Wanna go behind the bubbles of the recyclable cans of kombucha on our milkround? We sat down with Head of Marketing at Equinox Kombucha, Genevieve Boast, to learn everything from the health benefits of their sustainable bucha range to how her business goes beyond for the planet.
Hi Gen! Before we start, can you please introduce yourself?
Gen: I’m Gen. I currently work for Equinox Kombucha, but my background is actually media and I’ve spent 15 years being a sustainability consultant. So, I’ve been in this world of B Corp for a very long time and worked with businesses all over the world, which is one of the reasons I love B Corp. Equinox certified back in 2020 in the middle of the pandemic, which was a really interesting process.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is fermented, fruity, fizzy drink that’s considered an ancient health beverage – It’s thought to have originated back in in Asia, primarily in Japan & China. There’s even a rumour that samurais drank it before they went into battle.
It’s a fermented green tea originally (we use Chun Mee Green Tea) that has a SCOBY in it much like Apple Cider Vinegar with ‘the mother’. SCOBY stands for a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. So, it’s a living drink, effectively. The magic happens when you consume it. It literally goes into your gut microbiome and helps to feed all of the good bacteria in there.
What are the benefits of Kombucha?
We now know from all the gut health research that if you have a healthy gut, you have a healthy brain and your mental health is better. This is something we spend a lot of time on at Equinox because one of our passions is actually proving what Kombucha is good for.
We actually do a lot of work with our customers asking them to drink one of our kombucha’s every day for 14 Days and let us know how they feel at the end of this. It’s really interesting in that many of them report tangible health benefits both physically and mentally after taking the challenge.
Recently there has been a rise in the amount of research linked to Gut Health and we know that it is linked to a whole range of health benefits. When we first started brewing kombucha in 2012, it was relatively unknown in the UK. Our two founders came back from Asia bringing some kombucha cultures in their backpacks and literally started brewing in their kitchen in Hebden Bridge. Our company expanded and grew from there.
Awareness of kombucha has only started to get motoring in the last three to four years in the UK. We like to think we’re at the start of a wave of something that’s quite big in terms of multi-functional health. The last few years that we’ve all lived through has really accentuated that with the pandemic and as a result, people becoming increasingly interested in immunity and foods / drinks have a tangible health benefit to them.
So, we should think of kombucha as a healthy little pick-me-up?
Kombucha has a well-deserved reputation for working wonders on the mind and body. It’s why it’s developed the nickname ‘Tea of Immortality’. And while we can’t guarantee immortality, it’ll certainly leave you feeling wonderfully revitalised.
If you’re looking to add probiotics to your diet, kombucha can help to boost your digestive health, immunity and your nutrient absorption by increasing the biodiversity in your microbiome. The greater your gut biodiversity, the better your health. Healthy body, healthy mind, healthy booch, as we like to say.
How do you make kombucha?
Kombucha is made by brewing tea, sugar and the living SCOBY together. These ingredients are left to ferment for around a month, leaving it to produce lots of healthy probiotics, antioxidants, amino acids and more. The end result is a delicious, naturally fizzy drink, full of the good stuff.
At Equinox Kombucha, we always use certified organic ingredients and keep our kombucha raw and unpasteurised – so that we keep in all of the gut friendly bacteria. We never use anything artificial because we don’t like our drinks to contain any nasties!
Where did the name Equinox Kombucha come from?
We were named after the Equinox, which happens twice a year Spring and Autumn. It is the day where we have an equal amount of light and dark so for us it’s always been about creating inner and outer balance and harmony.
How did you certify as a B Corp?
Back in 2018 when I started in the business, we were doing all the good stuff with sustainability that we could but no one was tracking it, no one was measuring it, and no one was documenting it.
When we decided to become a B Corp, I went through every bit of our business with our staff, with key investors, with our community and just systematised it. But the amazing thing that did was give us an opportunity to innovate and improve our processes at the same time.
So going through the rigorous B Corp assessment cycle really helped us as a business to better understand where we were and where we could make more of an impact as an ethical business.
