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Alex Glenday is the managing director of Brew Kombucha, a proudly South African, female-led producer of rooibos tea kombucha. In fact, Brew Kombucha is the first and only provider of certified organic kombucha in SA!

Alex believes in placing the environment at the forefront of every business decision. She chats to Go Hustle writer Ondela Mlandu about what it takes to run an ethical, sustainability-focused kombucha brewery – and shares valuable advice for self-starters…

 

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The concept, brew…

Brew’s founding concept is to care for the planet. “I started the company because I wanted to do something against the grain – something with meaning,” says Alex. “I’m passionate about making a positive impact on people and on the natural environment.”

Of critical importance when Alex started Brew was making sure her brand had drive beyond the product and beyond profit. “Ultimately, the environment is what supports all social and economic success. It needs to be considered first,” she says.

 

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Don’t do something that’s already being done!

“Do lots of research [on the business],” says Alex. If you don’t, you could compromise yourself and the people already doing it. Unless you know there’s space for more of the same, look for something different to give you that edge. Ask yourself truly: What will my unique selling points be?

READ MORE: Hirsch’s Homestores Executive Director Dishes Her Secrets To Success

Equip yourself with the right info

“When I started out, I had no background in entrepreneurship and a totally unrelated degree in psychology and English literature,” says Alex. “To train myself up, I listened to podcasts – and still do! Every time I hop into my car to go somewhere, I put a podcast on for the drive. I’ve listened to over 50 hours of business-focused podcasts with entrepreneurs and opinion leaders. It’s a really great way to understand why and how people build businesses and what their exit strategies were. I recommend listening to people in the industry, reading about their stories and asking questions if you can.”

 

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So, what’s it like being a woman in the brewing industry?

“Starting a business in my twenties in the brewing industry, which is hugely male-dominated, I found myself in a few amusing, sometimes frustrating, situations,” says Alex. “For example, I’d go to a warehouse that sells beer-dispensing equipment and speak to the guy at the front and he would ask if I was looking for the cosmetics shop next door. I had to convince him that, no, I’m in the right place – I need dispensing equipment.”

She faced these challenges with good humour, and by getting back up whenever she was knocked down. “My background as a model helped – in the fashion industry, I was constantly being analysed and rejected. All those things forced me to build a tough skin and empowered me to become confident in myself,” she says.

READ MORE: How To Crack It In The Marketing And Communications Space

Words from the wise: advice for self-starters…

As an entrepreneur, taking risks helps you to figure out what works and what doesn’t. “While this is a little scary, it gives you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. When you start out as an entrepreneur, you never really know what you’re getting yourself into – although that’s half the fun of it,” quips Alex.

“Another important aspect of success is that you’ve got to be able to go ahead and do things without necessarily having the right experience or qualification – it comes down to having the confidence to trust yourself and your vision,” she says.

Running a business is like being in a relationship, she says – as long as there are fewer bad days than good days, you’re doing it right.

 

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A book every woman should read?

Alex recommends Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard and The Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Connect with Brew Kombucha

Follow Brew Kombucha’s at @brewkombucha (Facebook and Instagram).

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