Who are you and what is your background?
My name is Eva Sippl and my country of origin is Germany. I moved to the States in 1998 after I received my license as a Naturopath (in Germany). I mention this because many of my kombucha flavors are inspired by traditional German herbal remedies.
Your current job:
Founder and owner of Herbucha, LLC
In which city:
Where does your interest in Kombucha come from?
I was a teenager the first time I came in contact with kombucha. A friend of my mother brought us a culture and told us to put it in tea and see what happens. I fell instantly in love with the beverage. The flavor, the fizz, the process, simply everything.
What prompted you to start your company?
I was dissatisfied with the jobs I had. I wanted to make more of a difference in my life and with what I do. And while I had the love for kombucha and the skills, I was not enough of a go-getter to just start my own company. But then I was laid off in 2008 like so many other people. That's when I thought, "well, it's either now or never" - and I jumped.
What makes your product unique?
We use herbal teas to promote specific health benefits of kombucha. For example, our Detox blend is made with organic, fair-trade Gunpowder green tea and with organic Nettle leaf, Dandelion root, and Elder flower. Dandelion root is a natural diuretic and a great source of potassium, Elder flowers are a strong blood cleanser, and Nettle leaf enhances the excretion of toxins through the kidneys.
What do you want to convey through your brand image? Design: how was it designed? By who?
High-quality ingredients and standards are important. This is not limited to the product itself but also how the company is run. You vote with your money in today's world. We only source our ingredients and packaging material from companies we want to support because their standards reflect ours. We also are a 1% for the Planet member. Which means 1% of our annual sales (not profits) get donated to our non-profit partners, Oregon Environmental Council, Rozalia Project, Oceans Initiative, and Big Life Foundation. I don't want to go into a whole lecture about the dire straits our planet is in here but we're in this together and have to do everything we can to turn our ship around.
What are the main challenges in your company?
Competition has become quite intense in Portland. I think we have somewhere between 10-15 breweries now in town, not to mention other brands outside of Portland. It does expose more customers to the drink and so the customer base is growing but you have to be on top of your game, that's for sure.
What tools are essential for your work(app, software)?
Anything processing liquids! Commercial water boiler, brewing vessels, dishwasher,...
A word to define what type of worker you are:
What does your office space look like?
You can find anything here from packaging materials to catalogs and books. And a big print of Mt. Hood hanging on the wall. In case it's time to take a breather.
Do you have a way to organize your days to optimize your work?
I try to plan my days to minimize driving. Running errands on the way between deliveries for example. And I'm always watching us work while we produce, trying to find ways to make the production line more efficient.
What tips would you give to improve productivity?
Try to think outside the box. Maybe the way you have your production set up is the most efficient way but maybe you just haven't been able to see a more beneficial setup. Checking out other companies is helpful there of course.
What is the best advice you have been given?
Never ever assume to know what your future holds. And when you feel like quitting, remind yourself why you started.
Can you give us a tour of your local Kombucha scene?
Buckle down, it'll be a long tour! As I have mentioned before, we have a lot of local brewers here. And each one of us brings in their own take on the brew. So there is a lot of variety and something for everybody's taste buds!
How do you control the growth of your company?
Careful choices and I have been known to be a bit too careful at times. But don't just sign up for some major contract you then cannot fulfill. Or end up in serious debt in order to be able to fulfill it. Just because a big account places an order with you doesn't mean they will reorder.
What is your strategy for making your kombucha known? (tastings, festival, etc.) Why this strategy?
Festivals and tastings are great. But my favorite is farmers markets. Our farmer's markets in Portland are some of the best in the country and I am able to establish not only connections with local customers and chefs but also get to meet many out-of-towners. This way I get a lot of post-market business through my web sites.
What are your end-of-day and early-day routine?
Mornings: COFFEE. I cannot stress this enough. I am unable to have a conversation before my cup of coffee in the morning. Kombucha is more of a second breakfast kinda thing.
End of day: I journal. I try to write down at least 5 events that happened during the day I am proud of and 5 I am grateful for.
1What advice would you give someone who wants to start a Kombucha company?
If you are in a location where kombucha is not so known yet, prepare yourself to do a lot of education. Not just the customers also your local authorities like the health department for example.
Apart from your computer and your phone, what gadget cannot you do without?
Stereo in the kitchen. We love to listen to music while we work or sometimes podcasts.
Upcoming products or projects?
I just recently came out with my new product, kombucha candy. The gummy bear version of kombucha. They are vegan, so delicious and still have the beneficial probiotics too because we never heat them above 110° during the process.