Locate East Sussex has helped us by putting us in touch with the right connections, helping us to develop our business further.Lisa DriverBooyah Vitality
Kombucha is a fermented tea that is naturally sweet and lightly carbonated with a slightly sour taste. It is probiotic, good for gut health and naturally low in sugar. According to The Grocer, the industry is set to grow 209% year on year.
Seeing an opportunity in a growing trend, Lisa Driver’s passion for kombucha began with her attempts at keeping her and her family healthy. As a naturopathic nutritional therapist as well as a fitness instructor, Lisa understands the importance of healthy living and using food as medicine, looking into healthy drinks as an alternative to sugary fruit juices.
Based on the belief that health is not just about committing to fitness, but also about embracing healthy eating habits, Lisa started to sharing her research and recipes in her Pilates class so that her clients could create healthy drinks at home.
‘I wanted to give people a more holistic view of health and wellbeing.’
By bringing in her own, personal mixtures, for example, turmeric shots, Lisa found a growing demand from her clients who were even offering to pay her for it.
Going from turmeric shots to kombucha was a natural progression. ‘Originally,’ Lisa said, ‘I made kefir (a fermented yoghurt drink), and my family weren’t keen. I looked into the evidence behind organic kombucha, and it has been shown to have similar benefits, and when I learnt to make it, found it was also a nicer drink.’ From there, experimenting with new and different flavours, Lisa turned to kombucha as the signature drink for Booyah Vitality.
Considering all the products available in supermarkets, Lisa reflected on why her drink could compete with more prominent brands: ‘The problem with many other kombuchas in the shops is that they are pasteurised, and a lot of good bacteria is killed by heat. In addition, they lack confidence in their own drinks, they add more sugar or stevia to sweeten them. This is just not necessary; kombucha is a naturally low-sugar sweet drink, and you can still have nice drinks even if you’re on a diet’.
When lockdown was put into place in mid-March, Lisa felt it was the right time to make the business their main priority and launch into the wider community. It was a daunting task, but as Lisa put it: ‘it was a chance that we simply had to take’.
The world went on pause and Philip, Lisa’s husband, who had to interrupt his commercial diving career, took a natural lead in production. ‘I told him, we’ve got to push this.
We increased our production almost immediately, and Philip perfected our formulas. Alongside our daughter Phoebe, we make a great team!
'We haven’t killed each other yet,’ Lisa added humorously.
They launched Booyah Vitality at the right time, meeting the demand from customers wanting a local product and choosing to shop locally.
Starting with delivering on Fridays in St Leonards and Hastings, Lisa and Philip have managed to build up an impressive production facility using organic tea and natural spices and flavours, making over 200 litres weekly for their expanding range of drinks, and their daughter Phoebe taking charge of their social media and managing the shipping and delivery of orders.
Locate East Sussex became aware of Booyah Vitality and offered to support the company’s journey. Creating a new business and launching new products in a turbulent time, the team found Booyah Vitality’s efforts admirable and inspiring.
Locate East Sussex helped Booyah Vitality in building business confidence and helping them to capitalise on their market. Lisa explained that with Locate East Sussex’s Jim Fletcher’s financial forecasting techniques, she was able to see that the business was ‘…not just a hobby; we’d actually made this happen!’
As a part of the investment strategy, Lisa had learnt about an opportunity to rent a hut on Hastings Pier. ‘We heard there was one hut left (on the pier), we emailed, and they said it was ours the next day.’ Taking a chance, Booyah Vitality found new prospective customers, and weekly sales numbers during lockdown have now turned into daily sales numbers for the combined pier and online outlets, becoming a mainstay on the Hastings Pier own bar menu.
While their tenure at Hastings Pier is currently being negotiated for the winter period, they have expanded their online sails and Lisa said:
‘Our biggest challenge now is not running out of stock! We are working hard to keep up with the demand.’
Booyah Vitality is currently trialling new flavour, and they have been approached by local businesses to stock their bars and restaurants. The Drivers are also in the process of rebranding their line of drinking and upping production to meet demand from beyond the local area, now shipping all over the UK mainland and available to order from their website right now.
Photo of Driver family by Rebecca Brooker Photography.
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