We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachael Walker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachael, we’d love to hear what makes you happy.
There are so many things in life that make me happy. Living in Fort Collins, Colorado and having the mountains in my back yard makes me extremely happy. Nourishing and maintaining the close relationships in my life also make me very happy, and I feel so much abundance in this area in my life. My friends and family are everything to me, without their love and support my success with Life’s a Buch would not be possible. In business, so many things bring me happiness. Whether I am brewing kombucha or stocking grocery stores shelves with my product, there is always a smile on my face. Working for yourself definitely comes with many hardships, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The best feeling as a business owner is when a customer tells you “that’s the best kombucha I have ever had in my life!” Connecting with our customers and sharing our healthy, gut-healing drink with our local community brings me all the joy the world.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others? How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Life’s a Buch is a local kombucha company with our roots based in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado. For almost 3 years now, we have provided a healthy, organic brew to our local community with plans to expand into surrounding states in 2021. We are offered in over 45 locations along the Front Range region, including Denver, Boulder, Longmont, and of course Fort Collins. We use organic, local ingredients and a local, ethically sourced tea based out of Denver. Our flavor profile is described as light and crisp with a light carbonation, which is what really sets us apart from other kombucha companies. A lot of people are deterred from drinking kombucha as it has the reputation of being pungent and vinegary. I like to tell customers that 9 out of 10 people who don’t like kombucha, love ours. We use half the amount of sugar that the “normal” kombucha recipe calls for, which is what helps contributes to our mild, yet flavorful taste. My journey with the Natural Foods industry started almost 10 years ago when I started working for Whole Foods Market. It was at Whole Foods when I was first introduced to kombucha and quickly fell in love with it. Not only was it delicious and low in sugar, but I found that when I consistently drank it, my acid-reflux almost completely went away. I struggled with acid reflux for years, and spent countless hours at the doctor’s office having multiple procedures done, none of them which were successful. It was when I started drinking kombucha every day, that I noticed a change in my health. It became clear to me that this weird drink was something that I needed to heal myself and my gut. I quickly started brewing kombucha in my basement apartment which is where Life’s a Buch came to life. Being in management at Whole Foods, I realized that my inconsistent work schedule would not allow me to start and be successful in my business. After 6 years with the company, I accepted a new position as a Natural Foods Sales Representative with a nation-wide company called Basemakers. It was there that I truly learned the ins and outs of what it takes to be a successful brand. I was able to work side by side with many store managers, some that I still work with in my business today. I learned a lot about what it takes to be a successful saleswoman in a very saturated market. I also learned that the power of relationships will take you far in life, which is something that I really contribute my success to. I worked with Basemakers for a year before I left to take on Life’s a Buch full-time. Starting and maintaining a beverage manufacturing business is no easy task. A big challenge is having to find multiple distributors to supply tools for the business. Whether it be packaging, ingredients, or brewing equipment, the industry is always changing so it has been a challenge to find certain items that we need consistently. We started brewing in 2018 in a local commissary kitchen, and after 2 years, I am proud to say we are now in our own production facility! Finding the perfect location to build out a production kitchen was also a challenge, it took us several months to lock-in a space that had everything we needed. Some lessons that I have learned along the way are to be patient and take your time with doing your homework. In the past I have made rush decisions, when I should have taken the time to do more research about certain issues that I was facing. I’ve learned to reach out for help in the areas that I am not savvy in, and also to reach out to other business owners when I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere with a certain buyer, distributor, etc. Being an entrepreneur can be very isolating at times as you are the business and with that comes a lot of stress. Reaching out and developing relationships with other local business owners was crucial to me, and really helped myself and the business grow in ways that I did not see possible.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The first stop on the tour would be Life’s a Buch of course! I love showing my friends and family where we brew and what we do, it makes my heart so full! Hiking Horsetooth Rock would be on the top of the list, it’s a intermediate hike here in Fort Collins where at the top you can see for miles and miles. I am a huge fan of water sports so after our hike, I would take them out on Horsetooth Reservoir to get in the water and kayak or paddle board until dusk arrives, as you really can’t beat sunsets out at Horsetooth. When visiting Fort Collins, visiting our local breweries is a must! With over 40 breweries in the area, you can really make a day out of visiting all the breweries in the area. We would start at my favorite, McClellans Brewing and get a delicious Cream Ale and famous Rueben sandwich. After that I would take us to New Belgium Brewing, as they give the best tours and have a wide-variety of beers that they offer. We would finish out the day at Funkwerks Brewing, where they brew the best sour beers around. If they were visiting during the warmer season, I would take them to the CSU flower garden, which is a great place to bring a picnic and relax with the flowers. I would also take them to my favorite gym in town, Choice City CrossFit, that way we could get some exercise before drinking all that delicious beer!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This might sound very cliche to some, but my mom, above all others, is the number one reason that my business has been so successful. From day one, she has shown nothing but support in me and this journey that I am on. Being a business woman herself, she has taught me so much and has always been my shoulder to cry on. She is by far (sometimes embarrassingly) my number one fan, and I feel so lucky to have her support in my life. My closest friends have also played such a huge role in this business. They are so willing to help me be successful. Whether it be helping to bottle kombucha on long production days, or coming to the Farmer’s Market to give me a break from working the booth, they are always there for me. I truly believe that if you surround yourself with people who build you up, the sky is the limit.
Linkedin: Rachael Walker
Image Credits all go to Miranda Deblauwe