Things Have Changed Since The Way Back When of Summer.
Like many small family businesses, Buchi is brimming with creativity and energy, but we are held back by the enormous amount of money required to start a brewery. Despite our seeming success, we need to sell an immense amount of kombucha to cover basic expenses and keep product on the shelves. Most people don't realize our existence is threatened every day by a lack of cash-flow. While we are getting closer to breaking even as the word about our brand spreads, we are not yet profitable. Even though we are working all hours of the day, many of us are not taking a paycheck and the ones who are take just the bare minimum.
The standard course of action for a small business with great potential but not enough money is to take on an investor, so while we weren’t entirely comfortable with the idea, that’s what we tried to do. We found a steely eyed, highly successful investor who initially seemed to be inline with our values and put months into vetting. There was no question he could help make us profitable, but we all worried if we'd be able to keep Buchi's soul. At the time, we didn't see an alternative as we were quickly running out of cash, so we wearily negotiated a deal giving him 1/3 of the company. Shortly before we signed the papers, he tried to leverage our vulnerable position to take a larger percentage and revealed intentions to gain a controlling share of the company. We were conflicted. On the one hand we desperately needed capital so we could continue brewing and paying our staff. On the other, the idea of losing control of our company to a cunning capitalist who would ensure quick growth without holding purpose before profit didn’t work for us. It would mean moving Buchi towards being a big beverage company like Coke and we couldn’t do that.
With heavy hearts we told our brewery staff that as much as we loved them we couldn't afford their salaries anymore. Things looked bleak…but instead of finding paying jobs, Tony and the crew decided to keep working anyway!
We're now working 90+ hour weeks, day and night, bottling by moonlight while our kids sleep on the floor of the brewery. Family and friends have rushed to our rescue, volunteering to babysit and help us bottle. We’ve also started touring across the south east in an old white van named Chewy (complete with a busted window) doing demos and finding new accounts, but since we don't have any money for hotels we've been couch surfing our way across the region. We're calling it the "Sleep On Your Floor Kombucha Tour." All of these efforts combined with the release our our most popular flavor yet, Buchi Water, have finally brought profitability within reach, but we are running out of energy and need your help to make it through.
As you can see, our Indiegogo campaign has taken on new importance since we made the video. While the bottler is still critical to our survival, our need is much broader now. We're putting our story out there to find people who want healthy alternatives alongside the sodas and sports drinks. People who believe in nutritionally dense, sustainable and local foods made by families rather than faceless corporations.
We need to reclaim control of our food sovereignty from the multinational corporations and industrial agro-giants. We believe the best way to do this is by building an infrastructure of regional farms and producers. Supporting Buchi, both here and on the shelves, is using the direct democracy of your dollar to vote for slow food and local economy, and while it might not change everything--it’s a damn good place to start! Please contribute what you can.
What is Kombucha and Who Are You People?
We are Buchi -- a community centered, women owned family business continuing the ancient folk tradition of craft-brewing an ancient elixir called kombucha. Kombucha is a living, probiotic rich, all-natural social beverage fermented from organic black tea and flavored with organic fruits and medicinal herbs. We began brewing kombucha so our families would have a healthy alternative to high fructose corn syrup beverages and caffeine laden energy drinks.
In the past 3 ½ years we have grown into a small group of families and friends who work ceaselessly to build the type of business we always wished existed. We’ve been called “hippy capitalists” and perhaps we are since we believe sustainable businesses can be a driving force for positive change. Our lives have led us each on adventures across the world and to the depths of ourselves, and have now come together on a 180 acre organic farm in the mountains of Asheville, NC. To see what started as a dream between friends manifest into such a beautiful reality has been a life changing journey, and this is only the beginning!
Despite our sizeable growth in production and popularity, we still aren't profitable. (Note to anyone considering starting your own brewery, this is definitely a labor of love!) Almost every cent we make goes right back into scaling up production as we race to brew enough kombucha to meet the growing demand. For a company built around sustainable ideals, our brewing process (only slightly exaggerated in the video) was not sustainable and it became obvious we needed a professional bottling machine. It’s a simple idea with a HUGE price tag, an $80,000 price tag to be specific. We ordered the bottler on faith, trusting in the investor we were working with to come through, but when that fell apart we found ourselves dependent once again on the community who has supported us from the beginning. It has poetic justice afterall, you can’t brew a drink based around the idea of a vibrant symbiotic culture without community. You, dear reader, are the SCOBY spreading across the surface of our dreams.
What We Need & What You Get
We are attempting to raise $10,000 to help pay for the bottler. Recently we walked from a private investor who wanted more of the company than we were willing to give up. As a result, it has left a large hole in our plan to upscale and put Buchi on more shelves. Any extra money we can raise will help offset this setback and allow us to pay Tony and the other brewers their salaries. As a reward for your kindness, we perks ranging from bale tops and growlers to t-shirts, hoodies free Buchi and even a farm dinner at the brewery!
Other Ways You Can Help
We want to unleash the power of DIWO 'Do It With Others' by asking folks to get the word out and make some noise about our campaign. Tell your friends, your kids, the mail person, your hair stylist, church group, circle or hoop; anyone who can help! Even if you can’t give money, share it on social media sites like Facebook or put up a poster. Of course you can always buy Buchi on the shelves at over 175 places across the southeast! Check the Find Buchi section of our website to see where.