Who are you and what is your background?
Originally from Australia and trained as a civil engineer, I’ve always been passionate about healthy living. When my brother and his wife started Remedy back home in Australia, I always wanted to get involved but living in Canada with my wife and kids, though it was a pipedream! After witnessing the amazing love that Remedy has generated in Australia, I decided to launch Remedy here too. Canada is similar to Australia in terms of lifestyle, health, fitness…and Remedy is perfect for people looking for a healthy, naturally no sugar kombucha.
Your current job:
Director of Remedy Drinks Canada. It’s an exciting start-up environment that’s supported by my family and the Remedy team back in Australia.
In which city:
We’re currently based in Oakville, Ontario. My wife grew up in the GTA and Toronto is such a dynamic city, it was the perfect choice for launching Remedy in Canada.
Where does your interest in Kombucha come from?
My brother and sister-in-law, Emmet and Sarah Condon, started Remedy on their kitchen counter in Australia. Their kids were into it, their mates were hooked and family members were dropping by more often for a taste. Emmet and Sarah wanted to do something good. Shake things up. Make it right. They know that healthy can also be tasty and easy. They believe we all deserve to know that too and that includes Canada! While they’ve moved on from the kitchen bench, Remedy is still made the old-school way: in small batches, long-aged brewed for 30 days.
What prompted you to start your company?
We love kombucha and have developed a traditional ferment that naturally brews out all the sugar – creating a tasty drink that is super healthy. With the rise in awareness of the harm that sugar has on your health, we know that Canadians are keen to kick the sugar habit – with Remedy they can do that without feeling like they are missing out. Also, I want to be able to drink Remedy every day and this was the only way to do it – flying back to Australia isn’t a viable long-term solution for my Remedy addiction!
What makes your product unique?
Our drinks are made the old-school way: in small batches using a long-aged brewing process. The result is the tastiest, healthiest range of fizzy drinks going around. We’ve expanded beyond kombucha to include other traditional drinks including Remedy Switchel and Remedy Coconut Water Kefir. All have no sugar naturally and are chock-full of live cultures. The beauty of Remedy is that although sugar goes into the initial brew, it gets eaten up by the live cultures during fermentation to maximize those amazing organic acids. Remedy brews out ALL of the sugar, and we test every batch to make sure. This is why we are the only brand to have the official tick of approval from Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar. Remedy Kombucha is suitable for everyone, we’re 100% certified organic, vegan, gluten-free, fructose-free, paleo friendly and HALAL certified.
What do you want to convey through your brand image? Design: how was it designed? By who?
Remedy’s Senior Graphic Designer Alistair McLean is the design genius behind our branding. Originally inspired by traditional wax stamps, the branding reflects the authentic, artisanal nature of Remedy with the small leaves within the logo representing the organic tea our kombucha is brewed from. We went for a crafted, artisanal look but aimed to keep the branding clean and minimal, injecting a bit of fun and punchiness through on-pack illustrations to explain how our kombucha is made. We use strong, impactful colors to ensure stand out on the shelf and differentiate between flavors (there are a few!)
What are the main challenges in your company?
While kombucha is a relatively new beverage in Australia, it’s a mature market in Canada and so launching the brand in a new market and communicating our points of difference will be the key to our success. Remedy Drinks is growing really quickly and we have a strong focus on new product development so making sure new products and new flavors are communicated clearly is another opportunity for us to differentiate ourselves.
What tools are essential for your work (app, software)?
Just the usual – email and Excel.
A word to define what type of worker you are:
What does your office space look like?
There are a lot of kombucha bottles around! Our team is growing quickly so our office is always busy with people in and out all day.
Do you have a way to organize your days to optimize your work?
I try not to obsessively go through emails and aim to schedule meetings rather than have random discussions so I can be as efficient as possible.
What tips would you give to improve productivity?
Always keep the big picture in mind with every decision and everything else follows naturally.
What is the best advice you have been given?
Don’t get caught up in the little things – keep it simple.
Can you give us a tour of your local Kombucha scene?
The kombucha scene in Australia is relatively young in comparison with Canada and the US. Remedy is the market leader in Australia but new brands are entering the market with large multinational companies realizing the potential of the category. In Canada, there are a few large US brands and some prominent Canadian kombucha brands currently on shelves (along with a variety of localized kombucha producers). The category is big but still growing and Remedy is really filling in the gap here with our naturally no sugar offerings.
How do you control the growth of your company?
As a result of our strong position in the Australian market, the company is growing quickly to meet demand. We focus on product development in terms of new flavours and different types of fermented drinks such as Remedy Switchel and Remedy Coconut Water Kefir to encourage people to make the switch to healthy, tasty fizzy drinks. There really is a Remedy drink for everyone and every occasion – we’re all about giving people healthy options. Following our success in Australia, Remedy now exports to the US, UK, Canada, Singapore and New Zealand with new territories opening up all the time. For us, it’s about meeting demand and listening to our fans and customers to ensure we continue to innovate and offer healthy, tasty drinks in flavours and formats that work for them wherever they may be. We’re confident we have the right systems and processes in place to ensure Remedy can continue to grow and offer healthy, tasty drinks wherever you live whether that’s Fiji or Canada!
What is your strategy for making your beer known? (tastings, festival, etc.) Why this strategy?
We follow a strategy of awareness, trial and purchase so that means we sample a lot. As a category, kombucha is relatively well known in Canada so it’s less about educating the market and more about building brand awareness around Remedy. Sampling is a key part of our strategy and in Australia we use our sampling teams of ‘Remedy Roadies’ and ‘Remedy Vans’ who turn up to events, train stations, universities and offices to offer people Remedy product to trial. Once people have a chat with our Remedy Roadies about the health benefits of our fermented drinks and try one, they’re usually hooked! We are also extremely active on Instagram – we offer competitions to win product and actively reach out to fans of our products. In Australia these fans extend to elite athletes who are looking to sub out traditional soft drinks for something healthier. In Canada, we’ll be popping up at plenty of Canadian food events as well as sampling out and about so Canadians get an opportunity to try our drinks. We’re also using social media to connect with kombucha fans here in Canada.
What are your end-of-day and early-day routine?
I start early with a good strong coffee and go through emails to get myself sorted. I usually finish the day with a run and a kombucha!
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a Kombucha company?
Do your market research and identify your niche. Your brand needs to have a clear point of difference to cut through and be successful.
Apart from your computer and your phone, what gadget cannot you do without?
Not a gadget, but probably a good book.
Upcoming products or projects?
We’re working hard on establishing Remedy Kombucha in Canada and in time we expect to see our other fermented drinks including Remedy Switchel (an apple cider vinegar and ginger fermented drink), and Remedy Coconut Water Kefir (coconut water fermented drink) take off as well. We also have a range of new products slated for release later this year, so we’ll keep you posted!