Who are you and what is your background?
We are Louisa and Conrad Ferrel, business school grads, CPAs and co-owners of True Buch Kombucha
Your current job:
Together with our team, we own and operate True Buch Kombucha – a brewery that supplies delicious kombucha to over 300 retailers across Alberta, BC, and Ontario
In which city:
Our brewery is located in Calgary
Where does your interest in Kombucha come from?
We traveled around the world back in 2012 as part of a year-long sabbatical and fell in love with draught Kombucha. Conrad was home brewing it at the time, and when we came back from our trip, we decided to start brewing and selling to local retailers.
What prompted you to start your company?
There was no one brewing draught kombucha in Alberta at the time, and we saw an opportunity to market the great product Conrad was already making.
What makes your product unique?
Our kombucha tastes great and we try work really hard to get as many people to try it because we know they will love the taste. We also don’t cut any corners. Our kombucha is traditionally brewed with SCOBYs in small batches and is always raw and unpasteurized.
What are the main challenges in your company?
Currently, as we continue to expand, we want to make sure that we can continue producing an authentic product that is raw and has organic ingredients and is still made in small batches. As we grow, quality control becomes essential and ensuring that our product is always consistent, and we are constantly working on ways to improve our processes to make sure this stays true.
What tools are essential for your work(app, software)?
Our team stays connected constantly through Slack. We love the ability to have different channels for separate discussions and to be able to attach photos and documents. We also couldn’t live without Quick Books online, which allows us to send invoices and keep real-time track of our accounts receivable as well as other important financial information.
A word to define what type of worker you are:
Smart. We always strive to work smarter and to be able to delegate tasks that can be delegated to our amazing staff.
What does your office space look like?
Our office space is inside the brewery and is currently right next to the compressor for our fridge, so it’s loud and very tight-knit.
Do you have a way to organize your days to optimize your work?
There are always tasks and to do lists that we cover off in order of importance and deadlines. But each day is different, as when you’re running your own business, things always come up that are on fire and need to be put out immediately, so most days get derailed.
What tips would you give to improve productivity?
Set aside blocks of time for things like responding to emails, otherwise, it’s an ongoing thing that distracts you from tasks throughout the day.
How do you control the growth of your company?
We’ve always been lucky enough that the demand for our product has been high. So our small production space is the factor that controls our growth for us. We work through our bottlenecks (the point in a process that has the most limited capacity and reduces the entire capacity of our business). For a while, our bottleneck was our manual bottling line until we invested in an automated bottling line that sped up the process. Next up, our fridge space was the issue and we have made some creative decisions – like having a refrigerated truck outside of our brewery to store some of our product. In general, we are close to having outgrown our current facility and are working to build a bigger space that will be ready next year so we can continue to expand. 17. What is your strategy for making your kombucha known? (tastings, festival, etc.) Why this strategy? Samplings and tastings are our best friends. We started off by doing several farmers markets and Market Collective (a local Calgary institution). We always knew that if people tried our product, they would be more likely to buy it, so we continue to sample as much as possible as part of our marketing efforts. We also love the local scene in Calgary and would never miss being a part of the Calgary Folk Festival, where we see so many of our die-hard customers.
What are your end-of-day and early-day routine?
Conrad meditates and stretches each morning before making his bulletproof coffee (always with Rosso coffee beans) and brings Louisa – who is not a morning person – her tea in bed. Louisa drinks tea in bed to de-morning herself before tackling the day. There’s no end of day routine for either of us other than cuddling our dog – Bob Marley.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a Kombucha company?
Go to Kombucha Kon – the industry conference that’s held each year in California. You’ll make a lot of kombucha friends and learn a lot about the industry you’re about to get into.
Apart from your computer and your phone, what gadget cannot you do without?
Noise canceling headphones – for the brewery office compressor noise and for flights.
upcoming products or projects?
We are ecstatic about our national growth this year, we just launched 170 new locations across Western Canada with Save On Foods. We are also very excited about some exciting new projects coming up to celebrate our community and continue our reinvestment into grassroots projects.