Greenville Rebel Rabbit co-founders Billy Goldsmith and Pierce Wylie both have personal experiences that shaped their new business venture — a nonalcoholic beverage brand — that they hope will “change the culture of drinking.”
Their manufacturing site is the former Brewery 85 location at 6 Whitlee Court in Greenville — a seven-acre property.
Upstate Beverage Consultants acquired the building. Services include research and development, custom flavor formulation, beverage co-packing, packaging, sourcing and procurement, supply chain management and logistics, and branding and marketing.
Related article: Greenville brewery to close after a decade in business
Wylie spent nearly eight years working in behavioral health, and he and Goldsmith have been friends since the first grade, he said.
“Billy was in (alcohol) recovery, and I was helping treat people with addictions,” he said.
Goldsmith said the business was more or less created out of need during a time he was abstaining from alcohol.
“These are experiences near to our hearts,” said Goldsmith. “To make a drink that is still fun but effective for us as well.”
Wylie said he and Goldsmith noticed a gap in the market, especially in the Upstate, for non-alcoholic beverage manufacturing, more specifically, cannabis beverages with natural ingredients.
“We spent a few years building our own boutique brand,” said Wylie. “As we were doing our due diligence, there weren’t really any in South Carolina.”
More broadly, he added, they also noticed what looked like a saturated brewery market, but no non-alcoholic manufacturing facilities.
“We want to change the culture of drinking and want to be inclusive of other things besides alcohol,” Wylie said. “Whether you’re younger or older, people are drinking less than ever before, especially in the Gen Z age group. We want to provide these safer and healthier options to drink and want to pioneer and normalize having a drink other than alcohol.”
Rebel Rabbit’s line of beverages contain hemp-derived Delta-9 THC. The beverages are alcohol-free but created to provide a similar feeling of relaxation and enjoyment without the dehydrating effects or “next-day hangover” of alcohol. Hemp-derived THC is federally legal at certain concentrations due to the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, according to a news release.
Wylie and Goldsmith are currently speaking with several different companies within a wide beverage range — crafts sodas, lemonades, energy drinks, ready-to-drink mocktails, etc.
“We want to emulate a feeling of creative functional ingredients in our beverage products to bring to the market,” said Wylie. “Society is dominated by alcohol, a large piece of all social gatherings, of social functions, and it was not helping us. Alcohol isn’t the best way to destress, it can cause anxiety and depression among other things. UBC and Rebel share this same mission and flipping the narrative upside down that alcohol is not the only way. There are other options, and we want to create a platform that supports this, using our life experiences of falling into the trap of drinking alcohol. We know our stories aren’t unique to us but reducing America’s alcohol consumption is the goal for us, and that’s why we are passionate about it.”
The pair want to get the ball rolling in the next 60-90 days while they wait on state licensing.
As manufacturing is a major driver in South Carolina, Wylie said, there is a lot of opportunity to build out this idea.
“We are super excited to support a lot of local businesses, labs, hemp farmers, under UBC, and this will create a lot of jobs in the state, working in warehouses, third-party logistics, corporate back-office function. There really isn’t one of these in South Carolina, so over a period of time, this should lend itself to many jobs and other initiatives that align with the state’s.”
Rebel Rabbit products are slated to be on shelves at select retail stores in 12 states and available online nationwide.