For many start-up journeys, it all begins with a leap of faith into the unknown…but perhaps none were so dramatic as with Lou, Founder of Twisted Kombucha, who knew her old life was no longer making her happy. Taking that blind faith in her kombucha, she’s established a successful entrepreneurial endeavour: we chatted about the challenges, excitement, and pride that comes with beginning out on a new start-up journey.
So what’s the story behind Twisted Kombucha?
It had been on my to-do list for a while, as I’d always wanted my own business, but I kept putting it off as I was working incredibly hard as a nutritionist on the NHS. I was learning and advising people on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, while my own health was failing due to the high-demand and high-stress of the job. In the end, I decided to follow my heart, going back to do a MSc in Food Science. One of the areas we studied was microbiology, and as I’d already been brewing my own kombucha for a number of years, I decided to test my own product. I was able to do my dissertation on mu own kombucha, doing the same testing process and validation done by a food company, to identify the probiotic elements within it. It’s a great back-story for the brand, and I think people love the fact you can see that genuine passion I’ve poured into every bottle.
What was your ‘eureka’ moment when you knew you had a great product?
I think, as the months went on, and every test I was doing kept assuring me that the kombucha I was creating was good for you, as the social aspect of the drink’s role in an increasingly tee-total society became apparent, and as people tried and loved it…everything fell into place, and so Twisted Kombucha was born!
How was making the decision to change your career?
I knew that in the healthcare environment, the stress I had was damaging to own health; I was binge eating, depressed, and needed a change to kick-start my happiness again. Certainly, the decision to jump-ship and change my career in my 40s was daunting, but I think it was absolutely the right thing to do, even if it did take a lot of bravery. I couldn’t be happier now, and really, that’s the most important thing for me.
Where did the name Twisted Kombucha come from?
The idea of Twisted Kombucha came to me as other names which were appealing and had some meaning to me tended to be taken — everything to do with holistic, or raw, or live, was already established. That’s when I had to start thinking out of the box — and as Kombucha is tea with a twist, the name was born. Now I love the name as it sets us apart, and intrigues people who haven’t heard of us before.
Have you faced many challenges as you’re becoming more established?
Kombucha is a difficult product to scale up, as the process of creation is so long (3–4 weeks), whereas the actual brewing initially can be done in a day. Hiring a large kitchen, then, becomes a far more complicated process. People are also hesitant to have a co-working arrangement due to the yeast element of the fermentation process. It’s a challenge I’m working to find a solution to!
There’s also the issue of the fact kombucha is live, so needs to be refrigerated below 5 degrees to stop it from over-fermenting, a process which a lot of distributors don’t have the means to handle as they need a shelf-stable product. Most kombucha bottles in shops aren’t actually live anymore, so they’ve lost that probiotic element, and the organic acids which are beneficial to your health along with it. I don’t ever want to have to compromise that, and so it’s going to be an exciting challenge to face and find a solution to soon.
What’s something you’re most proud of when it comes to your journey setting up Twisted Kombucha?
I actually just graduated, and got a distinction on my kombucha masters, and then the following week got my first sale in a shop in Shoreditch. I think having those two big moments together really just showed me I’m on the right path, and the future will be bright and twisted!
Thank you for talking to us! If you want to read more about, or have a taste of, Twisted Kombucha, check out their Instagram here, or get in contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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