Despite the fact that women were the first alewives and brewsters in many societies, craft beverages have long been dominated by men. With the rise of the kombucha industry over the last twenty-five years, women have found a new opportunity to once again carve a space for themselves as business leaders and masters of the brew.
In fact, as we celebrate International Women’s Day at KBI, we are proud to report that over 40% of our members have a female owner or founder. We reached out to these women, who are making names for themselves and for kombucha all over the world, to ask them to share their experience and advice for other female entrepreneurs.
Women in Kombucha Around the Globe
Australia & New Zealand
Amanda Carroll – rok Kombucha (Australia)
Being a working mother balancing and nurturing both a growing business and growing children is something that I take great pride in. I have the utmost respect for women managing both, it’s a juggle but it’s worth it. Happy International Women’s Day to all the women out there doing the juggling act!
Helen Tricarico – HOTI Healthy On The Inside (Australia)
My one tip for fempreneurs is to just start. I believe as women we often tread with caution in business and don’t take risks that men might otherwise take. We are traditionally nurturers with an instinct for longevity so I encourage all women to just get out there. Pick one thing, do that well in one sales channel for one year and just start.
Jo Kempton- Happy Belly Ferments (New Zealand)
I’m proud to be building a business which suits myself and my family. It fits in with my life and is a big part of my life. My business is not separate from me, it is part of me. I love that.
You never need to do business alone. There are always amazing people available to help, all you have to do is choose to let them help you. Whether it is family, friends or employing extra assistance there is never a need to feel unsupported in business.
Dasha Smolentseva – Artizen Kombucha (Perth, ON)
I am a young woman (34 years old) an immigrant to Canada, a mother of three children and a BIG dreamer. My greatest advice to other fempreneurs: throw out the window everything they said, and create a life that works for you. Young and want kids? Go for it. Want to create a business at the same time? Do it. Set your own rules.
Impatience can be a great asset. Everything I have achieved has come out of impatience to fulfill my dreams of creating and growing Artizen Kombucha. That and laser focus. Super proud as an immigrant business owner and a mother – to have pivoted in 2020 during COVID pandemic, for which Artizen Kombucha received the 2020 Business Breakthrough award.
Mel Tremblay — Babes Boocha! (Hanover, ON)
Being a female entrepreneur has its hardships for sure, but it makes me proud to be one as it puts you in this community of women helping women. Yes, we can be competitive, but in my experience, we build each other up and help rather than stepping on one another. Sisters helping sisters.
Victoria Lundgard – Happy Belly Kombucha (Calgary, AB)
I feel so blessed to have a thriving business as it has afforded me to keep my priorities and live a healthy balanced lifestyle while positively impact other’s health with one can of Happy Belly Kombucha at a time. I wish I had known that it is possible to be a happy and successful entrepreneur, mom, and wife a lot sooner.
Natalie Surette – Laurentian Brew Kombucha Company (Deep River, ON)
Be strong and fierce. Believe in yourself and believe in your fellow female entrepreneurs. There’s nothing more powerful than a band of women who come together to raise each other up. We’re creating space and adding more seats at the table of women-led success in this world.
Jenice Smith – Steep Peak Kombucha (Crowsnest Pass, AB)
Finding the perfect balance between our kombucha business and our family has always been a challenge, especially when we began our business and had small children at home. Focusing on getting outside, even for micro-adventures, is key in finding that balance.
Zoey Shamai – Tonica Kombucha (Woodbridge, ON)
In business, you either WIN or you LEARN. Don’t think of your experiences as losses or mistakes, they are learning opportunities. Often the biggest lessons are on the other side of fear, so step outside of your comfort zone and weigh your decisions carefully- sometimes taking a risk is the only way to reap the big rewards! The journey has been all the sweeter because of what I’ve learned from the ups and downs and how I’ve harnessed the experiences for smoother tomorrows.
Beth Allen – Wild Tea Kombucha (Calgary, Alberta)
Women are a lot like our kombucha cultures. We are strong, we are diverse, we are unique, we are capable, we are beautiful!! This IWD, I’m pledging to challenge the labels we place on women who make their voices heard. As women in business, we’re often told we’re too pushy, aggressive, bitchy. It’s time we celebrate our strength and encourage one another to BE the strong women we are, and not silence ourselves for the sake of others.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and need. Fill your network with women that inspire and encourage you. Protect your time and energy and don’t be afraid to say no.
