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Meet Darby Jackson and Sonny McCracken of Après

Today we’d like to introduce you to Darby Jackson and Sonny McCracken.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
One of the really cool things about our founding story is that the genesis of our product really and truly came from a need we saw in the market. Even cooler, it was something our community of family and friends really wanted and needed. With that said, this all started during a conversation I had with my now-fiancé Courtney.

She came home from work one day and asked for a post-workout snack recommendation that could “bridge the gap” between her workout and next meal. She works in a demanding job where she is super busy and always short on time, so she needed something that was both nutritious and super convenient.

As a former collegiate athlete, my immediate reaction was to point her toward protein, as it’s proven to both help with recovery and provide enough satiation to buy her some time until her next meal. We talked a bit more about what she wanted, and I came to understand that she was tired of protein bars, as she didn’t like the taste or texture or how heavy they sat in her stomach, and protein powders sans smoothie blender were out of the question.

So we focused on pre-made protein drinks and were really surprised to find that there was nothing in the market that suited her needs, either because it was made for gym bros trying to bulk up or contained “no-no” ingredients. Flash forward a few months to when I left my job at BCG to pursue this full time, and it was then that Courtney introduced me to Darby, a health coach here in the Bay Area, who was a friend-of-a-friend from their shared Cal Berkeley days.

I wanted to chat with Darby about what I wanted to create, and she jumped on board almost immediately. She totally understood and recognized the pinpoint we were trying to solve from her everyday work with her clients and was excited to help create something brand new. In all, it took us about a year and a half to get the formulation right, and we ultimately launched last November just before the holidays.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Designing the beverage itself was incredibly difficult! We had really strict parameters around what we wanted in the beverage, and then even more importantly, what we didn’t want it in.

Plus, outside of just protein in Après, it’s packed with MCT rich virgin coconut oil and coconut water. It’s the first beverage of its kind with this combination, so it took our team over a year and a half and 300+ iterations on each flavor to get it right.

Après – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Après was inspired by our community of friends, family, and clients that were asking for a clean and convenient protein product that spoke to them. We were tired of ‘bulk and bicep’ proteins packed with ingredients that were terrifying, so we decided to build the beverage ourselves, with no beverage background mind you!

I think that’s one of the first things that truly sets us apart. The entire business was inspired by our communities, and we built the product to fit exactly what they would need. We are hyper-focused on our consumer and talk to her at least 2-3 personally per day. It’s one of the main reasons we decided to launch online first instead of in store.

When a customer purchases from us online we have a direct line of communication to them. We can hop on the phone and say hey, what did you really think? Which flavors should we come out with next and what can we do better? This communication has been instrumental in our early success.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Darby: Personally, I measured my success by how healthy and energized I feel. Health and energy are the two most important factors for a really full life! When I feel good and have the energy I need to give to my work and everyone around me, things just flow.

There have been times, even in this business, where I haven’t felt that way. I’ve been stressed and exhausted and have had to make a conscious effort to lean into that. The combination of constant stress mixed with exhaustion will take you as far away from success as you can get.

Pricing:

  • Après 5-pack is $30
  • Après 24-pack is $108

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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