When Chloe Van Dyke concocted her first batch of chia seed drinks three years ago, the target market was her sports-mad family.

But her nutrient-rich beverage soon sprouted interest among athletes, café-goers and health-conscious consumers, and the 31 year old is now selling more than 20,000 bottles a month.

With demand growing both here and abroad, Chloe's younger sister Florence is leaving a promising career in corporate law at Bell Gully to join the CHIA team in Nelson.

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Chloe says the idea behind CHIA was to create an endurance drink for Florence, a top age-group triathlete, and her father Ben, who holds numerous national swimming records.

"I wanted to make something with a high nutrient value for sustained energy and wellbeing. But we've realised the product is for anyone that needs a nutritional boost in their day-to-day life."

After studying neuroscience from 2003 to 2007, Chloe decided she didn't want to be stuck in a lab. She started experimenting with fermented kombucha recipes, before focusing her efforts on perfecting a chia seed drink.

Chloe is great at coming up with the creative ideas but I love to tick off the to-do list and make things happen, which is probably reflective of my time in corporate law.


"When I brought out CHIA I didn't know if people would love it or hate it because the consistency is just so different," she says.

"The first café I ever tried to get into, the owner gave me this big talk about how terrible the texture was. I think I cried, but now I get people emailing me every week telling me how much they love it."

After trialing CHIA in Nelson, Chloe took the drink to Wellington where it was embraced by the café scene.

Her three flavours of CHIA are Blueberry, Orange & Passionfruit, and Blackcurrant, all with a hydrated chia seed base - are now sold in more than 400 stores nationwide, including a few hundred cafes and about 70 supermarkets.

Sisters Florence and Chloe Van Dyke are preparing to take their CHIA drink global.
Sisters Florence and Chloe Van Dyke are preparing to take their CHIA drink global.

The product is typically priced at $5 in cafés.

"I don't pay myself a lot," Chloe says laughing. "But there's a reasonable amount going back into the business to support growth."

That growth is seeing CHIA popping up in stores overseas. She recently started exporting "small amounts" to Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.

To scale up production, Chloe and father/business partner Ben have bought $150,000 worth of custom-designed equipment, moved into a new warehouse, and recently hired their first full-time employee.

And 26-year-old Florence will be a valuable addition to the team when she moves down from Auckland in January.

"I'm going to start out on building the customer relations side of things, and pushing the exports."

Florence, who was New Zealand 20-24yr Triathlon Champion in 2011 and placed 5th at the World's a year later, is an official CHIA team athlete, alongside Coast to Coast winners Richard and Elena Ussher.

"I've competed at a high level in sport, and drinking CHIA has been helpful because it's so high in nutritional content," she says.

Chloe says her goal for the next 12 months is to become better established in New Zealand, develop new flavours, and grow CHIA's export markets, with a possible move into China.

So, what are the chances of younger brother Hugo also joining the business at a later date?

"He's a lawyer as well - I don't know if I need two sibling lawyers on the team! That could be dangerous," Chloe says laughing.

"His thumb print is on the label, so that's his first contribution to the CHIA team."