In recent years, the world has witnessed a surge in the popularity of non-alcoholic drinks and the emergence of the "sober curious" movement. With a growing awareness of the health risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption, more people are seeking alternatives to traditional alcoholic beverages. This trend has led to the creation of a wide range of non-alcoholic (N/A) drinks, including mocktails, zero-proof spirits, and alcohol-free beers and wines.
Gone are the days of sober bar-goers having to settle for water or soda. But a common pain point that many newly-sober drinkers have is being able to find bars, restaurants, and stores that offer non-alcoholic beverages.
Olivia and Sarah Sears know this problem all too well. Like many people, the married queer, lesbian-identifying couple reevaluated their individual relationships with alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic. But when bars and restaurants reopened, they not only had to do a lot of research to find venues that actually served N/A drinks, but they also experienced an unfamiliar feeling of anxiety. "When it came to going out sans alcohol, there was a new anxiety around ordering a drink, unsure what the reaction would be from the bartender when asking for something non-alcoholic, or unclear what the options even were," Olivia Sears, an advertising tech account manager and yoga instructor, says.
Whenever they'd plan a night out, Olivia would do extensive research to find places where the couple could order N/A drinks confidently. The duo often mused on how nice it would be to have a resource that aggregated establishments across the United States that sell and serve N/A beverages.
When they couldn't find a tool that provided that information, Sarah and Olivia decided to build one themselves. The result is BuzzCutt, a new mobile app that helps all people, and specifically sober and sober curious people, find bars, restaurants, and stores that serve non-alcoholic beverages.
The app, which enables users to locate N/A-friendly establishments on a nationwide map, will officially launch in June. But the brand has been growing awareness and community on social media since last October. They launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in the first quarter of 2023, raising more than $14,000 to support the initial app development stages. "The community that's been built is inspiring, engaging, and passionate about the power of an alcohol free or mindful drinking life," Sarah Sears says.
Sarah, an executive creative director and amateur boxer, has been instrumental in driving and executing the creative vision for BuzzCutt. The branding––which incorporates vibrant colors and bold iconography––is designed to inspire joy, optimism, playfulness, and confidence in choosing an alcohol-free lifestyle. "We want our users to experience a feeling of reassurance that the choice they're making is for them and that BuzzCutt has their back," Sarah Sears explains. "Our iconic yellow stands out in the crowd, instilling that choosing to not drink is a radical act and a bold choice in a culture where alcohol is centered in most experiences. BuzzCutt isn’t just an app, it’s a mindset."
It's a mindset that is being adopted by more people than ever. A recent study found that one in three Americans aim to drink less in 2023 and one in four Americans are aware of the sober curious movement.
"It’s clear that mindfulness, moderation, and 'dry culture' are here to stay and folks are challenging the decades of norms around drinking culture and partying," Olivia Sears says. "We’re honored, elated, and passionate about being part of this shift, introducing BuzzCutt as an access point for anyone looking to drink less or not at all."
As the team completes the launch phase of the app, they're seeking additional funding for further app development which will involve even more emphases on in-app community such as social networking components, knowledge and resource sharing, and news. They also plan to participate in more N/A events across the country, particularly focused on BuzzCutt pop-ups in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.
In the long term, the couple aims to give back to the LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and recovery communities, often which intersect, due to impacts of stressors from historical marginalization and generational trauma. "We are committed to donating a percentage of profits to organizations that provide support and access to recovery resources to communities that aren't often prioritized in recovery spaces," Olivia Sears says.