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Meet John and Joey Motta of RAWr! Life. in Deer Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to John and Joey Motta.

Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today. 
In 2012 we adopted our flagship superfoods product from our mom, she’s been a health and fitness professional for more than 35 years.

We ran with her formulation for 2 years to get going. It was our business still and product, but just her formulation in our bottles. Then in 2014 we fully launched our own product – RAWr! Superfoods – created with all USDA Certified Organic ingredients, and a little formulation change to fit more of our age and lifestyle. 

I’m (John Motta) a professional skateboarder and my brother Joey was a professional BMXer so we had our audiences from those communities to get this thing going. Since then with help from our friends in both worlds of BMX and Skateboarding we’ve grown by word of mouth and social media quite a bit.

We’ve seeped out of those markets and gained the trust of thousands of customers from other athletes, to parents, professionals in both blue and white-collar industries, the retired community, and many people with varying health issues. All have been grateful for what we’ve made available, with very positive feedback. 

Why would two kids in their early twenties decide to take one product and launch a national brand with multiple products though?

Well, aside from already having audiences from our skating and riding careers, and the head start with a great formula. The product played a role in our own health journeys.

In late 2009 I had my first manic episode that led to me being hospitalized and diagnosed bipolar.

I was released from the hospital on medications, and for several months to follow I went through a cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs. I felt so off, severely depressed and lost, and just knew the medications weren’t going to help me in the long run so with the help of doctors and many tests I was able to weaned off the medications while adopting a healthier diet, lifestyle, and adding appropriate supplements, our moms superfoods blend being the go to.

These superfoods, from their ease-of-use, were the foundation that kept me on track and to build upon. By summer 2010 I was medication free which I remains to this day. Using these superfoods as a daily habit helped constantly remind me to stay on track in a positive way, ultimately leading to a completely healthier lifestyle all around.

While I was healing, I was also researching products and specific superfoods to include in our product as well as stay clear of typical ingredients found in other blends that may not be healthy to most people. That’s how RAWr! Superfoods was born. I now know firsthand most people also benefit from our high-quality superior product.

During my journey my brother Joey was on his own path. Starting more than two years prior to mine. He was gardening and farming and it became a big part of his life, which naturally meant a healthier diet including these superfoods.

Joey is an established expert in the organic / biodynamic gardening community of Phoenix, Arizona. Through his work and volunteering in dozens of established farms all around Arizona his main passion for fruit trees grew and he became the youngest member of the Arizona Rare Fruit Growers Association and has grown over one hundred of his own fruit bearing trees. He’s probably the youngest person in Arizona to get an avocado tree to fruit too.

Trees need bees. Joey has embraced many organic beekeepers on his journey. As a result of this natural friendship we created our second product, RAWr! Raw Honey. Seasonally produced from wild flora or orchard blossoms throughout the desert southwest from hive to jar, never filtered.

His influence in our products runs deep – he’s the reason we sourced USDA Organic ingredients. Also, he didn’t like the fact that most superfood blends contain alfalfa as a main ingredient. Even though it may offer health benefits many of us have autoimmune issues in which alfalfa can cause further problems with. He wouldn’t settle for anything less, and this holds true for our third and fourth products, RAWr! Plant Protein and RAWr! Algae Oil. 

Has it been a smooth road? If not, can you talk us through some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
In a broad sense, yes. Very grateful for being able to even have a business. Being in the world of other business owners, you hear others stories along the way, and our seems to have gone quite smooth so far.

But it hasn’t been completely smooth.

July 2017, we hit our first “tipping point”. It started off from our product being incorporated into an episode of Thrasher’s “King of the Road” that was released through Viceland. They had me come up with some challenges for the show, featured me in it, and gave us the opportunity to plug our product. That came out mid-July.

That was also our 5th year in business, and August 8th was our Birthday. So, I finally decided to put myself out there and tell my real story of being bipolar and how our products helped me get healthier.

Up to that point we were kind of just selling the products with no story behind them. I made a video telling my story with the intention of putting some ad spend behind it on all our social accounts for our 5th birthday. I ended up posting it a week before our actual birthday thinking it would gain a little traction to look better being used as an ad.

