Just as people associate Gatorade with sports, Recess‘s Founder and CEO Ben Witte is on a mission to have consumers associate the CBD-infused sparkling beverage with creativity.

Ben Witte“Recess consumers are makers: fashion designers, musicians, entrepreneurs, and journalists,” Witte told ForceBrands exclusively. “Recess is the brand that people will gravitate toward when they want to make something and get into a state of creative flow.”

Read on to explore how newcomer Recess is disrupting the beverage space; what inspired Witte to launch it; and more.

ForceBrands: Tell us a bit about Recess – what inspired you to launch this functional beverage?
Ben Witte: I started Recess to solve my own problem. I’ve been a bit wired, anxious, and stressed my entire life. I began to experiment with CBD (hemp extract) and adaptogens last year to see if it would help me calm down and focus. When I began using them regularly, I felt more balanced and, as a result, more productive, creative, and happier.

I concluded a few things from that experience:

• Consuming CBD through oils, gummies, or tinctures wasn’t ideal for daily life, and there was a massive opportunity to bring CBD and adaptogens to new product formats — primarily functional beverages and supplements.

• There was an opportunity to create a wellness company focused on creating products and experiences to help people feel balanced so they can be their most productive, creative, and fulfilled selves. We named the company Recess to emphasize the importance of taking a few moments throughout our day to reset and rebalance.

• Cannabis is an explosive space with many new brands emerging each month. With the growth of this ‘budding’ industry, there are also a lot of misconceptions and unknowns. How are you educating consumers about the health benefits about CBD?

We go into some depth about CBD and its benefits on our website. We like to talk to consumers directly at events.

FB: Who is your target audience and how are you marketing to them?
BW: Recess is for anyone who wants to feel more balanced, calm, and focused in an increasingly stressful world, giving them the opportunity to be their most creative, productive, and fulfilled selves. Our audience cares about what they put in their body, appreciates the object they’re holding, and seeks out thoughtful companies. Recess consumers are makers: fashion designers, musicians, entrepreneurs, and journalists. Just as consumers associate Gatorade with sports and green juice with yoga, Recess is the brand that people will gravitate toward when they want to make something and get into a state of creative flow.

FB: What has been the biggest challenge building and launching Recess?
BW: The biggest challenge has been scaling manufacturing and operations to keep up with demand.

FB: At ForceBrands, we build the teams that build the brands. How have you approached team building and sourcing talent to fill those key roles?
BW: I think my biggest strength as a CPG/beverage company founder is that I don’t come from the industry and so I can think a bit outside the box. That said, I have complemented my inexperience with an extremely strong and experienced operations and sales team. On the marketing and e-commerce side of the business, I have purposely recruited people who do not come from beverage so that we can bring a fresh perspective and approach to what we do.

FB: With the name ‘Recess,’ we have to ask about team culture. What sets the Recess team apart?
BW: I think of Recess as a design company. We are designing flavors, feelings, experiences, content, art, etc.

It’s important that everyone involved in Recess has amazing taste, is a multi-disciplinary thinker, and believes strongly in our mission.

FB: What excites you most about the coming months ahead? Can you share any big plans or upcoming new innovations/partnerships/events?
BW: We just began our New York City rollout which will really accelerate in the new year.

Learn more about Witte and how he likes to Start It Sunday here.