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Watch: Meghan Markle calls upon Oprah to promote her new lattes
When embarking on a career as a private investor, it certainly helps to have friends in high places.
And the Duchess of Sussex went straight to the top yesterday, calling upon none other than Oprah Winfrey to promote her first financial deal with a brand - a “wellness latte” - to her 19 million Instagram followers.
The Duchess roped in Ms Winfrey, one of the most influential celebrities in the world, to endorse Clevr Blends, a small Californian company in which she has personally invested.
The move marks the launch of a burgeoning career for the Duchess, who plans to privately invest in a string of female-led start-up companies that are “in line with her values”.
Clevr Blends, which has just six employees, describes itself as a “woman-led, mission driven wellness company,” adding on its website: “We think you deserve to feel amazing, no matter how crazy life gets.”
The company started life in 2017 as a “funky pop up coffee bar” in which “adaptogenic lattes and mushrooms coffees” were sold from the back of a van that travelled the Californian coast.
Based in Montecito, the wealthy Californian enclave now home to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, it sells its four kinds of “instant superlatte blends” online for $28 a bag, or $2 a drink.
The Duchess, 39, contacted the company, run by co-founder Hannah Mendoza, after trying its oat-milk latte.
She said: "This investment is in support of a passionate female entrepreneur who prioritises building community alongside her business.
“I’m proud to invest in Hannah’s commitment to sourcing ethical ingredients and creating a product that I personally love and has a holistic approach to wellness. I believe in her and I believe in her company."
When the Sussexes stepped from their roles as working members of the Royal Family, they made an undertaking to “uphold the values” of the Queen in any future endeavors.
Watch: Will Meghan Markle be in the Crown?
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the new venture, but aides privately frowned upon the development, drawing attention to the pledge the couple made when making their bid for financial freedom.
The Duke’s cousins, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, earn their own money as non-working royals, but have had to tread a fine line when choosing which products to promote.
Mr Phillips was widely criticised earlier this year for flaunting his royal credentials in a Chinese milk advert.
While the Duchess did not directly promote the latte brand on social media, Ms Winfrey’s input appeared to have had the desired effect, as Clevr Blends quickly announced that due to high demand, orders may not arrive before Christmas.
In an Instagram video posted in the early hours of Monday morning, the talk show host, who attended the Sussexes’ wedding in 2018, filmed herself making her “new favourite” superlatte, using the brand’s own frother, which she declared was “delicious.”
She wrote on the post: “On the first day of Christmas my neighbor ‘M’ sent to me...a basket of deliciousness! (Yes that M ) My new drink of choice for the morning and night. Wish I had @clevrblends sooner cause I would’ve added it to my Favorite Things list. #HappyHolidays.”
By 4pm GMT, the post had been viewed almost 380,000 times. It was not marked as an advert, but as Ms Winfrey was not profiting personally, it is unlikely to break US rules.
Ms Winfrey, said to be worth $2.6bn, is also working alongside the Duke on a mental health series for Apple TV and has befriended the Duchess's mother, Doria Ragland.
The investment venture has been undertaken solely by the Duchess, the Telegraph understands, although she will continue to work alongside the Duke in developing their Archewell foundation and various other projects, including their lucrative deal to produce content for Netflix.
Clevr Blends has until now been self-funded but plans to use the Duchess’s investment, which has not been disclosed, to upscale and move into the international market.
Ms Mendoza said: “Entrepreneurs need funding, but they also need advisers who care deeply about what they are building. I’m grateful to have found both in the Duchess of Sussex.
"Her passion for what we're creating is palpable, and I couldn't imagine a more aligned partnership. We're excited for the road ahead."
Other employees include COO and co-founder Roger Coppola and senior creative director Hayley Covarrubias.
The company donates one per cent of profits to organisations fighting for food justice in the US.
A source close to the Duchess said she was motivated to help close the gap that has seen female entrepreneurs disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, typically receiving less than three percent of capital despite being 40 per cent of business owners.
What is a Superlatte?
Clevr Blends sells four flavours of instant superlatte; matcha, chai, golden superlatte and coffee.
The company says that when you add “healing adaptogens, a sprinkle of probiotics and a creamy plant-based milk” it creates a drink that will “make you feel amazing.”
Each has a “latte base” of oat milk, coconut cream and a selection of additional ingredients; ashwagandha, a medicinal herb, lion's mane mushroom, reishi mushroom, probiotics and monk fruit, a natural alternative to sugar.
All products come in powdered form, simply requiring hot or cold water before being shaken, blended or frothed.
Adaptogens are plants that help protect from the effects of stress, the company says, building long term, sustainable energy.
Clevr Blends says it is dedicated to “offering accessible wellness products that contribute to a healthier planet and a more just society.”