Michelle Leclair – Wolseley Kombucha (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
There’s nothing more empowering than running your own business, growing your business and solving problems along the way. I’ve been so lucky to have an incredible community of local women entrepreneurs that have supported me in many ways through my journey. Women supporting women is where it’s at! Let’s do this ladies!!
Alyson Lundstrom – Blissful Bombooch (Macau, CHN)
There may be male dominant areas in the industry, but there are no male jobs. I love working in a brewery with all the wetness and bad fashion choices it sometimes entails. Blaze a path unapologetically. It just breaks this paradigm of women having to take the extra step of validating their vision at every turn.
“The most revolutionary thing a woman can do, is not explain herself.” – Glennon Doyle
Cindy Chen & Sharon Lee – ZesTea Kombucha (Taiwan)
“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it.
If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
If you don’t step forward, you’re alway in the same place. ”
And brewing kombucha makes everything possible!
Europe & The UK
Freya Twigden- Fix8 Kombucha (London, UK)
I think it’s easy to lack confidence for many women in business. Especially when it comes to raising capital or venturing into a male-dominated industry like drinks. I think staying grounded and trusting yourself is important. I love the phrase ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ – the worst thing I can do is not try.
Growth doesn’t happen in our comfort zone. It’s going to be hard, but you will consistently rise to the challenge and grow as a result. Look after yourself along the way, and don’t forget to ask for help when you need it.
Katherine Attieh – KTea Kombucha (Channel Islands, UK)
If you start with passion and self belief, the rest can be learnt along the way. Never let the fact that you are a woman ever hold you back!
Magda Wolska – Meduzyna Kombucha (Warsaw, Poland)
A tip for perfectionist entrepreneurs: don’t be afraid of asking for help or outsourcing some parts of your work. It’s not a sign of weakness, but a way of concentrating on things that matter most. Sometimes it can also help other people grow.
Naya Bravo – Meraki Ferments (Galicia, Spain)
I am certain that every human brain overflows with ideas every single day. The entrepreneur is someone that captures one of those crazy brain waves and materializes it. I have been very lucky to have a family that supports this roller coaster of attempts to find what I like. I feel tremendously successful thinking that only 3 years ago almost no one knew what kombucha was in Galicia, and now we are all over the country.
What would I have loved to know decades ago? Your product is always the first version of something that will continue to improve overtime. Do not stop because it is not perfect, because you don’t have a Masters degree or 10 years of experience. YOU have the tools and will seek the answers as you move. After 2 years I still have so much to improve and that is the way it should be, if not, we become robots… and what woman wants to run a business without a soul?
Kendra Littles – Probio Drinks (Barcelona, Spain)
My advice for other entrepreneurs is to find your happy place. When things get rough (and you can count on things getting difficult!), take yourself to your happy place. It has a strong affect on your ability to lower your stress hormones and get your head into a better space to solve problems. Mine is in my lab creating new mixtures of kombucha and functional foods to send out healing into to the world!
Luna Tarnawiecki Waitkuwait – St. Ferment (Breisgau, Germany)
Self-employment is challenging and sometimes exhausting. But it makes me incredibly proud and happy. I would like to encourage everyone to trust their own abilities.
Hanna Katajamäki, The Good Guys Kombucha (Tampere, Pirkanmaa, Finland)
As entrepreneurs we are shaping the society of the future. It’s our obligation to take part in social movements for a more equal and inclusive culture in our societies. Salute sisterhood!
Mar & Núria Benet, Vitae Kombucha (Barcelona, Spain)
We are Mar Benet and Núria Benet and together with Rogeli Gómez we are the founders of VITAE KOMBUCHA. We are majority women and this provides a more collaborative, compassionate, adaptable and resilient leadership. Like ours “mothers”!!! Very proud of them and of us!!
