Dr. Kombu Brewing Co & Sòlas Kombucha

New Ross | Nova Scotia
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Photos are of owners (one photo) L-R Gabrielle Pope, Clare Rivard, Dominic Rivard

Photos are of owners (one photo) L-R Gabrielle Pope, Clare Rivard, Dominic Rivard

Who are you and what is your background?

Our team is composed of three owners: Dominic Rivard, Clare Rivard, and Gabrielle Pope, and our Sales Manager Tracy Butcher

Your current job: 

The owners wear all the hats (production, accounting, marketing, sales, events, etc...) and Tracy Butcher handles Nova Scotia sales and social media marketing.

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In which city: 

Our kombucha brewery is located in rural New Ross, Nova Scotia, however, we sell in other areas of the province. Our Sales Manager is based in Halifax.

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How did you discover kombucha?

 Gabrielle learned how to make kombucha from a friend at university in Vancouver BC when she was 20. She's now been making it for 15 years. Gabrielle introduced Dominic and Clare to kombucha while they were working together at a winery/cider and since all three of us have extensive experience in brewing, fermenting, and the beverage industry--it was a no-brainer when we all realized how much we love kombucha. We recruited Tracy and she, in turn, recruited us when she realized how much she loved our product! Tracy has a strong background in sales and communications.

Owner Gabrielle Pope and Sales Manager Tracy Butcher

Owner Gabrielle Pope and Sales Manager Tracy Butcher

What prompted you to start your company? 

We had a desire for a change from the alcoholic beverage industry, we're passionate about kombucha and recognized the opportunities in our province, where the trend is still very young.

What makes your product unique? 

Our brewery is on a fruit farm in a beautiful rural area, where we can work with fruits and herbs grown right here to develop our flavors. Our experience in wine and cider has given us many skills transferable to kombucha, and we brew in a style where our processes and the resulting perfect palate are primary goals. 

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What do you want to convey through your brand image?

Nova Scotia is a province that celebrates all things local, and we are passionate about that. We use as many Nova Scotia products as possible, buy organic fair-trade sugar from a local coffee chain, participate in or donate to many local events, and aim for a kombucha that is not only healthy, but complex, delicious, consistent, and high quality. It is also important to us to keep our prices reasonable for all of the province's demographics.

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What are the main challenges in your company?

There is still much to be seen in the development of kombucha science and best practices for brewing. There is always going to be a mysterious aspect to kombucha brewing, which is also what makes it so special. We are currently working with a local university's food science department to address some of those unknowns. 

Sales Manager Tracy Butcher

Sales Manager Tracy Butcher

What tools are essential for your work (app, software)?

We use Zoho CRM and Slack for apps. The most important production tools for us are high-quality durable brewery equipment and skilled operators, and of course the highest-quality sugar, tea, and fruit etc... for flavoring.

A word to define what type of worker you are:

We are up for any and all challenges, passionate, positive, and optimistic. We're all used to and up for long hours when needed.

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What does your office space look like?

Our office is on the top floor of our brewery. The building is a restored barn that has been renovated into a food-grade certified establishment. The office (not the brewery, of course) is often populated an animal companion--we have three dogs on the property.

Do you have a way to organize your days to optimize your work?

Due to the unpredictable nature of a new small business, we tend to stay flexible with the future and organize our schedules on a weekly basis. This will likely become more standardized in the future, but with such a small staff suits us greatly for now. Our involvement in many events, as well as markets, keeps the schedule actively changing.

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What tips would you give to improve productivity?

Finding the best tools for communication is and always will be paramount. 

What is the best advice you have been given?

Any problem can be solved or interpreted to become not a problem, but an inspiration for change.

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What are your end-of-day and early-day routine?

All of us enjoy walks, cycling, and actively ensuring we can start the day fresh and end relaxed. 

Apart from your computer and your phone, what gadget cannot you do without?

All of our brewery equipment, and anything that sets reminders and schedules.

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upcoming products or projects?

We are developing a Jun tea that we hope will be commercially available in early 2018. We also have 4-5 new kombucha flavors planned for release in the next year.

solaskombucha.ca | drkombu.ca

FB: @solaskombucha and @drinkdrkombu

Twitter: @solaskombucha and @dr_kombu