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Beverages From Fusing Luxury Goods and Art

An Interview with Noah Wunsch, Founder of Ruby

— March 27, 2021 — Business
Ruby is a brand of organic, zero sugar fair-trade hibiscus water started by Noah Wunsch. The new drink is a refreshing option that sits between the description of functional water and plant water. It is the first Hibiscus-only Hibiscus water and delivers great health and taste components. It made its inaugural pop culture debut in HBO's Eurphoria in a scene featuring Zendaya. To showcase the wonders of the drink, Ruby commissioned Sharmilla Banerjee, an artist based in Berlin to create visuals of the 'Rubyverse.'

Prior to Ruby, Noah Wunsch has previous experience working as the Global Head of eCommerce at Sotheby's and was an executive at The Paris Review. We got a chance to chat with Noah about Ruby, the inspirations behind the brand, and his take on what changes are to be expected in the coming years.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career path thus far?
I'm a born and raised New York City kid. Professionally I've been a little all over: media (The Paris Review), start up tech (Verst acq. Dropbox), the art and luxury world (Sotheby's) and now CPG with Ruby! I'd say all of those different cultural strains have really informed the vision for Ruby and The Rubyverse.

What is Ruby? How did the idea come into fruition?
Ruby is a line of organic hibiscus water. I fell in love with hibiscus as a way to curb my sugar cravings. Though the main flavor profile is tart, there is the slightest hint of natural sweetness. I started researching the various strains and then began researching the beverage market and realized that there wasn't a water alternative on the market with 0 sugar, 0 calories, 0 additives that didn't compromise on flavor (and benefits).

How did Ruby transpire from the world of fashion and art? Can you tell us a bit about how the two worlds come together as a powerful duo of inspiration?
We put a great deal of thought, care and love into the brand side of Ruby, and when the full brand architecture came together we felt like it was a bummer that we couldn't share all of the different weird little cultural knick knacks that inspired the brand, whether the works of Ken Price, or Factory Records, or old school fashion week invites from Dries van Noten or Margiela... so we decided to let people in. To open the curtain and share all of the weird things that are inspiring the brand. This is how the Rubyverse came to life, especially with our weekly DISPATCHES that are non-brand marketing, but show what's being shared around Ruby HQ.

Due to COVID-19, were there any challenges in launching a brand new product? Were there any pivots?
A ton of challenges! First of all our copacker is in Chicago, so we had to drive (multiple times) from NYC to Chicago during the pandemic. We pivoted our launch from end of August to March 2021. Then there was the time I actually got COVID one month before launch... Yeah it hasn't been easy, but it's been an adventure to say the least.

Can you tell us about Rubyverse? What were some of the ideas behind the visuals created by Sharmilla Banerjee for it?
The literal form of The Rubyverse came to life when we found the illustrator Sharmila Banerjee, who does all of our illustrations. Her work was the perfect amount of zany and heartfelt. We just started riffing on what type of universe could produce this "perfect" beverage. It has to be a place full of goodness. And then a strange sci-fi narrative actually began to manifest, with the Rubyverse fighting the evils of sugar. Clearly we've been cooped up too long...

With your expertise, what direction is the luxury goods industry headed towards in the next 5-10 years?
I think we're going to go back to artisanship and makers. Bode is an amazing example of this, as is JW Anderson and how he's staying true to the heritage nature of Loewe. Digital is fascinating, and I'm confident avatar-life will become more dominant, and invested in, but NFTs are all hype as they exist now, mainly because we can't foresee how they will exist in ten years with new tech --> they will become a leader of culture once tech catches up.

What do you anticipate for Ruby in the next few years?

Image Credit: Ruby