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Why and How Chris McCoy of Kombucha Town Decided To Change Our World

Kombucha Town was founded on the vision of creating beverages for a better world. This means that everything we produce will help people live healthier happier lives. In the last few years we have gone above and beyond to also support environmental preservation by obtaining 1% for the Planet, Fair Trade Organization, and USDA Organic […]

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Kombucha Town was founded on the vision of creating beverages for a better world. This means that everything we produce will help people live healthier happier lives. In the last few years we have gone above and beyond to also support environmental preservation by obtaining 1% for the Planet, Fair Trade Organization, and USDA Organic certifications. In April 2020 we partnered with One Tree Planted so that a tree is planted for every case we sell online. We are also planting additional trees as a part of our Start Engine equity crowdfunding campaign.

Aspart of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris McCoy.

Chris McCoy became passionate about healthy living and the environment following his father’s death from brain cancer in 2008 and the need to become the primary caregiver for his mother due to early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2011. While studying environmental science at Western Washington University, Chris found his passion to create a healthy and environmentally friendly beverage company. Since founding Kombucha Town in September 2011, Chris has become an expert in the Kombucha industry. Kombucha Town is a founding member of Kombucha Brewers International.

It is Chris’s passion and vision to bring refreshing, healthy products to as many people as possible and help foster a healthier, happier world!

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

Igrew up on a cattle ranch in rural Southwest Colorado. Just outside of Telluride, CO at 8600 ft elevation. My family lived in a small solar cabin five miles from Ridgway CO, a town of 500 people. It was an amazing place at the base of the Colorado Rockies. I believe growing up in such a beautiful place is what has really formed my passion for the environment.

You are currently leading a social impact organization that is making a difference for our planet. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?

Kombucha Town was founded on the vision of creating beverages for a better world. This means that everything we produce will help people live healthier happier lives. In the last few years we have gone above and beyond to also support environmental preservation by obtaining 1% for the Planet, Fair Trade Organization, and USDA Organic certifications. In April 2020 we partnered with One Tree Planted so that a tree is planted for every case we sell online. We are also planting additional trees as a part of our Start Engine equity crowdfunding campaign.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

My Inspiration came from being so lucky as to grow up in very naturally beautiful places. Another huge factor was experiencing the death and disability of my parents as a young adult. This made me passionate about health and wellness, dedicating my career to creating healthy options for people in a grossly toxic industrial food system.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

The final trigger for me was in spring 2011 when I was trying to work full time and support my mother with early-onset Alzheimer’s, I realized that It was impossible. With that, I knew I had to create an opportunity to work for myself. Starting a business gave me the flexibility and economic opportunity to become the head of my household at a young age and support my mother through her condition.

Many people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?

I looked to others that had done what I wanted to do, I got expert advice from the Small Business Development Council and other business owners. I employed the help of friends and family that believed in me and together we were able to build enough traction to create great products and a viable business model.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

I had tried to meet with a successful entrepreneur that I idolized for over two years with no luck. Then one day his former employee who had applied to work for Kombucha Told me that he had recently moved from Brooklyn, NY to Bellingham, WA and he frequented our tap house. I was flabbergasted at the slim chances of such a coincidence. Shortly after we met and have since become very good friends!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?

I was doing dome “R&D” and took a hot bath in very concentrated Kombucha. I’m pretty sure I hallucinated a little bit. It felt very purifying but was much more intense than anticipated.

What I learned from that experience is to start with small tests and incrementally work your way up to get the optimal experience. Going big right out of the gate can lead to biting off or “soaking off” more than feels right.

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

In the first few years, my mother was by far the biggest cheerleader and the top source of inspiration for me to build a successful business. She was able to pitch in and help with simple tasks also allowing us to spend a lot of invaluable time together at the end of her functional years. It was both heartbreaking but beautiful in its own way. She has been in an adult family home without much comprehension for almost four years now.

More recently my friends, family, and trusted advisors have been my primary support of inspiration and dedication along with my trusted dog Miles. I have also been in a committed relationship for the last four years and we have an 18-month-old son, Orion Baker McCoy. Fatherhood has been a profound new source of meaning and inspiration in my personal life and my work as well. I feel driven to create a legacy my family will be proud of.

Are there three things the community, society, or politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

The community can support small, mission driven companies to give them the opportunities to succeed, grow and add value to the community. This can be done thought grants, incentives and subsidies to help reduce the risk of starting and operating a new venture.

“Society” needs to wake up and start making more conscious buying decisions about what they put into their bodies. In a highly manipulated economic and political country the best way to effect change is to spend money on products that are good for you, the community, and the environment. It’s every individual’s responsibility to inform themselves about what they consume and the impacts products have on their bodies and the planet.

Politicians need to figure out a way to construct a government that represents the needs of the people and the environment. Decades of gross corruption and fraud have left our political system in shambles and quite frankly is quickly causing the United States to lose its status as the world’s moral, intellectual, and economic leader.

How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or an example?

We build environmental sustainability into every aspect of our business. The most current and relevant example of this is that we are raising funds to be able to go to printed cans for our new “Live Seltzer” Product line. We currently have to use sleaved cans because we don’t have the available resources to meet the full truckload minimum on printed cans. The sleave is a plastic label which is not recyclable and leads to increased waste. This type of packaging is almost three times as expensive as well. By going to printed cans we can reduce both our costs and the environmental impact of our products!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

“Be wary of buying the cheapest option”

I have purchased cheap equipment before and it ends up costing more in maintenance, waste, and headaches than it would have to get a higher quality more expensive option.

“Be wary of salespeople telling you what you want to hear.”

I have hired people that say the right things but don’t act to back them up.

“Save more than you think you will need for a rainy day.”

I have been in situations where I do not have enough resources to cover my liabilities and it leads to difficult and inefficient operations.

“Prioritize your health over progress”

I have worked so much in the past that I have become very burned out and suffered physically and mentally to the point that I cannot be productive.

“Be careful not to grow yourself out of business”

My business has grown too fast at times to where the profits from doing business cannot keep up with the cash demands of growth. This can put you in a very dangerous position.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Personally, I find great purpose and satisfaction doing something that I know has a positive impact on both people and the planet. It is not the quickest easiest way to make money or gain material wealth. However, the family and community that I have found on a more mission-driven path are more valuable than any amount of wealth or possessions. Earlier in life, I tried to just make as much money as possible, my relationship was meaningless and I was not happy. Having a purpose, gratitude and humility have been the best pursuits I have found in my short time on this earth.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Gandhi’s famous quote “Be the change you want to see in the world” is my favorite. In hard times when I didn’t know what to do this has always rung true and kept me on a path of truth, intention, and integrity.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I am inspired by his relentless dedication to hard work and community service, especially coming from humble beginnings. His constant expression of gratitude and humility are core values that I strive to embody every day. I also have a strong affinity and respect for the authentic Hawaiian lifestyle and the occasional delicious Margherita.

How can our readers follow you online?

Check out my company at www.KombuchaTown.com, on social @KombuchaTown, or follow me personally on LinkedIn Facebook or Instagram @SanJuanCowboy

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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