For anyone who’s ever said, “I don’t have enough time,” talk to the hand — or rather, Jane Gottschalk. Besides running three companies, Jax Coco coconut water, Perfect Moment ski and surf wear and Ohso probiotic chocolates, the svelte blonde is also a mother of four young children (with a fifth on the way), the owner of 15 dogs (five of which are in Hong Kong) and an animal rights activist who rescues bears from bile farms in her spare time.
“I’m going to Chengdu tomorrow to visit a sanctuary,” Gottschalk told us over coffee at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, referring to her work as ambassador for Animals Asia. Her eyes lit up as she showed us the latest bears she’d visited in Vietnam on her iPhone, followed by a narrated slideshow of her 15 dogs.
While we would’ve loved to spend the afternoon talking all things furry, we were there to find out more about her newest venture, Jax Coco, a stylish brand of coconut water that’s currently taking Hong Kong and the world by storm.
“My husband and I invested in an American coconut water brand six years ago, and when it first came out, nobody really knew the health benefits of it,” explained Gottschalk, who was living in Ibiza and the UK at the time. “We heard it was the next big thing coming out of America and watched it grow exponentially worldwide.”
“When we moved to Hong Kong, the first thing I did was stock the fridge with things that were familiar to me,” she recalled. “I wanted to get coconut water but I couldn’t, so I started lugging home six fresh coconuts a day and hacking the tops off just to get my daily fix of coconut water. That’s when I thought, ‘There’s got to be a market for this.’”
After a chance meeting with father-and-son duo Jason and Alex Ing at a dinner in Hong Kong, where Gottschalk happened to be sipping on a coconut water from the Philippines, Jax Coco was born (the name comes from the common letters in the four founders’ names: Jane, Max, Jason and Alex).
“We stuck a business plan together, put some money into it and 50 million coconuts later, we had a business,” said Gottschalk. At the time, there was no readily packaged form of pure coconut water available in supermarkets — just sugary versions that cancelled out its many health benefits. On top of that, coconut water in restaurants usually came already poured because they were only available in “gaudy tetrapaks”.
“I wanted to put [coconut water] in a bottle that you could put on the table and present as ‘Still, sparkling or coconut water?” she explained. “So, I asked the best designer that I knew in the world, Alisdhair Willis (that’s Stella McCartney’s husband) to create something that’s sophisticated, elegant and minimalistic — a cross between a sake and water bottle.”
The resulting design is sleek and sexy, pushing coconut water beyond the realms of the sports industry and into the worlds of music, fashion and art.
How does Gottschalk know Stella McCartney? “London’s a small place,” she laughed. “My kids go to school with Stella’s kids, so it’s a whole different kind of friendship. When you’re sitting together in the morning and singing songs — you’re all just mothers. From there, we had connections into Elton John’s office, who are all really big supporters.”
Today, Elton John is a co-owner of Jax Coco and Liz Hurley, Stephen Fry and Sophia Ellis-Baxter are all die-hard fans. The brand has partnered with Ibiza-based nightclub Pacha and British artist Marc Quinn to create limited edition Jax Coco bottles, and will soon be collaborating with a Chinese artist next.
On the sports side, Jax Coco sponsors British triathlete Vanessa Raw and organises the annual Jax Coco Challenge in Hong Kong, a 10-kilometre run and 5-kilometre family fun run that takes place in February.
Bartenders around the world are also picking up Jax Coco to create new and exciting cocktails, including the Coco Tall Negroni and Choco Coco Jaxtini by renowned mixologist Giancarlo Mancino, and Curse of the Monkey and Doctor Jax at Honi Honi Tiki Cocktail Lounge.
“We’ll give them recommendations but bartenders like to come up with their own drinks,” Gottschalk explained while showing us a raspberry mint Jax Coco cocktail on her phone that someone had sent in. “It also goes very nicely with rum. There’s a new rum company called Smatts and people are already calling it ‘Jax and Smatts’ — it’s brilliant!”
Her favourite cocktail is a mix of coconut water, rum and fresh pineapple juice — something she calls “a healthy pina colada,” and she starts each day with Jax Coco and a cup of lemon water.
With its high levels of natural electrolytes including magnesium, sodium, phosphorous, potassium and calcium, coconut water is not only a healthy alternative to water but the ultimate hydration and hangover cure.
“It’s really a no-brainer,” said Gottschalk. “In this weather and humidity, you lose so much salt and electrolytes. You can choose to drink some powdered and sugary crap or you could have something natural that’s not going to ruin your workout.”
Besides coming out with a larger litre-version for home use and a smaller kid’s version, Jax Coco is currently testing a sparkling version to “go head-to-head with Red Bull,” according to Gottschalk.
It’s all in a day’s work for this busy entrepreneur, but we couldn’t let her go without asking for some tips on how she does it all — kids, dogs and businesses in tow.
“I think it’s the old adage of ‘Give a busy woman something to do and it gets done,’” she said. “Women are programmed to multi-task, and it’s about not being afraid of doing too much. If it does, I tend to just walk away.”
“Getting up early in the morning is key,” she added. “Between 6am and 9am, you can practically do a day’s work — you can exercise, get the kids ready and answer 20 emails. It’s hard because I’m not a morning person but if I’m not up by 6am, I feel the day slipping away.”
(Originally published on LifestyleAsia.com)