This week we have Ellen from @sparkkombucha ! I feel particularly connected to Ellen's story because like me she built her company completely by herself!! Which I'll tell ya right now, with any hands-on business is extra hard work! After moving to Whistler and living the full "whistler experience" of "work, snowboard, sleep repeat for years she got bored of that and hit the books and started studying part-time, which then lead to landing a cozy office job at the Muni. After living that office 9-5 life for a while Ellen felt driven to shake things up again. So while working full-time she started brewing kombucha for herself and friends as a hobby, but growing demand and appreciation for her booch brewing skills lead to her slinging kombucha every weekend at the Farmers markets, balancing her full-time Monday - Friday office job with late nights kombucha brewing and weekends slinging booch at markets. In other words - she. was. hustling! After a bunch of breweries, cafes and restaurants expressed interest in selling her Kombucha on tap she knew it was time to take a leap of faith and make this her full-time gig. Ellen is a pioneer in BC for Kombucha on tap and is known as the "kombucha queen" Despite paving the way for kombucha brewing, she is always keen to share her knowledge helping other Kombucha start-ups get set up, and teaching even her customers how to brew at home. When not with her Booch, Ellen can be found hanging out with her beloved Pooch Rufus.
Here is our chat with her.
1. Where’d you grow up and where do you live now?
Born in TO Ontario. Grew up there and various surrounding burbs…oddly always near train tracks. Still live near train tracks but in Squamish now.
2. What is your definition of strength?
Surrender. In my experience, it’s been a powerful moment when I can accept and release. Whether it be the fear of the unknown, my attachment to a certain outcome, or ideas or constructs I believe to be true - transformation often follows. The beauty of being strong or having strength makes me think of force and control, but surrender is almost the opposite -yet so powerful.
3. What is something that’s important to you now that never used to be?
Feminine Energy and my cultural heritage. At some point, I mistakenly associated negativity with both. Being raised in an old fashioned and kinda chauvinistic way stayed with me for a long time. In my house growing up, if you were a girl - it was a disadvantage to opportunities and value automatically given to boys. But now I embrace feminine energy as strength, a powerful force in nature, a creation vibration and something that we all have regardless of actual gender and if you’re pretty in pink. The experience of being a woman in life (and business) is different too. No better or worse, but it’s important to just acknowledge and honour that. It’s taken some time to embrace my cultural heritage and being the first generation Canadian in my family, I just wanted to be “normal.” As a kid, I kinda felt embarrassed by the cuisine and cultural rituals at home. Now I embrace it as a part of me and in recent years I see things that made me feel embarrassed being accepted and celebrated in mainstream society - you might catch me smirking when I stroll past the kimchi at the health or grocery store because it symbolizes so much to me.
4. How would you describe your style?
Super casual. Flannel shirts, cotton tees, leggings, denim skirts, toques, trucker hats, comfy shoes and usually fanny pack.
5. Favourite food to cook at home?
Anything spicy! I love robust, strong and spicy flavours, but usually have to dial it down - because meals are meant to be shared! I’m kinda obsessed with Korean food right now. Kimchi Fried Rice, Soybean sprout soup, Bi Bim Bap (rice bowls), Japchae (sweet potato glass noodles with assorted veggies) and anything tofu! Korean food traditionally had a lot of veggies and the meat was almost like a garnish, so the dishes are super easy to make vegan - which is the best part!
6. What’re 3 books on your bookshelf?
The Obstacle is the Way - Ryan Holiday, Einsteins Dream - Alan Lightman, Meditations - Marcus Arellius
7. What’s something you want to accomplish in the next year?
Get back into a running routine and participate in a meditation retreat.
8. Tell us something people would find surprising about you.
When I was a kid, I “freed” bunnies into the wild thinking they would have a better life…and I still worry if they ended up ok.
9. Favourite movie?
Equally in different ways: Momentum Generation & Dunkirk…and the Wizard of Oz.
10. How do you want people to remember you?
As someone who deeply cared for them.