MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee-based alkaline water company, not even a year old, has already teamed up, partnering with an Olympic gold medal-winning track star.
BKlear started as a project between a man and his children. The goal was to promote health in his family and in the community. In just a few months, the start-up water company now has its biggest co-sign yet.
From the aluminum bottles to the contents of the bottles itself, everything surrounding a portion of BKlear water has a meaning: Family. Wellness. Milwaukee.
“We wanted it to have some sort of effect on not just our physical health, but also our psyche,” said Mahdi Muhammad, founder of BKlear.
Muhammad, a nurse by trade, shifted his focus in September. He started BKlear to help Milwaukee, and in turn, the world.
The alkaline water was chosen for health benefits, such as lowering blood sugar and increased hydration. He uses aluminum cans to reduce plastic use and litter and to provide value to those who are collecting cans for extra money.
“I want this to be a household brand. I want it to replace some of the longstanding ones that do little for our community and our health,” Muhammad said.
In just seven months, BKlear has shipped out to more than a dozen states. Over 20,000 bottles have been distributed. The most surprising development in year one has the Milwaukee-based company Olympic bound.
English Gardner, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist in track and field, will be sponsored by BKlear as she works her way back to the Toyko games this summer. She joined after feeling lost in the shuffle by other brands with major athlete sponsorships.
“I was really discouraged because I had reached out to major hydration companies like Gatorade and Body Armour and I got denied,” Gardner said.
Discouraged, but not defeated.
Gardner, with advice from her wife, posted online hoping to have a Black-owned hydration company as a partner moving forward.
“I told her, ‘I want to be sponsored by a Black-owned hydration company,’ So I’ll put on my Instagram to see what happens,” Gardner said.
Muhammad replied, offering to collaborate.
“Next thing you know, I got a message back from her saying ‘Let’s do this,’” he recalled.
Muhammad also cites his children, many of whom take great pride in ownership. He recalls doing a neighborhood cleanup with his son and realizing why it was important to consider eco-friendly containers.
“To see people littering, I think that has to do something to a small child’s psyche to look around see trash and not wonder if it’s normal,” Muhammad said.
His greatest hope is seeing what he started with his family be the link, bringing people from all backgrounds together.
“If by any chance I could have some polar opposites come together over water, and it came from Milwaukee. To me that would mean a lot,” he said.
Muhammad says he’s always working on sponsored BKlear apparel for Gardner when she goes to Tokyo for the Olympics in 100 days.