In 2004 I was honeymooning in Phi Phi Island in Thailand and it was there that I first starting drinking coconut water. With coconut trees adorning our island, these young green coconuts were plucked fresh, cut open and a straw placed inside — and this is how I drank at least five coconuts a day. Drinking coconut water I felt an immediate difference in my well being: I felt energised, hydrated, healthy and balanced, and my general fatigue and blurred eyes all seemed to disappear.
A few years later back in London I discovered packaged coconut juice drinks. Having tried many of the ‘market leaders’, I found the taste unpalatable, the nutritional claims not matching the product, and the product sometimes deceptively including bleach, extra sugar, fructose or flavouring. I thought I could do a lot better than this. That was my starting point.
I’m a filmmaker by trade and have no retail experience whatsoever. Everyone must have thought I was somewhat mad when I went back to Thailand in 2011 having raised the seed capital necessary to fund the business. I drove around looking everywhere for the perfect coconuts for our own coconut juice drink.
Finally, in a region known for having some of the sweetest coconuts in Thailand, I met the owner of what was to become our coconut plantation for Chi.
I’ve tested Chi coconut water against some of the leading coconut juice drinks on the market. I went to yoga schools and held blind taste tests. Our coconut water won in every single taste test. If you ask me, it’s the sweetness of our coconuts.
We then set about designing our brand. It seemed all our competitors had the word ‘coco’ in the name and the same stock image of a green coconut on the front. We wanted to break the mould with our name and our packaging. “Chi” means “life force” — which seemed the perfect way to describe our product.
Our coconut water, which is 100% pure, with no added sugar, no added preservatives and no chemicals, also deserved premium packaging unlike any other on the market. We commissioned a very special “chi island” illustration for the package which is symbolic of balance, hydration and provenance.