This week, BOMANI Cold Buzz launched in Whole Foods across New York City. This is a special one for us.

Throw it back to August 2017. Me, Kai, and Clay moved in to our apartment and spent the weekend moving during the days and exploring the city into the late hours of the night. Once we were finally settled in to our new apartment, we realized that we really didn’t know the city at all. We were strangers to the biggest city in this country, and we were loving meeting new people every week – that’s how we met Amin!

But something was missing. As corny as it sounds, we honestly felt a little lost. That is, until a few days after move-in when we texted E.

E, formally known as Edris, is my cousin who’s a few years older than I am. If you don’t recognize E from his signature slicked back hair, 5 o’clock shadow, and flashy Jordans, you’ll recognize him for his raspy voice – only a jet engine could match the decibel count when E opens his mouth. And trust me – he uses that voice to his advantage, claiming to himself, “I sound like Batman.” He walked around his neighborhood high-fiving everyone from the club owners to the local bodega cashiers. As competitive as they come, E fully embraces his slogan of “No L’s,” and he dominated his local pool bars and came second place only to myself in cornhole. (That’s a joke – just want to get under his skin when he reads this).

E welcomed us with open arms. As our friends Matt, Louie, and Sam (different Sam) moved to NY, E welcomed them into his crew as well. Sarcastically referring to us as his “goons,” E treated us like we were his little brothers. He made fun of us, put us to work, and led the charge on many nights out. But more importantly than all of that was our favorite tradition at E’s: Family Dinner. Every Sunday, we would head over to the Whole Foods in Bryant Park, go shopping, and then E would cook up a ridiculously creative and delicious feast.

So here’s the thing – I may have left a critical detail out of that Whole Foods experience. E would bring us to Whole Foods (he was a regular), mandate that we sit at the bar with him, and then recap the whole weekend together over a few drinks. We were there so often that the bartenders knew us well enough that they would join in on the weekly recaps of our latest adventures, laughing until tears were streaming down our faces. Whether it was Louie losing a basketball game to 15 year olds, Becker eating too much spicy Indian food, one of Clay’s crazy 3am plans, or any of our other escapades, we were never short on comic relief.

As he started to get hungry, E put us to work – it was time to shop.
“Sam and Amin – go get jalapenos. You got the wrong peppers last time, but thankfully I figured it out.”
“Matt, you take Kai and go grab the chicken”
“Clay, follow me, we are going to grab whatever I find”

We would get back to E’s where we’d continue joking about all that we occurred in our lives since Friday. After our massive meal, we’d all head back to our apartments, full and happy.

Family dinner was always deeper than good food and good drinks. It was more than joking around with your best friends, too. There was something about those Sunday nights that had a grounding effect; a sense of reassurance that you weren’t alone in the city – on the contrary, you were surrounded by incredible people who had your back no matter what.

Family dinners continued week after week, never getting old. Even after Presentation Day, even as we were formulating BOMANI and building our pitch deck, we would all make time to get to E’s on Sunday. Doesn’t matter if you spent the day at Sidebar watching football, went to brunch or a day bar with friends, or just caught up on work – we knew we could count on one another to meet up at the Whole Foods Bryant Park in the afternoon. In fact, even when it came time to design the BOMANI can, we walked the aisles of Whole Foods in New York, starting with store on Bowery & Houston and working our way uptown. It was during these trips that we noticed the beverage aisles were flooded with brightly-colored cans whose labels were crowded with a collection of words, phrases, and slogans. It was at that point that Amin had the idea to go against the grain: to create a can that was black, bold, and beautifully simple.

Going to Whole Foods Bryant Park now and seeing BOMANI was literally a jaw-dropping experience. I couldn’t believe the aisles I had walked countless times with my best friends was carrying the product that we founded together, and that we worked on so many times in E’s apartment. As I stood, staring in awe of the black 4-pack with the gold wasp, a woman who didn’t even notice me picked it up on the shelf, turned it to the side with the nutrition label, and put it in her basket, carrying on along the way. I know this sounds crazy, but I teared up. Although Family Dinner in NYC was retired when E moved to San Diego a few months back, I found solace in realizing BOMANI had truly become a part of this store that meant so much to us.