Jessi Hoeft – Ensign Beverage (Hastings, NE)
One thing that I have gotten better at doing over the years is listening to my gut, following through and acting on it. The world of kombucha and listening to your gut go hand in hand, so that’s handy!!
One of my absolute favorite things I have been able to do over the past few years is mentor other entrepreneurial spirits. To see someone realize their dream and be able to help them along the way only seems to grow the passion I have for my businesses. I’m happy to pay it forward from all of the people who have helped me. It‘s not always an easy road, in fact it’s the toughest job I have ever had. But at the end of the day I get to create, share, collaborate and be me.
Regina Sant’Anna – Kombucha Brava (Evanston, IL)
Here is a photo of the biggest loves in my life: my two amazing daughters who have learned growing up to speak their minds and push back against patriarchy.
We make this incredible traditional kombucha elixir with a lot of care. It is a creative and dynamic process where we get to connect to ourselves, our guts, and our community.
The business and the name Brava was born in 2016 out of passion, courage, resilience and force–all attributes of a woman. To all women everywhere: We can do anything!
Sarah Trombley – Lunar Infusions (Fort Wayne, IN)
Starting my own business has given me a sense of accomplishment and growth. As a female entrepreneur, there is an added layer of self doubt that you have to overcome so I love that I can help inspire other women to turn their passion into a dream job!
Jessica Ollis- Spring Branch Kombucha (Springfield, MO)
As an advocate for children with unique abilities–including my own child–one of the goals for starting my own business is to provide meaningful employment for people with all types of abilities. As our business grows, I look forward to making that dream an eventual reality.
Gayle Galbraith – The Federal Brewing Co (Federalsburg, MD)
Don’t play small – It’s okay to be large and in charge. Kombucha Life is Good.
Meaghan Carpenter – HEX Ferments (Baltimore, MD)
When I officially started HEX Ferments in 2013 it had already taken three years to become a legitimate licensed business. I had to educate my city health department that what I was planning on making (fermented vegetables and kombucha) was not only safe but would benefit our local community. At one point a city zoning official told me that “Sauerkraut would not save the world and I should stop”– he then hung up on me. This taught me only to move ahead with more conviction and to stand firm in my love for the art and craft of traditional fermentation.
My Grandmother did not stop making sauerkraut because society told her it could be done quicker and cheaper and neither would I. My advice to women out there, whatever you are dreaming to do…keep going! Keep pushing. It will be tough. There will be days that you want to quit because there will always be naysayers. Prove them wrong! #gowithyourgut
Nina Gordon – Kulture Kombucha Martha’s Vineyard (Martha’s Vineyard, MA)
Since my kids are now grown, I’m proud to be a single mom to my kombucha microbrewery. It’s so satisfying to bring much appreciated health and wellness to my community despite all the hard work.
Hope Bigler – Undone Kombucha (Chambersberg, PA)
I was so naive when I started this adventure. I didn’t realize the mountains I would have to continually climb. haha! These few sentences remind me to look for the possibility in every problem.
“Your challenges are not an indictment against your capacity.
They are invitations to expand it.
To fortify it.
To fortify it for horizons yet to come.
Don’t back down.“
Kat Gopez – KombuchaKat (Los Angeles, CA)
Growing up in the Philippines, I was exposed to a lot of double standards in the culture, where women stayed at home and were expected to have a more timid, shy, and even delicate nature. While I admit to carry some of these certain traits myself, I am proud to have gained the courage to take the leap and slowly make my vision come true.
Being a female business owner has given me the freedom to create and share a part of myself to others. While I know I have a long way ahead of me, having that opportunity to keep learning and keep growing is one thing that keeps me motivated and proud to be where I am. I also appreciate the support I get from my loving husband, whom I am very grateful for – a creative, supportive environment, truly matters.
Each day presents its own obstacles, and it is a delicate balance to continue being mindful of what is truly important to you, and keeping an open mind. I’ve realized that not everything will go as planned, but there will always be an opportunity to grow. Breath, and all will be okay.
Kellie Moffatt – Luna Booch (Long Beach, CA)
Being in KBI has really inspired me because I’ve been introduced to so many successful female entrepreneurs during events like Kombucha Kon. As a female business owner something I’m proud of is that my mom was the one who taught me how to make kombucha. One quote that I live by is “Be able to work with the energy at hand. When things are easy, work hard. When things are hard, go slow.”