Well, a little traction was wrong… it kind of blew up, in a good way, and got crazy traction. We had just had the King of the Road episode that brought in a spike in our traffic analytics. Then overlaying the spike from this video vs that tv traffic it was close to 4 times the amount. It was crazy to see.

The combination of both the TV episode and my story video grew our business 4X in our Birthday month of August.

The sudden growth, along with many other things ended up triggering my second manic episode. This episode was not as lengthy as the first but definitely just a severe for me in the delusional sense. It lasted a good 2 weeks.

Prior to that, the end of that June our bottling company had contacted us and told us they would be moving warehouses. Well, that major growth spirt had us contacting them for more product late August for them to come back to us telling us the move wasn’t going quite as planned and that they weren’t going to be able get us product.

The date of them getting us product kept getting pushed back week over week over week. It ended up being late November when we finally got more. So, for three months after our 4X growth all that momentum ended up going to nothing. 

I had moved out for my first time around that time as well. So, I was in a new apartment living alone, severely depressed from the come down of the manic episode. I was essentially not able to work because we didn’t have product, and no product for three months meant no income for three months, right after moving out for my first time. The whole situation was horrible for me, but I slowly got through it.

Once our bottling company was in their new warehouse, the new warehouse came with new rules. They had to double our order volumes. So, after 3 months of no income, still spending on operation cost thinking product would be to us “next week” then “next week”, we got drained pretty quick and then had to come up with ordering double the product amount as we were expecting. It was harsh. Took us about a year to get back to having a comfortable cash flow again.

On top of that my depression-phase of the bipolar after the manic episode lasted about six months from September ‘17 to March ’18, it was brutal. The business and I have made it through all that and things are slowly picking up again, it’s nice. And this is by no means a stab at our bottling company, this is just the reality of what happens in life, our story, they’ve been amazing to us over the years! 

Aside from that set back, our biggest challenge is balancing the whole inventory ordering process along side having cash flow or being “liquid”, I think it’s called lol. In other words, it’s great to have a ton of product on hand, but the more physical product we have sitting there means there’s less actual money to use now in the bank account, cuz it’s sitting there in the form of product instead of cash. It’s a concept that’s really hard to actually understand until you’re living it.

Same with getting good payment terms for new products. We’ve never got any loans or had any investors. We never even had a business credit card until this year, coming up on our 8th year in business. So, working with new companies was hard cuz they’d go to look up our credit and find nothing. That’s been getting handled now that we have a credit card, and credit though, it should be easier to get better terms. I just never liked the idea of being in any kind of debt to make a business work, or being told what to do from an investor, so I never put us in that position. That mindset has got us this far with steady growth year over year, but who knows maybe one day I’ll change my mind.

Can you tell us about your business / organization? What should we know? What are you most proud of as a brand?
We’re still staying strong with the BMX and skateboarding community and making the idea of eating healthier in those community’s way more of a norm. Focusing more on getting people started eating healthier with the help of our products. Making them feel okay to take care of themselves. Helping them let go of the idea that partying all the time and eating fast food is the cool thing to do.

We’ve been in business coming up on our 8th year and only recently have I really been hearing what my customers have been saying this whole time. How our products are getting them started, making it easy to eat better, an easy starting point helping them change their lifestyles. Giving them a reason to make smoothies every morning, then building from there.

I used to be selective of what my customers were saying to me, listening to benefit keywords like “energy”, “stomach problems”, “immunity”, “recovery”, things like that, but I wasn’t listening to what they were actually saying. How our products and brand has helped them change their whole lifestyle, giving them a different outlook, and an easy foundation to build healthier eating from.

That’s our focus now, to get more people started taking care of themselves sooner than later. Shining more light on what our products and brand have actually been doing all along. Letting that form other’s stories of how we helped them, pushing those stories, then letting the quality of our products take over and speak for themselves for everyone else just discovering what we offer. 

I’m proud of that whole idea, proud to receive all the heartfelt personal messages from people telling me how what we’ve created has made a huge positive change in their lives.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Really telling our story, and other people stories of how we’ve helped them.

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