Yogurt springs from Manhattan's Upper East Side
A former investment banker for JP Morgan is selling a line of probiotic yogurts on the East Coast. Hamilton S. Colwell, 32, is the founder and president of Maia Yogurt.
Maia is the Greek goddess of Spring and rebirth. She is "our favorite goddess. She represents so much of what is beautiful, growing and protective in life," a spokesman told Dairy Foods.
Current flavors are vanilla bean, strawberry, blueberry, and plain. Pomegranate-cherry and pineapple will be added this month. Each cup includes 25 billion probiotics from five families, according to company material.
Colwell said he started the business because he was "underwhelmed by the health-conscious diet options for his pregnant cousin," according to a company press release. He made the first batches in his Upper East Side Manhattan apartment in 2008. Colwell worked with Cornell’s School of Agriculture and Life Sciences and experts in Denmark to perfect his formula.
Today, Maia uses co-packers to produce the yogurt in 6-ounce cups. A 2-pound container is in the works.
Initial customers were New York City health food stores and local markets. Independent grocer Stew Leonard’s now carries the yogurts, selling as many as 15,000 cups a month, according to Maia. Stew Leonard's has three locations in Connecticut (Danbury, Newington and Norwalk) and one in Yonkers, N.Y.
Maia Yogurt is focusing its marketing efforts on social media interaction and trade marketing. "We spend every weekend in grocery stores demo'ing Maia to really get to know our customers; nothing beats their constant smiles and feedback," Rachel Unger, a Sales and Marketing Associate, told Dairy Foods.
Maia says the formula is 100% natural, gluten-free, low-sugar and low-calorie. The yogurt includes four essential B-Vitamins, 350-400milligrams of calcium, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 570 milligrams of potassium and 10-12 grams of protein.