By Tirzah Rowland
Maxine Henderson founded Bollygood Sparkling Beverages in 2021 to share her love for the flavors of her ancestral culture of India. In September, the company introduced four flavors and a complete packaging redesign at Expo East 2023 in Philadelphia that will be featured on shelves at Pop-Up Grocer in New York City in December.
Inspired by summers spent in India as a child, Henderson, a Carmel resident, remembered being captivated by the vibrancy of colors in Bollywood films and the flavors of the food.
“I soaked up the culture, enjoyed elephant rides and going to markets,” Henderson said.
She also remembers the overload of patterns, chaos of the atmosphere and vibrant red hues.
One of the highlights of the visits was enjoying nimbu pani, Hindi for lemon water.
“Nimbu pani is a centuries-old drink shared over time in markets or at home,” Henderson said.
Nimbu pani Ingredients include water, citrus juice, sugar and Indian spices.
Although her parents emigrated from India to Canada, where she was born and raised, she was immersed in their culture and wanted to share that with her own family.
“When I had kids, reading labels became more important to me. I would see Indian-inspired food but no Indian-inspired beverages,” Henderson said.
So, she started making variations of nimbu pani, experimenting with ingredients and flavors and eventually adding carbonation.
“It was my husband who inspired me to sell my product,” said Henderson, who is married to former Indiana University basketball standout Alan Henderson. “I was a stay-at-home mom for 10 years. When we first started talking about the idea, we had four kids under age 5.”
In October 2021 her kids were all in school, and she founded Bollygood as creator of the first canned nimbu pani.
“Alan started his entrepreneurial journey in the alcoholic space (Henderson Spirits Group) a couple of years ahead of me and continues to share invaluable advice along the way,” Henderson said.
The mission of Bollygood is “to spread happiness and culture through delicious Indian-inspired beverages while supporting the empowerment of women and women-owned businesses in the USA and India.”
Henderson did not set out to become an entrepreneur. She holds a degree in electrical engineering from The University of Western Ontario and worked for Motorola in Georgia for seven years.
“My experience in engineering has helped me look at the process in a detailed and organized way and take time to make sure things are right,” Henderson said. “Everything took longer than I thought.”
Henderson promoted Bollygood on social media, through store samples and across the nation at events, even appearing on QVC.
“We soon realized we had a very culture-curious, health-conscious customer base and needed to adapt,” Henderson said. “I care about what I eat and want customers to feel good about what they are putting in their bodies.”
The Bollygood “relaunch,” as Henderson calls it, includes new packaging and taste profiles.
The four flavors are lemon ginger mint, lemon mango turmeric, lemon pomegranate cardamom and lime basil cumin, each with 50 calories and seven grams of sugar per serving. The beverages are Project Non-GMO Verified and now have 50 percent less sugar than the original formula.
“Our ingredients are sourced in the USA,” Henderson said. “We were particular about every ingredient that went into our beverages.”
Kristin Patrick, co-owner of Loren’s Alcohol Free Beverages in Carmel, said she was interested in carrying Bollygood products in the store “from the moment Maxine approached us.”
“We love the packaging and price point, but more importantly, we love the taste,” Patrick said. “We also knew it would mix well with zero-proof spirits. Most of our customers don’t want complicated drinks. They want something they can pop open and sip or mix with one other ingredient.”
While Henderson and her husband run the daily operations of the company, they have a third party logistics that sends out orders from their website. All of the products are canned in Georgia at Beverage Solutions, Inc. and they recently signed with KeHe, a national distributor.
“We are ready to expand and bring Indian culture to more shelves,” Henderson said.
They are actively seeking investors to help them grow the company and distribution opportunities.
Henderson was chosen as one of 50 women in the 2023 Tory Burch Foundation Fellows Program providing networking and coaching for emerging women entrepreneurs.
Bollygood can be purchased online at bollygood.com and locally at Loren’s Alcohol Free Beverages 5790 E. Main Street in Carmel.
Bollygood relaunch party
Kristin Patrick and Andee Simpson, co-founders of Loren’s Alcohol Free Beverages, welcome the public to a relaunch party for Bollygood Sparkling Beverages from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 10 at the store, 5790 E. Main St. in Carmel.
Bollygood Founder and CEO Maxine Henderson will be on site to introduce the new packaging and flavors. Attendees can enjoy music and giveaways and purchase Bollygood variety packs for $12.
Bollygood products are always available at Loren’s along with alcohol-removed wine, non-alcoholic beer, and zero-proof spirits and mixers.
For more information or for their regular operating hours visit lorensaf.com.