Who are you and what is your background?
Rachel Kanaan, I have been a massage therapist, aromatherapist, photographer and shamanic practitioner. I Also have a background in Waldorf Education.
Your current job:
I am Co-Founder, head of product development and formulation at Unity Vibration. I am the face of Unity Vibration at many events around the country. I am also a kombucha activist and educator.
In which city:
Ypsilanti Michigan. Between Ann Arbor and Detroit!
Where does your interest in Kombucha come from?
Many things! I love formulation and brewing, so aromatherapy and alchemy have always been involved in my work as a healer in one way or another. Health and wellness have been important to me as well- I am a cancer survivor (15+years ago) and alkaline food and beverage are important for preventive care and maintenance of our bodies.
What prompted you to start your company?
Passion and hobby meet the necessity. We loved brewing kombucha and had a small following in Santa Barbara, CA. We then went home to MI. in 2009 during the recession. No work to be had at that time so we took our hobby to the cottage industry level and the rest is history. Also for us, the journey has had a life of its own and always has propelled us especially through the difficult times.
What makes your product unique?
We are pioneers of the Kombucha Beer segment (or 'Hard Kombucha' as some call it). We started making K Beer in 2011. We also had the first official Kombucha microbrewery registered in the United States and likely world. Our product is very 'Craft'! We were influenced by the amazing craft beer brewing community in Michigan and we are members of the Michigan Brewers Guild. We are the only Kombucha to ever make a Draft Magazines Top 25 Best Beer in the USA. We pride ourselves on our flavor and craft nature as well as authenticity.
What do you want to convey through your brand image? Design: how was it designed? By who?
We attempt to convey a message of the craft movement as well and of oneness or 'Unity.' Love Health and Possibility. Our vibe is acceptance, peace, and inclusiveness. Feeling the ONE but honoring each other's individuality. We also bring in archetypes and urban legends into our messaging to create a sense of fun and bringing our best selves forward. We have used more than a few companies for this but utilize our art from several very talented local artists. We are currently re-branding with Kingdom and Sparrow in the UK. They are super awesome, have an uncommon vibe and attention to detail and story that is right in line with Unity.
What are the main challenges in your company?
As a pioneer in the segment, education and kombucha awareness has been key. As well as education for retailers and distributors about the necessity of refrigeration and proper placement was difficult initially. The beverage is cash intensive as well.
What tools are essential for your work(app, software)?
Ekos Brewmaster, QBO are our mainstays. We love LinkedIn, Foundersuite, Zoom, and Eventbrite and we use a slew of other things for many of the multitasking jobs we do.
A word to define what type of worker you are:
"Mercurial" Definition of mercurial. (Entry 1 of 2) 1: of, relating to, or born under the planet Mercury. 2: having qualities of eloquence, ingenuity, or thievishness attributed to the god Mercury or to the influence of the planet Mercury. 3: characterized by rapid and unpredictable changeableness of mood.
What does your office space look like?
Up in a mezzanine overlooking the brewery floor. Very utilitarian, sometimes overcrowded with stacks of Imbibe, Bon Appetite and New Brewer surrounded by prayer flags and positive affirmations. And 2 giant exercise balls (we use as chairs and for stretching!).
Do you have a way to organize your days to optimize your work?
Sometimes. I find too much rigidity can kill creativity.
What tips would you give to improve productivity?
Keep a good calendar. I have been the most productive when I do a block schedule. Reminder, reminders, reminders!
What is the best advice you have been given?
Always stay true to the mission and essence of your product.
Can you give us a tour of your local Kombucha scene?
It would be us here in South East Michigan! Our Tasting room is super fun on the weekends with many kombucha tea and beer flavors that you will find nowhere else. We wholeheartedly support our community with fundraisers regularly, host local and regional musicians and artists every week.
How do you control the growth of your company?
Lots of work with our distributors and sales reps.
What is your strategy for making your beer known? (tastings, festival, etc.) Why this strategy?
Brewing the best K Beer we can, the highest quality and the PR that comes with it! You can't argue with Quality...We also appreciate our Reps in each market and the attention we have on our distributors.
What are your end-of-day and early-day routine?
Beginning of day is meditation and visualization or breathing exercises, then helping River our youngest (10 years) off to school. End of the day looks much the same. throw in some Gaia TV and a delicious meal.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a Kombucha company?
Have a great business plan and forecasting method, have a great team, and lots of funding up front. Creating a team of experts will help so much!
Apart from your computer and your phone, what gadget cannot you do without?
Upcoming products or projects?