Who are you and what is your background?
I’m Jack Lewis. My background in kombucha is that of an enthusiastic home brewer and health conscious person.
Your current job:
I started as a brewery hand and I’m now sales manager at Kombucha Me.
In which city:
Where does your interest in Kombucha come from?
I’ve been training and competing in martial arts and exercising for years, always concerned with my own health. In learning about the importance of the microbiome and such I got into fermented drinks and foods. I got into home brewing after drinking store bought stuff for a while and loved it.
What prompted you to start your company?
I didn’t start the company but I found it when I needed a new job and had loved working with kombucha so much in my home. Kombucha Me immediately treated me like family and I learned so much about kombucha and the industry. I also learned about some of the more specific scientific detail
Our director was brewing for him and his family and noticed the drink getting more interest. He started consulting for other companies when the drink started to explode in Australia but found some of their practices to produce inauthentic kombucha. Dissatisfied with the companies he was consulting for he started Kombucha Me.
What makes your product unique?
We focus on botanical flavors such as elderflower and rose. As well as that we don’t use any fillers, all organically certified ingredients, no reconstituted juices, and no flavorings. We make real kombucha through traditional methods that are only focused on modern knowledge, not cheapened.
What do you want to convey through your brand image? Design: how was it designed? By who?
We want to convey that we’re ‘The real kombucha for real people’, that were traditionally brewed with integrity. Our brand developed from our shared passion for authentic kombucha that unlocked the potential of the drink. We shun any corner cutting that mass production can encourage. The ideas behind it were all our company directors’. The idea behind the ‘Me’ in Kombucha Me is that we try to unlock the full benefits of kombucha, and want to cater to all individuals in doing so. With some of the symbols like the barrel, we want to convey our intentions to stay true to authentic, traditional crafting and brewing practices. Little leaf symbols are scattered around our branding to symbolizes our floral and botanical themes in our flavors.
What are the main challenges in your company?
The main challenges for the company are making an authentic, quality product in a market where kombucha is largely brewed cutting corners. Cheaper ingredients, fillers, pasteurization, and flavorings make remaining price and resource competitive a real challenge. Also, in a market where many kombuchas are tailored to be a very soft drink like it is hard to make a traditional kombucha that people aren’t necessarily used to.
What tools are essential for your work(app, software)?
Our social media, Facebook, in particular, is essential for reaching people. Google, in general, is fantastic for finding new leads.
A word to define what type of worker you are:
What does your office space look like?
Uncluttered and clear for as much organization as possible as well as a cooperative working environment.
Do you have a way to organize your days to optimize your work?
Doing social media and blog writing first thing in the morning, at lunch and at the end of the day so I can do sales calls at more receptive times. Organizing meetings on less busy days.
What tips would you give to improve productivity?
Positivity and having a few things on the go to not get bored with a single task. Setting goals.
What is the best advice you have been given?
One honest action leads to another.
Can you give us a tour of your local Kombucha scene?
There are a few leading brands you can find everywhere since the most recent explosion of popularity. Many of these don’t appear to brew in the most authentic ways but there are many smaller brands that are working their way into the market and seem to do a lot of the right things. People’s palates are opening up more to kombucha but many aren’t used to the authentic drink yet.
How do you control the growth of your company?
We’re trying to link up with distributors who have local knowledge of their local scenes. Apart from that, we try to spread into new businesses in Sydney every week.
What is your strategy for making your beer known? (tastings, festival, etc.) Why this strategy?
We are attending the ‘Naturally Good’ expo in Sydney in June. We were also featured in the Gourmet Traveller magazine this year as one of their Top 5 Australian kombuchas. Mostly we make our product known through in-person interactions with retailers. We are running our first tasting in 2 weeks.
What are your end-of-day and early-day routine?
Early morning I fast, I start eating at 1. I make a smoothie for the end of the day and finish packing my bags for work and the rest of the day. At the end of the day, I typically finish with exercise, normally martial arts, and then watch something and hang out with my partner.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a Kombucha company?
Find a niche, focus on quality and plan out every move. Have pride in what you do and do it passionately. There’s a lot of competition but people are going to switch on more and more to what the real stuff is.
Apart from your computer and your phone, what gadget can you not do without?
Upcoming products or projects?
We’re currently in talks with distributors and businesses to expand in the Australian market. We’re going to a trade show, the Naturally Good Expo, in June, and my favorite flavor, apple jasmine, is coming out in bottles very soon, which I’m stoked about.