Scott Lowe & Rio Miura: Finding a niche in the Bay

There is a common saying that you are a product of your environment. For Scott Lowe and Rio Miura, founders of Metromint, an all-natural mineral water with mint flavors, their environment — the Bay Area — was essential to the success of their product.

“We had an unusual bottle design and a new product that really didn’t have a niche yet,” said Lowe, who met Miura in her native Japan while on business; they married several years later. “We needed consumers that were willing to take a risk with us, and there was just an explosion of interest in the Bay Area. I’m really not sure if we could have launched this product in any other area with so much success. It just seems like California is ahead of the curve with so many of these new creations.”

Although there is certainly no shortage in mineral water products, Metromint has been successful (400 percent annual growth since the business was launched in 2005) because of a unique combination of filtered water from the Sierra Nevada and mint leaves from Yakima Valley, Wash.

Miura, who began designing original jewelry as a teenager, came up with the idea for Metromint upon realizing the absence of such a product in America.

“I’m always looking for something that is new to the States,” Miura said. “I have these instincts that just kind of pop up. I’m always working on my next idea, for something that hasn’t been seen yet, and that was pretty much the idea for Metromint.”

Miura acts as the creative spark for Metromint, running and designing everything from the shape of the bottle to marketing and public relation campaigns, while Lowe handles the business aspects of the company.

Metromint, which now comes in four flavors — orangemint, spearmint, lemonmint and its flagship flavor peppermint — came after Lowe and Miura received positive feedback on their initial enterprise into the beverage industry with David Rio Chai Tea, which was launched in San Francisco in 1996. The two continue to work with their original endeavor alongside Metromint and their own distribution imprint, Soma Beverage Co.

“It’s great because I think we both realize we’re not in the business with the intent of selling things, we’re in it to provide a service,” Lowe said. “We just want to continue to build upon what we’ve got going, and Rio is constantly coming up with new, innovative ideas, so I’m sure we’re going to have plenty of projects to invest in for the future.”

SCOTT LOWE

BUSINESS

New project: House demolition and remodel

Last project: Organic Tessa Thai Tea

Number of e-mails a day: About 100 legitimate.

Number of voice mails a day: Half a dozen

Essential Web site: sfgiants.com

Best perk: An endless supply of the best beverages in town.

Gadgets: Push pens.

Education: B.A.

First job: Selling bundles of wheat, door to door.

Original aspiration: Major League Baseball player

Career objective: Building the most innovative beverage company in the country.

PERSONAL

Details: 39 years old.

Quirk: I can’t stand folding laundry.

Hometown: Billings, Mont.

Sports/hobbies: Fishing, reading, brainstorming business concepts with Rio.

Transportation: I love to walk when possible.

Favorite restaurants: El Tonayense, Lulu, Ti Couz, Ali Babba’s Cave.

Computer: Dell

Vacation spot: Camp Tuffit, Lake Mary Ronan, Mont.

Favorite clothier: Banana Republic

Role Model: Kurtis Quilling Lowe (brother)

Reading: “Lance Armstrong’s War”

Worst fear:Missed opportunities

Motivation: The whole family

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