Hannah Mendoza knew that December would be a big month for her startup. To get ready, the cofounder and CEO of Clevr Blends, a four-person company that makes instant oat-milk lattes, upgraded to a bigger production facility, hired four people to her fulfillment staff, and warned her ingredient suppliers they might be seeing higher demand soon.
But nothing could truly prepare Mendoza and the Clevr team for what it would be like when Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, invested in their company.
“We knew this was going to be a big moment for us, but we didn’t predict it was going to be as big as it was,” says Mendoza in one of her first interviews since Fortune reported the duchess’s investment late last year. “We were on a really strong growth trajectory, especially for a bootstrapped brand, and it really put fuel on the fire.”
Clevr, which sells $28 bags of coffee, chai, matcha, and turmeric-flavored powdered instant lattes, had been steadily serving a customer base of wellness fans eager to replace a traditional caffeine boost with adaptogen-infused beverages. After the duchess’s investment, the brand suddenly began reaching new audiences, like “schoolteachers, shift workers, and busy moms” who learned about the product via Meghan. The company had to adjust its usually speedy next-day shipping to a temporary monthlong waitlist.
The business is now in a unique position. The company has one of the most powerful—but quiet—brand ambassadors in the world. Meghan isn’t supporting…