Story By Caitlin Paroczai
There is no doubt that the social norm in Western Australia is to drink. When I posted the blog I Just Don’t Want to Drink a few months ago, I was inundated with support from people who are simply tired of feeling the pressure. It opened the door to many rewarding conversations. A common theme that emerged was that there aren’t really any ‘cool’ non-alcoholic options for non-drinkers.
Shortly after posting my blog, the stars aligned, and I stumbled across the absolute #bossbabe Sian Reed from Club Soda. With the hashtag #substancewithoutsubstances, Club Soda aims to provide quality alcohol free options at events for those seeking a substance-free night, weekend, or life.
I am so passionate about this topic that I reached out to Sian for an interview, so we can celebrate the amazing work she is doing with Club Soda for the #sober Perth community.
Let’s dive right in, Sian. Who are you? What makes you tick?
I was born in Perth. After finishing school, I worked in admin for a bit, then realised I really wanted to go to uni. I started uni at age 23 where I enrolled in Psychology. That was the beginning of something really exciting for me! I fell in love with research and study and academia. I had a strong interest in addictions so learned as much as I could about that, which led me to the path of Club Soda.
Amazing! What about a quirky fact about yourself that not a lot of people know?
I am so terrified of birds! Especially pelicans. Super scared.
Can you tell us about your amazing start-up, Club Soda?
Club Soda’s mission is to give people delicious alcohol-free alternatives at social events. Stuff people will actually want to drink, not because there are no other options, but because they taste freakin’ awesome.
Was there a particular moment that sparked your inspiration for Club Soda?
I cut down my drinking about 2 years ago and just got sick of going out to bars and clubs and only getting soft drinks, fruit juice and water. Also, I was getting the sass from bartenders when I ordered non-alcoholic drinks at bars. When I was also working as a drug and alcohol counsellor I noticed it was an issue for people in recovery as well. This lack of decent drinks at venues that made them feel included with their friends. No-one was doing anything to change it, so I thought I would.
You are an absolute boss babe. But what would you say has been your biggest achievement in relation to Club Soda so far?
I recently finished the Ignition Program at Curtin Business School (an amazing program which I would recommend for anyone thinking about establishing their own start-up) and achieved a perfect score for my pitch. This was a massive achievement and has filled me with the confidence to grow Club Soda to the next stage. I was also selected as a finalist for Macquarie Bank’s Kick Starter Program which commences next week. These achievements all highlight to me that Club Soda is being recognised as a necessary part of the social environment which fills me with so much excitement for the future.
What is your favourite non-alcoholic drink option that Club Soda provides?
Mmm, it’s hard to choose just one. I love the uNN Indian Pale Ale we sell. When I was drinking alcohol, beer was a favourite of mine. The uNN IPA has a delicious summery taste about it that reminds me of beach days.
Where would you like to see Club Soda in 5 years’ time?
I see Club Soda being a well-known brand name for quality non-alcoholic drinks, and most importantly, being an organisation that has created an inclusive and accepting environment for non-drinkers. I hope it can shift the social norms around Australia’s drinking culture.
Ultimately, I hope to expand throughout Australia with pop-up stalls and also having an online store running successfully.
Finally, why do you think there is such a stigma towards non-drinkers in Australia?
I spend a lot of time thinking about this question. I think perhaps sobriety is no longer the social norm, instead, drinking is seen as the socially acceptable norm. So, when people deviate when the social norm (and become sober), they are often seen as an outsider. This stigma is something I directly want to challenge and change with Club Soda in order to create a more inclusive and accepting environment for all.
You can learn more about Club Soda by following its socials: