Photo by Vanessa Filley
Tell us about yourself and your business! What do you do or sell?
We sell local, organic kombucha.
From Wikipedia: What is Kombucha? Kombucha is a fermented, contains trace amounts of alcohol (up to 0.5% in Kombucha Brava's case), lightly effervescent, sweetened black or green tea drink commonly intended as a functional beverage for its supposed health benefits. Sometimes the beverage is called kombucha tea to distinguish the name from the kombucha culture of bacteria and yeast.
717 Custer Ave
Evanston, IL 60202
Why did you start this business? If you were a superhero, what would your origin story be?
We went on a mid-life adventure and radically changed our lives and careers. In 2016 we incorporated our business and worked tirelessly to open the first Kombucha brewery in Evanston!
From The Daily Northwestern: Sant’Anna said Kombucha Brava began as a shared hobby between her and Skites. After pursuing separate careers and raising two children, they came to the realization that they were “not young chicks anymore,” she said.
“We decided that instead of not wanting to do anything in the next stage of our lives, it would be fun to do something that we both loved,” Sant’Anna said. “We started drinking kombucha, and we started liking the feel of kombucha in our bodies, and then we thought, ‘Hey, maybe we can do this together.’”
Sant’Anna said she and Skites experimented with several kombucha recipes at the beginning of their operation. Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage made with SCOBY, or a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. As they worked to grow their SCOBY and perfect the fermentation process, they initially donated batches of kombucha to friends and local events, she said.
Eventually, Sant’Anna and Skites realized their kombucha might appeal to customers outside of their social circle, Sant’Anna said. They moved production from their home to a building on Custer Avenue, and began selling kombucha at the Evanston farmers market this May.
After gaining traction at the farmers market, Sant’Anna said she and her husband, Douglas Skites, decided to open a taproom in their production space on Custer Avenue. The taproom opened in mid-July.
What's the story behind the name of your business?
Brava: "used interjectionally in applauding a woman." In Portugese it also means "full of courage and undomesticated." In a sense it captures the spirit of both the SCOBYs (synbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and women in this country today.
Tell us the story of selecting your location.
Our friend Steve offered us his special space so we could pilot the brewery. It evolved from there with much effort , investment, collaboration and dust.
Even outside of their production network, she and her husband have felt welcomed and supported by the wider Evanston business community, Sant’Anna said.
“I feel like we entered this sisterhood of businesses,” Sant’Anna said. “There’s this underlying understanding between all the businesses here of how hard it is to open a business … It’s quite lovely.”
What sets your business apart from others that sell the same products?
We are your local kombucha makers. We ferment our kombucha in oak barrels. We make it with love and organic ingredients. We hope you enjoy our kombucha as much as we enjoy making it for you!
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business?
Go forward! Just know that in order to open a business you will spend extraordinary amounts of time and energy, specially if you have never done it before. We fondly remember our initial meeting with the city officials when we presented them with hand drawn plans. We had a ways to go...
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