruit, ginger and juniper), Wild Card (blood orange, calamansi and jalapeno) and Light Wave (cucumber, pineapple and lavender).

Even though they call it sparkling water, it still comes in fun pop-like colours like pink, purple and orange. As for the most popular flavours, Wild Card has been a sell-out.

Fielding and Grand are technically stepsisters, but have been so for over 20 years, so they dropped the "step" long ago.

"A good partnership in any part of life is based on good communication and trust," says Grand.

"We were always close growing up, so the trust and communication was always there, but we work hard every day to make sure we are sisters first, business partners second."

Since January 2021, Grand has been working on Barbet full time. Fielding has actually been on maternity leave with her first child.

Six-packs are $17 and 12-packs are $34.20 on the Barbet website and can be purchased online for delivery across Canada. In addition to retailers, Barbet has also started appearing at restaurants, bars and cafes like Arvo, Boxcar Social and Paradise Grapevine.

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