Women in Business: Jody Levy, Co-Founder + CEO of WTRMLN WTR

Jody Levy is the Co-founder and CEO of World Waters, a company committed to redefining how and what we drink to nourish our bodies and sustain our ecosystem. World Waters aims to develop promising new and efficient models of food production that eliminate waste and take the stress off our environment. As an environmentally sustainable and socially conscious beverage company, World Waters aims to grow water while using healthy practices that benefit our consumers and the earth.

World Waters first product WTRMLN WTR (watermelon water) launched in late 2013. WTRMLN WTR is a hot pink juicy drink that is packed with electrolytes, vitamins, Lycopene, anti-oxidants, magnesium, iron, L-Cittruline and more. WTRMLN WTR consists of nothing but raw watermelon and a drop of organic lemon juice. No added water, and no added sugar. WTRMLN WTR is cold-pressed and never heated with no additives, no preservatives, absolutely nothing artificial!

The mission of World Waters and WTRMLN WTR is to educate people about why clean healthy eating is so important for the health and sustainability of our communities.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I grew up outside of Detroit, in a family where hard work and determined focus was encouraged. I am an artist and a creative problem solver and was pushed to pursue my dreams from a very young age. This combination gave me the confidence and the tools to go out into the world with a sense that I could do anything. And as I made my way through, I took on endeavors and projects that had never been done before. Coming up with business strategies, creative concepts and artistic expressions that engage people and tell sensory stories. I learned that kindness and honesty was the way of the world, in life, in business and in all interactions. I try to carry that influence of hard work, feeling creatively free, and personal integrity into all things I do, and I aim to inspire others to do the same.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at WTRMLN WTR?
I have been designing experiences for companies, brands and products for many years. The philosophy behind the work has always been about appealing to the senses, and telling stories in ways that actively get people involved in them.

I am a maker, a producer, a director, a strategist and a storyteller. All of these qualities are brought to WTRMLN WTR each and every day to make the product and the company the best it can be. We not only differentiate our brand with our unique product but we work every day with a style and a philosophy that inspires us and do whatever we can to extend that to our consumers.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at WTRMLN WTR?
As an entrepreneur with a startup beverage company that has created a new category in the market, the list of highlights and tribulations are lengthy. Last year while we were creating WTRMLN WTR, each and every success was a celebration and with it a vivid and often humor filled story. There is glory in so many of the details: From convincing a university professor in Canada who was doing an experiment on wheat grass to sell us our first juice press, seeing our first few bottles on the shelves at Whole Foods Market, celebrating the opening of our small but mighty retail store on Spring street in the heart of New York City. The challenges are equally appreciated. Every step of the way was a roadblock where we have to explore all possible angles and choose the best path forward. But every challenge, without exception, has, and I have no doubt, will always lead to knowledge and growth and continue to define our great adventure.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking to have their own business?
I offer women the same advice as I do men. It takes stamina, intensity and a relentless drive to never give up. You have to love the flow, shift as the wind changes, be nimble, stay inspired and have as much fun as possible. Most importantly, get into the process; because the moment is all that is real, and building and sustaining a business takes a lot of forward planning, always considering the future. In order to maintain sanity you must love the process and find ways to be in the present.

I use this mantra often: Only this moment is life. It reminds me to enjoy the moment I am in no matter how difficult, frustrating, and intense it may be. Business should be fun and thrilling. The more you can get into that space, the better you will be and the more it will feed all aspects of your life.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
First, I make sure the people I am collaborating with are amazing. This makes work feel like play and play becomes work. I schedule time to do the things I need to do for myself to stay focused and happy. I work my schedule in a way that allows me to take time for my wellness and my happiness. And I surround myself with people who do the same for themselves. We all take care of ourselves and each other.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I think the biggest issue is that women see themselves differently than men. There are all kinds of people in the world. Some are amazing at some things, other things not so much. I think it's about people not a distinction between women and men. There are some qualities that are specific to some women (most women!) that are amazing in the workplace. In general, and I'm not big on generalities, women are determined, focused, highly intuitive and can multitask like superheroes!

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I have a handful of humans who have inspired my path. They all came from different walks of life, with varying focus. In each of their own language, they taught me to pursue my dreams, to believe in my own power, and to go after the vision of what I want to create in the world with all I have. I often source from those inspirations and lessons to propel me forward.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I have always been super inspired by Mary Wells Lawrence - there is a great book about her life titled A Big Life. She was one of the first women (arguably the first) in advertising. Her unbreakable spirit, at a time when it was tough for a woman to break into an all male world, was awesome, but it was the fact that she never cared and looked at it that way that inspired me most. She had brilliant creative ideas and pushed them into the world with the biggest companies and did it with guns blazing. She is a phenomenal human. There are so many other women from history who pushed into uncharted territory to get us to the place in society where we are today. There are so many women I meet every day who are doing incredible things in the world. They inspire me to be my best self and drive me as part of the collective of doers, committed to inspiring change.

What do you want WTRMLN WTR to accomplish in the next year?
WTRMLN WTR's underlying mission is about getting people into and giving them access to clean, good-for-you foods that are filled with nutrients and revive the body. Our goals are to expand into new markets and engage people with and in our story. We are working to expand beyond the natural food space so that we can share our 'liquid love' with as many people as possible.