We finally certified in September 2020, which was incredible given the social situation with the pandemic. It gave us a real opportunity to talk about things differently with our customers and why B Corp actually mattered. It wasn’t just another tick in the box, which was really powerful.
Why did you want to be a B Crop?
I think as a small business we realised we would never make huge change on our own. So our whole mantra has been who can we link arms with and work with to communicate sustainable values. How can we amplify each other’s messages so more people pay attention. It’s really about business as a force for good and evolutionary ethical businesses doing new things that are really exciting. These are the stories that we found have real cut through with people because let’s face it, they’re just bored of the same sustainability messages. The question is how do we actually say something that’s meaningful to people?
Why do you think the number of B Corps is increasing?
I think we’re now in a very unique position as a UK society. People’s choices are changing. The products they choose to buy, the companies they choose to buy from, and the impact these have not just to their own health but to the wider health of society and ecosystems.
So, at Equinox, we try and do a lot of stuff that’s engaging and educational without being preachy. We try to tell real stories about what’s happening around us in our local ecosystem that hopefully will resonate with lots of different people. And the story is not just about B Corp, it’s about how we are operating as a responsible business in increasingly challenging times. It’s almost like when you start the B Corp journey, you should ask, OK, how do we go beyond it?
How did you get where you are today?
We’re still quite small as a company even though people don’t really think it! We’ve got a team of 25-30 people now and we do everything ourselves from brewing to bottling and canning. We don’t outsource anything.
Equinox Kombucha was born in 2012 and all we had was a purple clapped out camper van that we sold our kombucha out of that nobody ever knew if it was going to make it to and from a trade show! In 2016 we got some investment from the Grocery Accelerator and that allowed us to build our first brewery.
After the brewery we built our first bottling line and it kind of grew from there. In 2017, we were the first kombucha to be listed in Waitrose and we’re still the only Kombucha brand in Waitrose in chilled which is amazing and we do really well in that particular retail channel.
How have you found growing a business that’s not HQ’d in London?
Yeah, it’s interesting that one, isn’t it? I I think it’s kind of funny that Calderdale where we are based has recently been put back on the map. Happy valley, anyone?
There’s always the London barrier, right, especially when it comes to things like shows, events, sponsorships, but there’s a way around it.
I have actually found in the last three years is there’s more innovation outside of London in the B Corp community. I think we’re much more likely to get together and collaborate.
Whereas in London I found it was much harder to break into those circles.
People are now starting to move out of London, aren’t they? And, coming up here so I think we are going to see a lot more activity in the North in the coming years around B Corp and innovation in general.
Check out Equinox here: https://equinoxkombucha.com/
Equinox believes in making delicious, organic drinks that are good for the body, the mind and the soul.
Our goal is to lead the European kombucha market with the very best organic, sustainable Kombucha produced from our BRC AA factory in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire.
Why is Equinox a B Corp?
Our company was founded on sustainable principles such as organic food production, health education and community investment. Ethics and community are at the heart of everything that we do and this underlying belief in harnessing business as a force for good is the foundation upon which we base all our partnerships and future product development.
In 2019 after extensive consultation with our employees and shareholders, we decided to certify as a B Corp, something that has supported the integration of sustainable values and ethics into the DNA of the company ecosystem. The B Corp Impact certification helps us to think deeply about every aspect of our vision and tactical strategy from the way we manage and govern, to our people processes and practices, our environmental management systems and our community and customer engagement strategies. It provides a framework to innovate and evolve as a sustainable manufacturing business and access to the fastest growing global ethical business network around today!
Found yourself kombucha curious after out little tete-a-tea with Genevieve? You can grab Equinox Kombucha on our milkround!
Available in Ginger flavour or Raspberry and elderflower, we’ll deliver them straight to your doorstep in recyclable cans and cardboard packaging. It’s the best way to fend off toxins from the body and plastic from the planet. Don’t you just love sustainabili-tea!