History: Our Founder's Story
[In her words, circa 2009]
I'm Rana, the owner, operator and founder of House Kombucha. Here's a little history on how this company came to be.
thirsty and broke.
I started this company during the summer of 2009. I was a new law graduate and had passed the bar (what a breeze!) but the economy was so SLOW, I had to make my own kombucha. I remembered my mom making it when I was growing up and she survived on her homebrewed kombucha, so I figured I could too.
It turned out the kombucha liked me as much as I liked it! So I said eff lawyering (oops!). I had no money to start a business but I believed this: if I put as much work into creating my own job as I did asking others to give me one, I ought to get somewhere.
I started a sustainable kombucha business in the now defunct Metreon Farmers Market October 2009 with my true friend Asad Modarai, a couple buckets, a sleeve of paper cups, a folding table and a dry erase board.
not looking to brand and bottle the kombucha.
My vision was to sell kombucha by the refillable growler to customers and kegs to restaurants, bars and cafes. I wanted my kombucha to be enjoyed by the glass, not the bottle. I saw kombucha as a social beverage, complex and refined, not just a healthy a sports drink. I wanted the best hotels and eateries of San Francisco to have an in-house kombucha on tap. I was not interested in branding my business. I had a negative connotation w/ bottled beverages and all the marketing and garbage they produce. I didn't want to waste time w/ all of that. I just wanted to make the best kombucha ever and have other people like it so much they would want to put their own name on it and call it their house kombucha. Hence the name House Kombucha!
learning a lot.
It turned out my original vision made no business sense. People like to-go bottles. They prefer to have it in a 16oz. glass bottle even if the bottle costs up to $1 more. At that time, most hotels and restaurants had no idea what kombucha was and did not want to find out. I realized that bottling the beverage would be the only way to succeed.
the perfect bottle.
As an environmentalist, I vowed to re-use my glass bottles, all of them. I needed the perfect bottle and I found it.
It's called the WOBO, short for the World Bottle. It was envisioned by Alfred Heineken in 1963 after he went on vacation to the Caribbean and was saddened to see the beach littered with his beer bottles. He had no intention of polluting the earth with his business and wanted to encourage another use for the bottles, building houses! The WOBO is designed to fit together like bricks and its perfect for House Kombucha. What better way to bring back the old fashion bottle re-use than with an iconic brick bottle?
Mr. Heineken was ahead of his time with the concept and only a few bottles were ever made. We will have to re-make the bottle since Heineken is not giving out their original design. Nonetheless the idea is strong in our company. One day when we have these brick bottles and we're the prize of SF, I dream one of the Heart of San Francisco sculptures will be made out of our glass bottles. Hence, the logo!
on my own.
The Metreon farmer's market shut down after I was only vending for 1 month! I was left w/ a boiler-room fermentation enterprise (click for video from our earliest days), some encouraging fans and no way to sell besides an occasional underground market or street food event.
So I held my breath and bought $500 worth of glass bottles. This was a huge investment at that time because city permit's and farmer's market rent had wiped me dry. Reliant on the MUNI bus and City CarShare, I set forth selling cases of 16oz bottles to cafes and grocery stores.
One year of hard hustling labor later and I had built a state of the art fermentation facility and successfully employed 3 talented San Franciscans who were previously jobless.
Every day, House Kombucha continues to enjoy the unsurpassable distinction of being the best kombucha in this world class region of the San Francisco Bay Area.
When I look at my lovely factory I feel so proud and thankful.
I will always owe my brilliant workers, forbearing parents, and enthusiastic customers for helping this happen. And if you haven't noticed ;), I totally believe in the power of divine assistance (Yes, we PRAY for the fermenting kombucha so that it stays healthy and may make YOU healthy too). I give my whole thanks to the Lord on High for all the opportunities that make up LIFE.