Sharing the tea.
From a chance meeting at a party on the distant shores of British Columbia in Canada, the story of how Emmet Kerrigan and Keith Loftus came to form All About Kombucha is one to inspire the masses.
After returning from Canada where they ran a landscaping company, the pair realised that their partnership in business worked too well to give it up now they were on home soil.
Thus Avo Nice Day was born in November 2017. Catering to market punters and festival-goers all over Ireland, the pair provided an alternative to the carb-heavy and generally non-nutritious food offerings at said events.
As keen healthy-living enthusiasts and having discovered Kombucha while working in Canada, they felt it would be lapped up by Irish crowds. All About Kombucha became the latest addition to their collective bow.
The boys have perfected something that was long thought of to be for health benefits and not taste. What All About Kombucha have decided - and proven - is that the 2 need not be mutually exclusive.
We caught up with the brains behind the brand at their brewery in Moycullen to get a better knowledge of what the product is, what the benefits are and where it's going next. We even managed to get them to model our new Guardian collection while there ;)
What are your backgrounds?
We both come from a commerce background in NUI Galway where we properly met (first time was at a house party back when we were 16, all a bit hazy).
Emmett: I grew up in the countryside and was always tinkering around; building treehouses and dens, driving mini motors and playing rugby. I've always had an underlying interest in business. Working from an early age in my parents shop, I would be selling Christmas trees, organising events...always in the middle of some social extravaganza.
Keith: I grew up in Knocknacarra after moving about a bit. I would constantly be writing, taking notes, putting down ideas. I got into cooking at an early age and then fed my curiosity with travel and different business endeavours.
Leading from there, what made you want to start up your own business?
It's what our friendship was originally based on. We met one night at one of the University balls, and then kept joking about going to Canada and making loads of money... We did move to Canada, we did do our own thing but, we didn't make loads of money.
But we did fall into a business relationship over there and found comfort in it. We both excelled in different ways and found we were really well suited to work alongside one another. We never were happy doing anything else unless it was for ourselves and the greater good.
For those who don’t know, what is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a freshly fermented sparkling tea. At its core, it's simply tea, water, sugar and time. You steep your tea, add some sugar and let it ferment for anywhere between 7-30 days. By the end of the fermentation cycle you have a fizzy tea that no longer tastes like tea. The sugar has been mostly converted into probiotics and healthy acids. Simple as!
What are the health benefits?
There are a number of health benefits to the drink. Firstly, because it's a tea blend you get all the antioxidants you get from tea. Its got probiotics which are good for the health of your gut biome, currently the worlds most studied organ! It's got numerous kinds of healthy acids which help cleanse and regulate the body and its organs. And it's low in sugar, so you can quench your thirst guilt free!
What attracted you to the health drink market?
We would actually get excited going into the shops when living in Vancouver to buy Kombucha. We loved it. Always drinking it. It just seemed to be a drink that was associated with so many cool things we were getting into- podcasts, yoga, meditation, healthy living. We loved it.
Why do you think there has been such a resurgence in the popularity of Kombucha in recent years?
Good question. I think there's a couple of reasons. Firstly, people always want to drink tasty things with a fizz. But we've slowly become more educated on how bad sugar is for you. And the options up until recently haven't been great.
Now, people are coming in and innovating. They're taking what was and creating what is. Your basic, sub standard Kombucha thats covered with a tea towel sitting in your Granny's shed was never going to be your drink of choice, was it? But now, people have taken a keen interest in it. They've gotten scientific about the teas, the water, the fruits and roots. The length of the fermentation process.
Also, with something like Kombucha, you'll find your body seems to crave it because it wants the healthy acids, it wants the probiotics. And the more research we do into gut health and reduced sugar intake the more we are looking for good tasting alternatives. Kombucha just seemed to surface at the right time.
What's been the highlight of your journey so far?
There have been so many! Every day is a journey really; it's hard to remember what happened even last week at times!
I think winning Galway's best start up is definitely up there with the best moments, along with getting a 12 month contract to stock in Aldi. But the highlights are constant. We get to live a fun life and put all our creativity into something that gives people a good experience.
There have been a few very successful businesses set up by young people in Galway in the past few years. What do you think it is about Galway as a community that fosters this type of entrepreneurial drive?
Galway is the perfect balance between a city and a town. It's a concentrated hub. Not much goes under the radar and a lot of people in Galway are self made. They've all really excelled in their own way, therefore understand the struggle and want to help others out. It's great and we're delighted to be from here. The support from our local community has gotten us to where we are now.
Where do you see the business going/where would you like to take the business over the next 5 years
So many PLANS! We have loads of exciting things in the pipeline. We're concentrated on becoming one of Europes most innovative and best tasting Kombucha brands.
We are both not drinking at the moment and have found that there's not much choice out there when it comes to non- alcoholic options. They taste ok but you still get hungover from them, which makes no sense at all.
So we're working on a beer Kombucha that pours like a lager, holds a head and tastes citrus-y and hop-y! It should be fun. Who knows where that will take us. We're also looking into oat milk at the moment. Lots on the horizon!
For budding entrepreneurs, what is the key piece of advice you can share for someone starting out on the business path.
Find a partner where you compliment each others skills. This has been the key to our success; without one there wouldn't be the other. The bond is unbreakable.
Honesty too, you have to be honest with yourself and one another. We always say its for the good of the business not to become too emotionally invested in any one thing so you can stay objective and unbiased.
Also, just get it out there. Start now and improve along the way. Talk to people who have done it. Instagram is your friend, make some international connections. Organise calls, visits. Cultivate relationships in your local community and try and do some good with your product. Make sure you're doing it for the right reasons and don't harm anyone along the way. Oh, and stay on top of those accounts!