Valentines turned entrepreneurs tout Greenwich beverage brand
For Greenwich couple Eva Maria Janerus and Kevin Mowers, the origin stories of their relationship and business are intertwined. That is why they are spending Valentine’s Day traveling to Barbados and St. Lucia for a research trip, said Janerus, framing her sentence with air quotes.
Business purposes prompt their occasional tours of the Caribbean islands because they are in the alcoholic beverage industry and there is no better place to source rum, said Mowers, a longtime food scientist.
Together, the couple founded rum-based drink brand Bom Bom, which launched a year and a half ago, they said in an interview this week. Bom Bom is sold in 11 states, including bars and stores across southwestern Connecticut.
Janerus and Mowers trace the beginning of Bom Bom back several years to their early stages of dating. Despite Mowers’ extensive background in crafting popular food and drinks, his attempts to impress Janerus with his skills mostly flopped. Previously, he had worked at Diageo, Kraft Heinz, ConAgra Foods and Campbell’s. Mowers tried mixing Janerus drinks featuring top-shelf whiskeys, bourbons and other spirits. “I tried to showcase high-end stuff,” he said.
Janerus did not particularly like his creations, and she did not try to hide her distaste. “I’m pretty direct,” she said, with her now-husband adding, “She makes the perfect focus group.”
Unwilling to give up, Mowers decided to deconstruct his romance’s favorite candy, Mounds. The Hershey’s bar is filled with shredded coconut and covered with dark chocolate. “I have a serious sweet tooth,” Janerus said.
Mowers said he “melted down” a Mounds and reverse-engineered it into a mixed drink that he hoped would win the approval of Janerus, who remembers feeling skeptical when he asked her to come try the creation. After tasting it, “I think my phrase was ‘I’m going to bathe in this,’” Janerus said.
In the following months, Janerus repeatedly asked Mowers to make the Mounds-inspired drink for her and her friends. It was eventually dubbed “Bom Bom,” which means “good good” in Portuguese and is slang for “my sweetie” in Spain, the couple said.
They launched the brand together in 2016 and they’re enjoying working in an industry that “transcends the office. We all like to partake in libations,” Janerus said. “I think the biggest part of our success has been having fun and sharing that with other people.”
Before helping Mowers self-fund the launch of Bom Bom, Janerus had worked in finance. Now, she handles much of Bom Bom’s business while her husband focuses on the beverage creation and innovation. Bom Bom currently markets two products: the original, comprised of chocolate, coffee, coconut and Caribbean rum called Coco Mochanut, and Nilli Vanilli, made with rum, almond milk and vanilla cookie flavors.
The couple promises a third drink will be released in a few months.
Looking ahead, the entrepreneurs aspire to triple their distribution every year, which they believe they can do by focusing on large distribution partners, such as Stew Leonard’s. The wine and spirits chain’s Danbury location was their first account, they said, with other area partners including BevMax shops around Connecticut and A1 Cellars in Greenwich.
com; Twitter @Macaela_