Our names are: Zani Gugelmann and Francesca Fortique.
Our stomping ground is: Tribeca, NYC.
We’re known for being: Co-founders of Llama Mama.
I'm talking about: Our Peruvian prebiotic antioxidant soda.
You can find it at: llamamamaworld.com—delivers to all of the US! And at specialty stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn, including The Well, Upstate Stock and many more.
Before we launched this, we were:
Zani Gugelmann: I was a jewelry designer for over 20 years, selling my products at Bergdorfs, Barneys and Moda Operandi.
Francesca Fortique: I worked, and continue to work, as a nutritionist and dietitian for people with hormonal imbalances and autoimmune conditions, as well as with kids on the autism spectrum.
Our interest was sparked when:
ZG: As someone with managed epilepsy, I’m constantly in search of ways to improve my health. And after speaking with Francesca, a family friend who happened to be a nutritionist specializing in autoimmune conditions, I learned about the relationship between what we eat, our gut and our overall health. Our conversations led us to explore Peruvian superfoods as a means to improve gut health. After experiencing the health benefits first hand, Francesca and I wanted to share it with the world.
What inspired me to start this was:
FF: Zani thought that a beverage would be an easy product to integrate into peoples’ lives. As Latin women, we liked the idea of incorporating our heritage into a better-for-you soda with Peruvian prebiotic and antioxidant ingredients. We felt it would be a fun, delicious and easy way to support the immune system and gut health. We thought, what better way to share our knowledge of health and nutrition with the world than with a delicious prebiotic soda?
The idea behind it is:
ZG: We created a product that supports gut health and the immune system using Peruvian superfoods. Our idea is to support your health while also supporting local Peruvian farmers (from whom we source our main ingredients) and to support Latin female communities in any way we can.
What makes it different is:
FF: What makes our beverage different is that we use organic only and Peruvian ingredients, functional amounts of ingredients, we don’t add sugar or sweeteners with aftertaste like stevia or monk fruit and we have 200% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C.
Our secret ingredient is:
ZG: It’s actually two! We use Yacón—a prebiotic fiber which we also use as our sweetener—and Camu Camu—a berry with high vitamin C content as well as other antioxidants.
My favorite lesser-known detail is:
FF: A big part of creating Llama Mama was creating a delicious beverage that had no sugar, no stevia and no monk fruit. How did we manage? Luckily, one of our star ingredients is also used as a sweetener, and not only that, it is a sweetener with a glycemic index of one. Meaning it doesn’t really affect your blood sugar levels. You get the delicious sweetness without the guilt.
This connects you to the earth because:
ZG: Our ingredients come straight from Mother Earth, hence the “Mama” in Llama Mama. We use locally sourced organic Peruvian superfoods that also follow fair trade.
A relationship with nature is so important because:
FF: All we have comes from the earth and, nowadays, we take more than what we give back. And we are living with the consequences of how this affects our planet. Llama Mama won’t change this, but if we all were more mindful about creating products that can give back to the health of our earth, as well as to our health, we could all live healthier and more sustainable lives.