Vanessa Hudgens has 40.9 million followers on Instagram alone.

Over 40 million people follow her for her advice, likes and updates on her life.

“I just do what I want. I do what I want and do what I like, and you know my interests are constantly evolving as am I,” shares Vanessa. “I think that how I live my life reflects that I’m kind of always on the move, but I think that I know my priorities and my fundamentals as a human being and everything else just kind of falls into place.”

Vanessa is, as some would call it, the ultimate influencer. From fashion to food and everything in between, she’s the first person to go to for what’s on trend. Actress, advisor, activist and now entrepreneur, the star has always focused on one thing: using her influence to make the world a better place.

Courtesy of Caliwater

“Don’t be afraid to be different,” she continues. “I think that it’s really easy to conform – and less scary [to do so] – but we’re all made differently, our interests are all different, the way we approach life is different, and I think the more that you can embrace your individuality and your weirdness and the things that make you you, the easier it is for you to succeed in life in general.”

Her close friend and business partner, Oliver (Oli) Trevena, has been more than willing to help her achieve just that. Oliver, who has 152K followers on Instagram, is a connector. The man knows everyone, and is able to bring people together to encourage social activism and make plans happen. The successful entrepreneur/investor is also an actor – his movie Rising Hawk is streaming now.

How did the two meet? Where all great friendships are made: Lance Bass’ house.

“One day we met at Lance Bass’ house,” explains Oliver. “That’s it really. And yeah, we connected there and then you know, a couple of times after that [the friendship] just clicked. [We] got closer because life happens … with the struggles. I think real friendships grow stronger [through struggles] and that was it for me. She’s seen me through everything.”

“Boyfriends come and go but Oli’s been there,” chimes in Vanessa.

From their friendship and their shared love of earth-friendly activism, their venture Caliwater was born.

“I think those best moments in life happen [when there is no] kind of game plan or you know, thinking about it. It just happened and then we worked our asses off,” says Oliver.

Photo by Randall Slavin

It all started with a prickly pear margarita.

“I was in New Mexico and I was on a road trip and I am such a margarita aficionado,” Vanessa laughs. “This prickly pear margarita came out and I remember just seeing the color and being like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s beautiful (A) and then it tastes phenomenal (B).’ Then I was like, ‘I gotta do some research on this.’ I looked it up and realized they’ve been using prickly pear for centuries for all of its health benefits.”

“I’m a sucker for a good life hack… and I also don’t drink water. My friends are always like, ‘Vanessa, you gotta drink water’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t like it though.’ I’m so happy because now I have something that I actually love and is hydrating for me which is the most important thing,” she continues.

Photo by Randall Slavin

Cactus-made Caliwater is good for more than just hydration.

“Immunity, antioxidants, it’s obviously great for hydration, low sugar, low calories,” lists Oliver.

“Antiviral properties, lowering blood sugar levels, it’s just kind of a miracle worker,” follows Vanessa.

“Yeah, it’s kind of one of those things that the world is aware of, but it hasn’t gone mainstream. Kind of like coconut, you know the same way coconut water had this massive resurgence,” says Oliver. “When you talk to people in Latin America and [other warm climate countries], they [use it frequently], like you know: ‘Someone’s got a tummy ache, give him some prickly pear.’ I think just the mainstream hasn’t clicked, so that’s where I feel like there’s a real gap in the market for this.”

The health benefits are many, but it’s not just a tasty drought-friendly drink that’s great for staying hydrated. It’s also a perfect mixer, and a healthy alternative beverage to water for those that are picky.

“It’s a great mixer,” affirms Oliver. “I mean, that’s the idea behind this drink. But we’ve found [out from] investor friends, [that] their kids have been drinking this and they love it. We’ve got everyone from a 5-year-old that loves it to a 60-year-old that loves it and then people that don’t drink or do drink. The idea of this company was providing something that really can be drunk by everyone.”

A labor of love, Caliwater isn’t just a sustainable company influencing better health, it’s also actively involved in bettering the lives of children. Five cents of every can of Caliwater sold goes to No Kid Hungry, a charity working to help feed hungry kids. With millions of children experiencing food insecurity due to the effects of the pandemic, Caliwater’s support of ending childhood hunger is more important now than ever.

Getty Images / Vivien Best

“They make sure that kids are fed. At school, they will make sure they get breakfast, lunch and send them home with dinner if they need it. Kids shouldn’t have to worry about how to get through the next meal, so they just make it happen,” explains Vanessa. “I love that.”

Vanessa and Oliver recently hosted the Caliwater launch party at Mojave Moon Ranch in Joshua Tree, the #CaliwaterEscape. Following all COVID restrictions and safety regulations, the launch brought together some of the biggest media influencers to not only spread awareness about the health benefits of cactus and Caliwater, but to raise awareness about No Kid Hungry’s mission.

The event combined Vanessa’s classic Coachella style and major influence with Oliver’s innate ability to connect people and make dreams happen. For Vanessa, Oliver introducing her to Caliwater and letting her take the reins has been a dream.

“I think the fact is, at the end of the day, if you’re passionate about something you figure out how to manage your time and Caliwater is something that I’ve been so invested in and so excited about,” she shares. “You know for me it’s fun, like I love being crafty, I love trying new things. If I’m into it, I’m going to make it happen.”

“And it’s authentic,” Oliver agrees. “I mean, we both genuinely like it. Even if this was another company, and I tried this drink, I can genuinely say that I’d be buying it and drinking it.”

For these influencers, health is a top priority: their own health, the health of their followers, the health of their communities, and the health of the planet.

“I see Vanessa influencing everyone to be a good person,” ends Oliver. “She inspires me all the time, she always shows up for people, always there for people.”

Learn more about Caliwater’s cactus water with a conscious mission, where it is available, its founders and their upcoming ventures by listening to the L.A. Weekly weekly podcast on Spotify, Cumulus Los Angeles or wherever you get your podcasts and visit Follow on Instagram @caliwater

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