Sure, Nude Beverages is a permanent fixture in many Canadians’ refrigerators these days (you’ll find cans of the vodka soda’s cucumber mint flavour in ours), but did you know the company, headed by founder and CEO Julius Makarewicz, also gives back in a big way in the area of animal rescue and safety? The company has already donated $215,000 to this cause and holds a goal of donating $1 million by 2023. We chatted with Julius about his coolers and his passion for critters—and we’re partnering with Nude to give you a chance to donate $500 to your fave furry friends cause! —Noa Nichol
Hi Julius! Please tell us a bit about yourself, and Nude, to start.
I grew up in Powell River and then moved to Vancouver to go to school at SFU. In 2013 I left school to start working on the idea for Nude. Nude is Canada’s first 5% sugar-free canned vodka soda—although now we have expanded to include gin sodas, tequila sodas, ice teas and hard seltzers. While I was at school I had realized that there was a huge gap in the market for sugar-free alcoholic beverages, especially ones that actually taste great and you want to drink. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and run my own business and so after speaking to friends, family and investors I knew I had to pursue the idea for Nude.
Congrats on hitting the major milestone of 70 million cans sold in Canada! What can we expect next?
Thank you! It was a huge goal for us to hit 70 million cans, our team has worked really hard to get here. We launched in Ontario at the end of 2019 and we’re really excited to now be available across Canada. Canada has been a leader in the ready to drink category with a lot of the most popular options on the market coming from here. We’ve seen the industry change a lot since we started in 2017, it seems every company, small or large, is coming out with their own vodka soda or hard seltzer these days. Right now, we’re number 1 in Western Canada (but of course we want to be Canada’s favourite across the country!). However, Nude is going to be a global brand, we just launched into the U.S. and our goal there is to be the number 3 seltzer.
With the ready-to-drink beverage market growing rapidly (at a rate of 80% from 2019 to 2020), what’s next for Nude and how do you plan to continue to innovate?
There has been a huge movement toward more health-conscious lifestyle choices and because of that this category is growing so quickly with people demanding alcoholic beverage products that are “better for you”. They don’t want to wake up with horrible sugar-induced hangovers in the morning, but the thing is, they don’t want to compromise on taste either. We are always innovating new flavours and products, I think that’s one thing that makes Nude stand out—we work hard to create innovations that fit all flavour profiles so that whether you’re a vodka, tequila or gin drinker we’ve created a sugar and carb free ready-to-drink beverages that you can enjoy. We are continually testing and trialling new flavours, a lot of which never make it out of the lab. Up next, we have a couple exciting new flavours that will land in our holiday advent calendar. Last year we saw such a huge response to one of the limited-edition flavours in that set, and we actually turned it into a permanent part of our lineup. A lot of how we decide what to bring to market is based on the feedback from the people that love and drink our product. We want to hear from those people what they love and what they want.
We hear you are an animal lover (us, too!). Where does this passion come from? Why and how does Nude support animal welfare organizations?
I’ve always loved animals and grown up with lots of animals around. When I found out that animal rescues aren’t government funded in Canada and that organizations rely only on private donations, I knew I wanted my company to support animal welfare. Now, we support animal welfare organizations because we love animals, our whole team does and it’s a big part of our bigger mission to raise awareness and support for rescues and the rehabilitation of animals. Each can proudly has our #pawsofnude hashtag and we try to partner with as many animal lovers and rescue supporters as possible in the various programs we run throughout the year—it’s really something that we have woven into every aspect of the company. A portion of all sales from Nude products goes toward animal welfare. In each market we’re sold in, we work with local animal rescue organizations to support them annually with monetary and supplies donations. We love being able to connect with each local community and meet the people who are doing amazing things in their area.
What are some of the animal orgs Nude has supported or does support?
Loved at Last Dog Rescue Society, Regina Humane Society, Save our Scruff, Gerdy’s Animal Rescue and Adoption, Yukon Wildlife Preserve Operating Society, Helen Woodward Animal Centre, Colorado Rescue (C.A.R.E) and Midwest Animal Rescue and Services.
OK, the all-important question: dogs or cats?!
I love both, but I have to say we have an office full of cat lovers, with lots of rescues!
Win! 1 of 2 $500 Donations By Nude To An Animal Rescue Organization Of Your Choice!
Nude will donate, on behalf of two lucky Canadian winners, two $500 donations to the animal rescue organization of each winner’s choice! To enter, follow @vitadaily.ca on Instagram and complete the giveaway instructions on our corresponding contest post. Contest opens October 12th, 2020, and closes October 19th, 2020. Entrants must be legal drinking age to enter. Rules and regulations here. Good luck!