Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Annette Piper, Co-Owner of Piper’s Kombucha Brew, located in Orcutt, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a small batch, organic whole food infusion kombucha brewing bar. Our customers are of all ages, and mostly women, who are either kombucha lovers, new to kombucha, or are all about fermentation and the health benefits it provides.
Tell us about yourself
I am the co-owner of Piper’s Kombucha Brew with my husband, Shane Piper. About ten years ago, my husband started brewing kombucha at home in a little jar on a shelf, which continued to grow into bigger jars and eventually grew into six-gallon glass jars in our sunroom. This just continued to grow in our home, along with the flavor experiments, which is where I became involved with making the kombucha. I am the “Flavor Lady” or “Kitchen Witch,” some say, creating my own flavors for the brew, and I love it! I love to cook and create space, so I began to play with whole food infusions to create flavors, and it all took off from there. It’s a beautiful polarity between us.
I’m the creative brain, and Shane’s the science brain. This works well because we stay in our own lanes and appreciate the different gifts we each bring to the brew. Currently, my son Logan is our main brewer, he took over brewing during the pandemic because everything shifted. Shane was sent out of the country for work for a few months at a time, then traveled out of state, and when “home,” he would work out of town five days a week, and this has been the situation ever since. Now, Shane is able to assist more on the weekends when he’s home, which is of great support. We are deeply grateful to Logan for stepping up to help us save our business during the unpredictable chaos of the pandemic.
We opened our small kombucha bar in the little town I grew up in on August 31st, 2019, and it took off initially really well, to the point of us selling out regularly and forcing me to leave my job of nearly 17 years to work in the business full time. We are deeply grateful our doors remain open today as a result of the challenges over the last couple of years. What motivates me to keep going right now is all the people from all over the country who come to visit and love our kombucha! Especially some regulars, who come from the Bay Area, LA, and Orange County monthly to fill their growlers! Our customers are the heartbeat of our business, and we appreciate them.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Surviving the pandemic, after only being open 6 months when it hit the world.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
In my experience thus far, employee retention is the greatest challenge, and not having the resources to hire quality staff is also a significant issue currently. Because staff turnover is so high for small businesses in the service industry right now, it all falls on the owner, and burnout is high as a result.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
A solid business plan is essential. Create a brand, and market your business well.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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