Pilar Quintero – Alegre Farm (Dacula, GA)
In my situation, I’ve always had a go-getter attitude, knowing that good things don’t come easy. So the more challenging the goal and/or obstacle the more fight, energy, and tenacity to work through it. Never allowing a no to stop me, making sure not to leave any stone unturned, and just look for answers, and God willing, a green light would appear and that small accomplishment gave me the drive to persevere.
Nancey Legg – Better Kombucha (Birmingham, AL)
Community has always been very important to me. Starting Better Kombucha has allowed my community to grow larger than I could have ever imagined. Together we are Better.“It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Jeannine Buscher & Sarah Schomber – Buchi (Marshall, NC)
We believe fermentation is the expression of a natural tendency to preserve, put away, and nourish. It’s a ritual that’s all about the alchemy of ingredients essential to the hearth and home, where, historically, women were the keepers. As leaders in the burgeoning fermentation industry, women continue to redefine what it means to nurture as they safeguard the practice of preservation for future generations.
Tonya Donati – Mother Kombucha (St. Petersburg, FL)
One of the gifts of being a female entrepreneur is the opportunity to use the knowledge, resources and connections that I’ve gained to help other women along in their journeys. I strongly encourage and challenge others to do the same – reach out to women in business for guidance and then pay that forward whenever the opportunity arises.
Shanti Volpe – Shanti Elixirs (Asheville, NC)
Something that I have learned over the past few years as a female entrepreneur is that it’s ok not to have all of the answers, and to receive support but in the end always listen to your intuition no matter what!I have also found it helpful to delve deep into why you are doing what you are doing. What is the purpose of your business? If you have a clear vision and you have identified your purpose, you can weather any storm!
Amanda Webb – Wild Magnolia Kombucha (Mobile, AL)
Hi there! I am Amanda Webb and am the owner and lead brewma’am for Wild Magnolia Kombucha in Coastal Alabama.
“When you’re in the arena, sometimes your biggest opponent is yourself. You have to pull your shoulder back; pull up ya boot straps and go kick some ass. Even if that just entails taking a dang shower.”
Western US & Texas
Jenni Lyons – Happy Leaf Kombucha (Denver, CO)
As a business owner I’m proud that I have an opportunity to work with and learn from strong women every single day. Every person needs to choose to challenge gender bias, not just women.
Jess Matthews & Alexis DeLeon, Lazy Beach Brewing (Corpus Christi, TX)
In an industry that has been heavily male it’s hard only because they assume too little of me. When we first opened, we were the first production brewery in Corpus Christi. I hit road blocks because it was an all new area,” Jess recalls. “Now the industry has grown in Corpus but Lazy Beach remains ahead of the times, brewing the first hard Kombucha in Texas.”
Alexis De León is the Kombucha Queen at Lazy Beach. “I’m no stranger to male dominated settings in a work place, but it does feel cool to be introduced as a brewer, you always see people’s eyes light up. There is one other female (beer) brewer in town and we’ve become best friends through our brewing bond. I feel like brewers and business owners are a rare breed and it’s even more rare when they are female, so that sorta makes all of us like the pioneers of our industry,” Alexis explains.
Jess and Alexis agree the best perk to being a female business owner and a female brewer is having an amazing group of women supporting other women in the brewing community.
Kara Deyhle – New Mexico Ferments (Albuquerque, NM)
In reflecting on showcasing women in our industry, I feel inspired and in awe of the resilience and the abundance that women bring to our local Albuquerque community and to the world. I’m grateful to be surrounded by strong women who have done amazing things. I think about the many strong women who have swam against the current and started their own business, who play pivotal roles in the organizations they represent, and who are the leaders and guides of so many amazing and beautiful things. I’m grateful for the support and solidarity I’ve felt with many of these women and cherish the nourishment this has provided me.
Ines Magri – Bendita Kombucha (Uruguay)
My advice to any other women following their dreams, is to surround yourselves with a beautiful and empowered female network and share everything you know. You never know who you might help next in fulfilling their dream.