Strategy

Interview: Hydrant's John Sherwin on Listening to Your Customers

The DTC wellness brand co-founder talks about strategic growth and building trust.

Welcome to Direct-to-Conversation, a recurring interview feature from DTC Magazine. These conversations highlight insights, advice, and innovation strategies from leading thinkers in the DTC, eCommerce, and retail space. Our most recent interview was with Lindsay McCormick, the founder and CEO of Bite, the sustainability-focused DTC oral care brand.

In this Direct-to-Conversation, we catch up with John Sherwin, the founder and CEO of Hydrant, the sustainability-focused DTC wellness brand.


 DTC Magazine: I'm curious about how Hydrant went from a concept to an actual product. What was the oasis-in-the-desert moment?

John Sherwin: I had the classic founder experience - I had a problem that I wanted to solve for myself, and I couldn’t find a solution for it anywhere on the market. I had just graduated college and realized that constant dehydration was causing me to feel fatigued all the time. Water is inefficient and leaves you running to the bathroom constantly. Sports drinks are full of sugar and not very effective. I wanted to solve the problem for myself. The white space in the market was there and Hydrant was born. 

DTC: Hydrant is a product that requires a little bit of consumer education. How do you generally message that pitch?

JS: Hydration is about more than just water, it’s about fluid balance in the body. To be truly hydrated, your body needs to strike a delicate balance of water and key electrolytes. Hydrant's formula, which is mixed into water, is optimized for your body to hydrate quickly.

The other part of that consumer education is this concept of proactive hydration. Rather than waiting for the effects of dehydration to take hold, we encourage everyone to get ahead of it.

When we hear customers describe problems in their lives or routines that we can help to solve, we get to work fixing them.

DTC: You've expanded into four different functioning lines—Hydrate, Energy, Immunity, and Sleep. What's been a key to growth in a way that feels authentic.

JS: We're careful to listen to our customers closely before jumping into new functional products. We don’t want to expand our functional lines so fast that what we stand for stops making sense.

When we hear customers describe problems in their lives or routines that we can help to solve, we get to work fixing them. For example, we just launched SLEEP this month and were blown away at how many existing customers immediately purchased. To us, this meant that it was either a dramatically under-served category or, more likely, that our customers trust us to release a quality product. 

Make sure your knowledge of the science is strong, because consumers know their stuff.

DTC: What advice would you have for somebody who's interested in creating a wellness product?

JS: Make sure your knowledge of the science is strong, because consumers know their stuff. Throwing together a few ingredients that are trendy is not a great way to build trust and loyalty with your customers, so go deep on what ingredients you choose and why.