18-Year-Old Eva Duckler is Founder and CEO of Tree Fort Soda


Sometimes, it can be hard to hear a kid utter this phrase: "My whole life.... "

Kid! What life? You're barely knee high to a bug.

But then, when they're smart and creative and together enough to have started their own successful company when most other people their age are bopping down the street with the earbuds and the saggy pants and the long hair, oblivious to the cold, cruel world that likes ahead, well, you've got no choice but to perk up and listen.

Eva Duckler had been in search of the perfect root beer for her entire, entire life. But in 18 years on the planet, she couldn't find just the right one. You can guess what she did next.

See also: New Digs (With Brewery!) for Verdant Tea Shop and Sample Room

Granted, she had a few things working in her favor -- at Blake, her class was tasked with taking some time off to do a senior project, whatever it is that they wanted to do. Some kids went to internships, some tested the waters of starving artistdom, but Duckler knew this was her big chance. Soda. And with her brother and sister-in-law David and Lily Duckler being the founders of Verdant Tea, she had plenty of access to the raw materials, namely herbs, that she would need in order to tinker, plus the facilities.


"I kind of feel funny talking about it, like I'm some kind of wine snob," she answers, when I ask what it was she was after in the perfect soda. But what do you do? Kids these days are discerning, and while growing up, she and her brother David would do exactly what an oenophile might do in search of fine wine -- collect them, line them up, and conduct tastings. "We would sit down and collect all our thoughts to find the world's best soda."

Aside from her own, she likes local Joia for their "brilliant flavors" and U.K. brand Fentiman's.

So, with access to herbs -- sasparilla of course, but also cinnamon, chicory, marigold, ginger, anise, and clove, she steeped and she sweetened and she carbonated.

"During my research I found out what was in Coke and Pepsi -- it's kind of horrible, kind of rough stuff, and it doesn't feel good to drink them either."

She was in search of creamy, sweet, but not too sweet, and all natural.

Several months and 70 or so batches later, bang! Awesome soda. She started offering it at Verdant to favorable customer feedback. Then a distributor came calling, and the rest is, you know.

She had been planning all year to attend Wellesley College, but passing up the chance to grab life by the balls did not get her this far.

The opportunity to grow her business -- she's now working on three other flavors, ginger ale, cola, and orange -- was just too great. She's taking the year off from college to work at the company and she hopes to see distribution statewide inside of a year. She attends to every aspect of the business by herself, including creating every batch and bottling every bottle. It's a six-day-a-week effort.

How can she be sure she'll want to go if she continues to see great success?

"I'm pretty sure I want to go to school. It will be hard, but I'll find someone who can take care of my baby."

Babies having babies has never looked this good.

Treefort Soda is currently available at Verdant Tea, Kowalski's, Seward Co-op, Linden Hills Co-op, East Lake Brewery, and Agra Culture at the M.I.A.

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