From ear infection remedy to booming business: New Albany mom talks The Elderberry Company

From ear infection remedy to booming business: New Albany mom talks The Elderberry Company
Jenny Watson told WAVE 3 News that she started making elderberry syrup a few years ago as a home remedy for her son's ear infections after nothing else seemed to work.
Jenny Watson told WAVE 3 News that she started making elderberry syrup a few years ago as a home remedy for her son's ear infections after nothing else seemed to work. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WAVE) - If you haven’t tried it, you’ve probably heard people talking about it, especially right now as folks cough and sneeze their way through the winter: elderberry syrup. Its natural immune-boosting power is believed to lessen the life of colds and flu and help allergies.

Elderberry syrup has become so popular, it's become a big business for a former stay-at-home mom in New Albany called The Elderberry Company.

Jenny Watson told WAVE 3 News that she started making elderberry syrup a few years ago as a home remedy for her son's ear infections after nothing else seemed to work.

"I was like, surely there is something I can do to help my child, to help him feel better," Watson said.

Watson combined a recipe with local honey to treat her son's cycle of colds and ear infections and it did the trick.

She shared her love for it on Facebook, and soon a very successful company was born.

She said first her friends tried it and bought it; she first sold it from her home in 2018 and later brought it to sell local farmers markets.

"It doesn’t feel like it’s real, especially with how much we’ve grown so fast in the last year,” she said. “The farmers market grew me so much that what I was seeing in sales, [but] I couldn’t handle that in my own home kitchen, and I couldn’t be a mom and business owner in the same kitchen. I needed to separate the two because my then-6-month-old is now 1-and-a-half and jumping into toilets if I don’t watch her. So, I cried, and I felt pressure and stress and I said, ‘I need to make a move.’”

Demand pushed her into a commercial kitchen at Mesa in New Albany, and then she was about to start selling her elderberry syrup online.

A few months ago, The Elderberry Company and its six employees opened its physical doors.

Now, Watson’s sales are skyrocketing.

She smiled as she reiterated what many people say when coming into the store.

"They'll say ‘Really?’" she laughed, "’All you do is elderberry syrup?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah!’”

The store also sells tea and make-at-home kits, too.

Watson explained of the product, "Elderberry grows everywhere, it grows wild."

Sourcing European elderberry from a co-op in Bulgaria, customers can see the hands-on process in 45-gallon pots through the glass of Watson’s store.

She said of the recipe, “It’s elderberry, Aronia berry, ginger, clove, cinnamon and then we sweeten with honey.”

Watson uses local raw honey from New Albany Honey, which is believed to help fight infection and sets The Elderberry Company apart from many big store brands.

She said she believes her success comes as more people are looking for natural alternatives to over-the-counter remedies.

"I was one of her house pickups when she first started," Megan Stump, one of Watson’s employees, said.

Stump said even though there's minimal medical research on elderberry syrup, many of their loyal buyers work in healthcare fields.

"We have a ton of nurses come in, a ton,” she said.

Watson's faith in the product and rave reviews on social media for cold and allergy relief make the real sell for her.

"I joke," she said, "I say, ‘I know it's not magic,’ but it feels magic because it cuts the duration of colds and flu."

What started as a few thousand dollars per month in sales is now six-figure sales for The Elderberry Company each month in the winter, although demand drops in the summer.

Check out Watson’s products here.

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