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Post-breakup with Emily Maynard, Jef Holm is (almost) all business

By Théoden Janes
tjanes@charlotteobserver.com

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To most people, bottled water is just bottled water.

Except when the company behind that bottled water has a public face as handsome as Jef Holm’s. That’s Jef Holm, co-founder of Utah-based People Water. Or, if you’re into that kind of thing, Jef Holm, winner of Charlotte single mom Emily Maynard’s heart on ABC’s “The Bachelorette” in July.

Holm and Maynard are no longer, but the newly free man is still making headlines in Charlotte: On Thursday, he greeted fans at the grand opening of The Baby Grocery Store on Park Road, which this week became the first retailer in North Carolina to carry People Water.

“They were doing tours before they opened, and they said, ‘Oh, we have People Water,’ and I thought, “Whatever,’ ” said Jennifer Percival, a young mom toting her 14-month-old daughter Eden. Then the big-time “Bachelorette” fan was reminded of Holm’s involvement.

“I said, ‘ Oh my God, really?’ So I had to get some, and then they said he was going to be here and I thought, ‘Of course I’m going to come.’”

The store at 10225 Park Road is owned by Darren Gann of Charlotte and billed as “a Whole Foods for babies,” with shelves full of organic baby foods and eco-friendly kid products.

People Water fit right in, since its concept revolves around the pledge that for every bottle purchased, the company will donate an equal amount of clean water, mainly by supporting the creation of wells in developing countries.

Surprisingly, not everyone was there simply to swoon over the swoop-haired entrepreneur. Gina Rowan of Greensboro came to deliver a letter from a group of 200 people (led by Kim Hannigan of Irmo, S.C.) who raised $26,000 that will help build six wells in Ghana and Ethiopia.

“It’s an honor to meet him, because he did inspire us,” Rowan said. “It was just a good message – you don’t think about people that don’t have clean drinking water.”

Of course, most of the people who turned out were “Bachelorette” fans first, and most “Bachelorette” fans are just looking for “Bachelorette” dirt. So here goes:

“I met an amazing girl, and we fell hard for each other,” Holm said of being on the show. “It didn’t work out, and of course it’s hard, but I look at it as a positive thing. I learned so much about myself, that I’m so capable of loving someone.”

Holm, 28, said he hopes he and Maynard will stay friends, and that he still lives part time in SouthPark. He keeps a residence in Utah, and travels to participate in well-building projects.

And although he’s a bachelor again, he has no interest in starring on “The Bachelor,” and – sorry, ladies – no interest in playing the field for the moment.

“I get thousands of emails and Twitter and Instagram requests to just hang out or meet or do all these things,” Holm said. “But I’m not dating. I’m not even interested in dating anyone right now. I’m just taking time for myself and going through the rebuilding process and focusing on business.

“I have so much fun, traveling around, opening up different distribution channels and doing different well projects all over the world. So I’m having a blast, and working hard, and doing something that’s making a big impact on people’s lives.”

Janes: 704-358-5897
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