Well Made

Ep. 118 Making Kombucha Mainstream with Vanessa Dew

May 6, 2020 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

If you already know that kombucha is fermented tea, you're in the minority. If you drink it, you're in an even smaller minority. In the US, only 17% of US households drink kombucha. The idea of a fermented tea made from a hunk of slimy-looking culture is not immediately appetizing, but the taste and health benefits have appealed to people for thousands of years — it's only in the past decade that it's become a mainstay in every health foods store. 

When Health-Ade Kombucha launched in Los Angeles farmers' markets in 2012 Vanessa Dew and her co-founders had to explain it to health food early adopters. Fast forward eight years, and you can find their bright, colorful, nautical-themed bottles in grocery stores and health food stores across the country, but Vanessa realizes they still have a lot of space to make kombucha a household name. In this episode, Vanessa shares their strange path to kombucha, how they've seen buying habits shift dramatically since people have quarantined, and what they're doing to make kombucha as approachable as possible.

“We really try to make a concerted effort to make it approachable ... something that doesn't scare you off, but rather, draws you in.”

 Making Kombucha Mainstream

There’s a lot of space to grow in the kombucha industry. Vanessa talks about plans to get kombucha to the masses (3:29). As more people learn more about how the importance of gut health, the popularity of kombucha has continued to climb (3:51). Vanessa shares her own health journey that eventually led to kombucha — with some notable detours along the way. Before they sold kombucha, Vanessa and her co-founders were actually making kombucha for the SCOBY and testing it for a men’s hair loss product (10:32).

Before COVID-19, Health-Ade Kombucha’s ecommerce site was pretty dormant with most of their sales happening in stores. Now they’ve seen online, direct-to-consumer sales go up over 1,000% (21:49)! She shares the challenges of shipping cold, heavy products and how they quickly pivoted production to work within the constraints of a pandemic. Vanessa and Stephan round out the episode by going into the details of the bottle and branding design and why it was important to them that they move to custom bottles as soon as they could (34:49). We end with some exciting sneak peeks of some new innovations Healthade is working on.


Also mentioned on this episode:

Header image by Skandia Shafer for Life & Thyme


You can find this and all future episodes on iTunes, Google Play, and here on the Lumi blog. This episode was edited by Evan Goodchild.

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