Melanie Wade, founder and owner of Golda Kombucha

Atlanta | Georgia
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Who are you and what is your background?

Melanie Wade, I have a background in communications, PR, and marketing.

I graduated from Georgia State with a degree in Public Relations, a minor in Printmaking and a certification in Event Management. I worked in the agency world at Brand Ware PR as an Account Executive where I represented international motorsports and automotive brands. 

I also worked as an Account Executive with a home and luxury design PR agency called Kleber and Associates. Before my Account Executive position with Kleber and Associates, I was the Marketing Assistant at Yelp Atlanta as well as Jr.

Account Coordinator with Birds of a Feather PR. I like to think that my education and experience encompasses what I do best: communication and creativity. 

Your current job:

Founder and sole proprietor of Cultured South, LLC and Golda Kombucha. Being a business owner means you do a little bit of everything. I’m not only the delivery driver but also the accountant, marketing department, and sales director.

In which city:

Atlanta, Georgia

How did you discover kombucha?

My 96-year-old grandmother Golda, for whom our brand is named, has been making kombucha for over 40 years. I grew up drinking her “weird mushroom tea” (as we kids affectionately called it), and as an adult, my passion for fermentation grew out of this family recipe, as did Golda as a business.

What prompted you to start your company?

My background is in corporate marketing. Though I enjoyed my job before launching Golda, I was disappointed in the lack of passion that I felt toward my career path. 

Fermentation and family have always been two of the most important things in my life, and in 2013 I decided to take the leap create a business centered around them. I also firmly believe in the short- and long-term health benefits that come from kombucha and other fermented products, and wanted to share my knowledge in a way that could help other people. We were the first kombucha brewery to open in the state of Georgia, and I wanted to introduce people in the southeast region to kombucha who didn’t otherwise know about its power and benefits.

What makes your product unique?

Ours is unlike many other kombuchas on the market. Golda is an oak-aged kombucha, which means that most of the fermentation process takes place in barrels. During this time, we add fresh fruit and herbs, which cut down that traditional vinegar flavor of the acetic acid.

Likewise, the only sugars in our final product (about 3 grams per 8 ounces) come only from the simple sugars extracted from the fruit that we age our product with. We make a light, refreshing, sparkling kombucha that carries the same amount of unpasteurized, raw, culture, as well as a ton of vitamins C and B12.

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What do you want to convey through your brand image?

First and foremost, we want to convey that we are a southern company. I was born and raised in Atlanta, and I love this city. That’s why you’ll find the stamp “Brewed in Atlanta” on every bottle and growler we sell. 

Our brand and business also would be nothing without my family, which is why I chose to name the company after my grandmother, Golda, and put her story on our bottles. We also strive to promote health and wellness to every demographic, especially those that might not already be familiar with kombucha or fermentation. 

We’re active members of a number of different communities in Atlanta, and volunteer, pour and teach at events ranging from yoga festivals to local rotary clubs and middle schools.

What are the main challenges in your company?

Keeping up with demand has been the biggest challenge for us (not that I’m complaining!). This business has grown so exponentially over the last three years that it was a struggle for a long time to grow the staff and production space at the same rate. Thankfully, we seem to have overcome that hurdle for the moment and are in the process of tripling our production space into a new facility.

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

This seems like an obvious answer, but I wouldn’t survive without Quickbooks from Intuit. We also utilize a wholesale portal hosted by Squarespace on our website through which accounts can order directly. That saves a lot of time and run around.

A word to define what type of worker you are:

Determined.

What does your office space look like?

It’s filled with tanks, barrels, and jars of fermentation in the process! Our production space is the most important, so our current office space is very small. 

However, as we expand into our new brewing facility this year, the office area will come.

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

I am very lucky to have an organized and diligent staff. My mornings normally begin a conversation with our brand manager, Amanda, followed by the same with our head brewer, Tyler. Every day brings a new adventure and challenge, but between the three of us, we coordinate logistics in the most effective way possible.

What tips would you give to improve productivity?

Hire staff that you work well with and trust, and in turn don’t be afraid to delegate to them. As the sole proprietor of Golda, I had to learn that I couldn’t do everything. 

Having employees that are hard-working, passionate, and foster a copasetic work environment has been invaluable to the success of my business. Remember to be kind to one another always, and enjoy the rare moments of downtime.

What is the best advice you have been given?

Go big or go home

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

Early-day, iron out daily and weekly logistics over coffee. End-of-day is normally an exit discussion of the same, but hopefully with a kombucha cocktail in-hand.

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

I love my Apple watch! It’s convenient to have an alert when a call or text comes in, and at the end of the day, I can see evidence of the hard work I’ve put into my business through the activity monitor.

upcoming products or projects?

We are currently under construction on a new brewery space in Atlanta’s West End as part of a large development project called Lee and White. Our taproom and full bar program right off of Atlanta’s beltline will pour all 6-9 flavors of kombucha that we make, kombucha cocktails, kombucha-gelato floats and other fun products.

goldakombucha.com | instagram.com/goldakombucha | twitter.com/GoldaKombucha