SPONSOR INTERVIEW: Byrne Offutt of Mountain Valley Spring Water
Have you noticed those green bottles of water everywhere you go in Los Angeles? That is the trademark of EPCF’s long-running sponsor, Mountain Valley Water LA (MVW LA). Mountain Valley is 100% natural spring water originating from a single spring in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, and bottled at the source under stringent quality-control procedures. The spring is nestled within pristine national forestlands and protected by the unique geological structure of the area. Mountain Valley will be offering water to EPCF guests at the Spring Fair – you can find them outside right next to the entrance.
We spoke to Byrne Offutt, the Director of Sales and Marketing for MVW LA, about his passion for spring water. It was Byrne who implemented the concept of local retail sales targeting health, wellness, coffee and chef-driven spots as a form of community engagement for the company. This strategic brand building earned Byrne the distinction of being the #1 salesperson in the country and afforded MVW LA the opportunity to build a retail department under his leadership. When not out on the streets selling water, Byrne can be found singing with this band, training for a marathon or enjoying a fine bourbon and cigar at his home in the hills of Echo Park.
Describe the path that led you to the work you do now. Did you take any big risks to get where you are?
After spending 15 years as a working actor I hit a plateau. It had become more and more frustrating that so much of my livelihood was out of my control. One evening while out to dinner with my wife, I noticed a bottle of Mountain Valley Water. In that moment, I had an epiphany “I can sell that water!” Growing up in Hot Springs, AR, water flows in my blood and seeing that bottle inspired me. I knew I could bring it to the masses in L.A. It was important to learn about the industry so I immersed myself in studying all things water and began an email campaign both to the spring headquarters as well as the local L.A. distributor. After untold outreach attempts, I finally scored a meeting with MVW LA. Believe it or not, Mountain Valley was mostly known for five gallon glass bottles and home delivery so it was a risky notion to convince my new boss the idea of investing in a retail department was a smart one. After multiple meetings/pitches, he finally gave me a shot and the rest is history.
How does practicing your art or craft impact your life or way of thinking?
This is such a great question because I look at what I do as a lifestyle. I have a passion for educating people on the importance of drinking spring water. Water is the most important thing for life. It makes up most of the earth and most of our bodies. When we explore other planets what are we looking for? Water. And yet here in America, we take it for granted. We turn on the faucet and it comes out. We go to the grocery store and there is an entire water aisle. Water is a precious thing that we should remain grateful for. And spring water from a deep, well-protected source is the absolute best thing you can do for your body.
How do you believe your craft has the power to influence the world outside of the artistic community? Is it important in our current moment of conflict and upheaval?
I am a big believer in supporting local business and artists. It’s healthy and it’s how the world worked for thousands of years. It was the start of civilization. Now we have the corporate machine, and there is corporate food but there is also corporate water. I like working for Mountain Valley Spring because we are one of the last privately owned springs left in America that’s distributed nationally. A smaller business cares more. The relationship it has with customers is more of a bond because it’s more intimate. When a business gets too large the customer becomes secondary to the profit margin and that’s when trouble starts. Mountain Valley Spring is a great company to work for because it takes its relationship with customers very seriously.
Are you inspired by the environment around you? How does the home/city/nature you live in affect your work?
I love Los Angeles. Trends are started here that are picked up worldwide. Today we have the opportunity to become the example of a new economy, one that is local, community based. Eating locally grown produce, drinking from a local spring, shopping locally; these are things that can simplify our lives so we embrace our community and become a support system for each other. Take a group of people committed to bettering themselves physically, spiritually, and mentally, and also committed to helping each other; and those people can change the world.
Why is it important to you to show and share your work to a larger community?
It is important to me to represent Mountain Valley Spring because I know the source. I know the history of our water. I know how we bottle it, the thousands of acres of forest it’s surrounded by. I know that you will feel better when you drink it. Growing up near the spring, I feel a kinship to the land it sits on. It’s a sacred spring and I want to make sure it’s taken care of and represented properly. I feel like what I do for a living helps people.
Want some free water? Call MVW LA at (562) 940-4466 to set up home or office delivery and receive two free five gallon bottles when you purchase two. Just mention the Echo Park Craft Fair. You can follow along with Mountain Valley L.A.’s & Byrne’s water adventures at @mtnvalleyla and @byrneoffutt.