19 Feb From hair-loss to kombucha empire: Health-Ade’s journey to #1 fastest growing beverage
A man’s biggest fear (sometimes women, too) is hair loss. Fortunately for us this fear helped bring Health-Ade, one of the most successful kombucha brands today, into reality one scoby at a time. Daina Trout, Co-founder & CEO of Health-Ade, dropped into ReSci’s annual kick-off meeting to share her story of building Health-Ade and her vision of making their kombucha the “new soda” of our generation.
The story begins with Daina’s boyfriend (now husband) seeking a solution for hair loss. He found out that some parts of the world used “scobys,” the main element for creating kombucha, to promote hair growth. So that was it—they decided to take on the hair-loss market by creating a product based on the scoby. They started to brew kombucha, gallons at a time, purely to produce scobys. Eventually, they were offered a spot to sell their new “cosmetic product” at the Brentwood Farmers Market in Los Angeles. They were not ready; it wasn’t tested, labeled, or ready to be sold. However, they realized they were sitting on a goldmine of kombucha. They said “what the hell, lets bottle it and sell this thing.” The rest is history. In 2018, Health-Ade was the fastest growing kombucha brand.
Daina shared her story of trying to mass produce kombucha in a small apartment, getting into Gelson’s supermarket, and the struggles to compete against an already established competitor. She also discussed her personal journey of having children, working with her husband, and creating a work-life balance while managing a multi-million dollar company.
Here are Daina’s key insights that helped build the company:
Stay true to your brand
Daina stressed that you need to define your brand and stick to it and be authentic when you’re building a brand. What is your brand? What does it stand for? What do you do different? Everything you do must fit your brand and what it represents.
She was asked “What justifies the price of your product compared to similar beverages types?” Her answer was simple “We use real, organic, high-quality ingredients and choose not to include any additives to create the best tasting, highest quality kombucha,” she said. This aligns exactly with what the brand represents, which is the commitment to provide real, natural food.
She also notes that branding may change over time as business scales. Health-Ade went through branding revisions early and had time to revisit and refine its brand—bottle design, symbolic logos, down to webpage content—focused on what the brand should represent to the consumer.
Be about it and talk about it
Health-Ade’s culture is guided by “The people + The liquid + The brand” It’s a great way to define vision and culture of the company. She expressed that the people behind the products matter to the consumer. The company culture gives the consumer an idea of what your company stands for and what you’re all about.
Health-Ade bases their culture around the commitment to provide real food that’s accessible to all. Health-Ade has company wide composting programs, actions in place to reduce their carbon footprint, and community outreach initiatives. They partner with Garden School Foundation, that provides education about gardening, nutrition and cooking to underprivileged children.
Company culture is also important for attracting like-minded people to your company. You want to hire people that fit into your culture and that help you carryout your vision and goals.
Giving up is not an option
Daina was asked if at any point of her journey if she wanted to quit. Her reply: everyday.
In the beginning, the Health-Ade team struggled to get on shelves. They waited everyday with a cup of coffee for the manager of Gelson’s until he took a meeting. Even after inviting Gelson’s team to bare witness the demand for their kombucha, still the decision was no. It felt like all was lost. A few months later Gelson’s called and Health-Ade was on the shelf the next day.
This one small victory transpired greater things ahead for Health-Ade. They’re now in shelves all over the world and is one of the most recognized brands. Daina said it doesn’t matter how you get there, but know what to do once you are. She believes that anything worth fighting for is worth it, and the feeling of “giving up” comes with the territory of being an entrepreneur. “The people that win are the ones that get back on the horse” she said.
Lastly, Daina mentioned it’s critical to take time to recharge. Take time to feed yourself, not just your work. Balance your personal and professional life and carve out time for things that are important to you like family and friends.
A big thank you to Daina for dropping by to share her story and knowledge with the ReSci team. It was a truly inspiring story to hear as we start the new year. As Daina says “we’re better of sharing than comparing!” #followyourgut
Learn more about Health-Ade kombucha products and who they are here and follow them on social media.
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