How One Woman Took Homemade Kombucha Mainstream
Ever since kombucha hit the scene, people have gone gaga for the fermented drink. Whether you brew your own kombucha or make tasty cocktail mixers with the probiotic powerhouse, if you’re crazy about kombucha, you’ll want to know more about how this Health-Ade co-founder took her recipe for homemade kombucha and turned it into a successful brand. In this week’s How to Quit Your Day Job, we chat with Daina Trout, who started Health-Ade with her husband and best friend, about how as a new mom she balances her best self with her work.
Meet the Kombucha Pro: Daina Trout
After graduating from Tufts University with a masters’ degree in nutrition and public health, Daina Trout moved to Los Angeles and worked a full-time corporate job. Trout made her own kombucha while in college, but while talking with her husband, Justin, and best friend, Vanessa Dew, she experimented with making a stronger, healthier SCOBY (the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and found that her new brew tasted better than any kombucha on the market. In 2012, she brewed batches of Health-Ade in her apartment closet while selling bottles at her local farmers’ market, alongside Justin and Vanessa. Over time, Trout and her Health-Ade co-founders built the small business into a national brand, quit their corporate day jobs, and now sell their beverage in major retailers like Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Target.
Brit + Co: What’s your morning routine?
Daina Trout: It’s changed since I’ve had a baby, that’s for sure! I wake up to my two-year-old, who’s ready for his morning milk at around 6am if I’m lucky, otherwise it’s earlier. My husband and I switch every day — one takes the “Hendriks” shift, and the other works out. If it’s my day to work out, I rush to a 6:30am Flywheel class, drive back home, wolf down some yogurt, dry shampoo the heck out of my hair, throw on some cute(ish) clothes, and do my makeup while driving to work. I have to get out of the house by 8am to be at the brewery at 8:30, which is when our day starts. If it’s my morning with Hendriks, his wake-up call (literally) is followed by what you’d expect — two hours of me and him getting ready for our day — milk/coffee, teeth, clothes, and breakfast. Two hours seems like an eternity — but trust me, somehow a two-year-old makes this almost impossible to do on a daily basis. No matter which day it is, I get to work and I’m like, “Damn, I’ve already had a morning!” I have a kombucha first thing at Health-Ade, and it gives me that second wind that carries me through the rest of the day.
B+C: What inspired you to start your company?
DT: My co-founders (my husband Justin and my best friend Vanessa Dew) and I all felt unfulfilled at our corporate jobs, and we knew we had it in us to start something game-changing that we could build ourselves. That was really the inspiration — the belief that we could make a meaningful mark. I had been making kombucha for some time before Health-Ade, and we had an opportunity to start selling my kombucha in the farmers’ markets while we were working on other entrepreneurial ideas. Once we saw the potential in Health-Ade at the farmers’ market (we would sell out usually by 10am), we knew we had something special. It was time to make our mark.
B+C: How do you challenge yourself as an entrepreneur?
DT: Just show up, and there’s a guaranteed challenge awaiting you. Seriously though — the difference between a “job” and being a founder is in my experience the following: Each day is made up of a whole bunch of problems you have to solve fast, each one challenging your intellect and capability in a new way. It’s a constant challenge, and you’re constantly out of your comfort zone — therefore, you’re always growing.
B+C: Tell us about how your family and friends help support your business.
DT: I don’t know what I’d do without my family, my friends, and my nanny. They help in so many ways. Health-Ade doesn’t allow for a lot of extra “space” in my life — and often last-minute things come up that force me to stay at work. My family helps by letting me stay at work and get it done. They’ll pick up my dry cleaning, take care of Hendriks, cook dinner, even do my grocery shopping if I need it. My friends help by keeping me focused. They pick me up when I’m feeling down — and this is very important for a founder. Founders get lonely, and it’s very hard at times. You don’t always have people you can talk to, and you feel an enormous amount of pressure. This can be distracting and take you off the ball. Friends offer perspective and love when you need it so you can get back on track. The most important person in my life, though, is Justin, my husband and co-founder. Justin picks up every piece of slack. He’s my true partner in all of this — friend, family, nanny, lover, confidant, house manager, and assistant when I need it. And hopefully he would say the same about me. There is NO way this would work without him.
B+C: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
DT: Just do it. You’ll figure everything out. Just like you always have.
B+C: What do you love about your job?
DT: I believe I have many characters within me that need attention and strive for “the driving seat.” This job calls them ALL out for their fair airtime — the innovator, the creative, the dreamer, the doer, the helper, the problem-solver, the inspirer, the actor, etc. I love that the work I do at Health-Ade satisfies all the different sides of my personality.
B+C: Name two female heroes who you think should get a shout-out.
DT: Vanessa Dew, my co-founder and “sister from another mister.” This girl has an unbelievable ability to not get stuck. She is such an incredible doer that nothing will stop her. She inspires me, because when I get tired — and I see she should be tired too — she’s just found a way to pick herself up and keep going like it “ain’t no thing.” I love that about her. She’s fierce. The other is my executive coach — Barbara Poole. She has heard it all from me, from tears to fears, and she always has the best advice. I feel like she’s a smarter, wiser version of me, and I get to check in with her every two weeks to grow up a bit. I’m really amazed — she gives me 100 percent presence when we speak, and in one hour I’ve usually figured out how to overcome a very big challenge.
B+C: If you could tell aspiring creative women anything, what would it would be?
DT: Follow your gut! It’s the best thing to do when you don’t know what to do. Tap in to all your strengths and go for it.
What’s your dream career? Tweet us @BritandCo to let us know, and we could feature it in the next column!
(Photos via Health-Ade)