I went from being a hard-partying kitchen grunt to meditating, yoga-doing kombucha company owner - and it all started because someone told me kombucha was a great hangover cure! I home-brewed for years before a chef I was working under told me she thought I was onto something and encouraged me to leave to start my own business. Because of my party past, it took a lot of people by surprise but not me and not the people who believed in me. Don't ever believe someone else's evaluation of your abilities. Only you know what you're truly capable of.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business?
How did the idea for your business come about?
As I mentioned, I had been homebrewing for a few years and always knew I wanted to start my own business but wasn't quite sure what I wanted it to be. I was bringing in kombucha and sharing it with my co-workers but the head chef never wanted to try it. It turns out she grew up drinking the stuff her mom brewed in the 70s/80s so she had some lingering distaste for it. I finally got her to try it and it was her conversion and encouragement that led me to take the first steps toward starting my business.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Regulations! There's still a lot of gray area in kombucha but at least we have a trade organization now. When I started KBI (Kombucha Brewer's International) was still very new but to be able to call them when I was having issues with a safety inspector or a tough client was critical.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
Right now I'm reading Lilith's Brood by Octavia Butler & Powerful by Patty McCord. One book that was helpful early on was Branding is Sex - about how to build your brand, figure out your key customer, & stick to your voice.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
My family and friends have always been extremely supportive and I will be forever in their debt. In hindsight though I would never have (and never will) hire within my social circle, or friend's social circle's ever again.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
A strong support network of people I can go to for advice, introductions, or even just a hug sometimes.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
I wish I had known more about distribution, trade spending, & margins!
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Don't undervalue your product's worth in order to be competitive with a larger brand.