When Jeannine Buscher and Sarah Schomber met in September 2008, they shared two main things in common: the desire to have their children home-schooled and their love for making home-brewed kombucha, an ancient cultured health tonic revered as "the Elixir of Life."
So they talked, joined a home school co-op and started crafting Buchi in Jeannine’s kitchen using organic tea, organic sugar and fresh mountain water.
“We started out by brewing Buchi in gallon jars and selling it in 12-ounce amber bottles at local farmers’ markets and to businesses like Rosetta’s Kitchen and French Broad Food Co-op,” says Buscher.
'The Buchi Mamas' find space & resources at Blue Ridge Food Ventures
After one year, demand was so great that the burgeoning entrepreneurs, now known locally as The Buchi Mamas, had to find some place bigger for their operation.
“We had heard from quite a few people about the amazing resources available at Blue Ridge Food Ventures. Starting in January 2009, they provided us with the space we desperately needed, gave us excellent business advice and helped us get Buchi into establishments in Asheville.”
After a year at Blue Ridge Food Ventures, The Buchi Mamas were ready to expand – again.
The Advantage Opportunity Fund helps Buchi expand again
Schomber and Buscher spent six months outfitting a 6,800 sq. ft. space in beautiful Reems Creek to create the first, female-owned, eco-conscious tea brewery and bottling facility in the Southeast.
A bridge loan from AdvantageWest's Advantage Opportunity Fund enabled them to buy equipment to use in their new facility to meet the always increasing demand.
“Thanks to Blue Ridge Food Ventures we were able to keep producing and bottling Buchi while we built our new home,” says Buscher. “Without an incubator like Blue Ridge Food Ventures we would have lost all of our incredible momentum.”
In June 2010, The Buchi Mamas and their part-time staff moved into their new digs, increasing sales from $20,000 in 2009 to $161,841 in 2010, making it one of Asheville’s fastest growing companies.
Buchi can be found at local retailers all over the Southeast, including Whole Foods/Greenlife and Earth Fare and in dozens of local Asheville restaurants and cafes in bottles or on tap.
Success thanks to AdvantageWest & Blue Ridge Food Ventures
“Buchi’s success is a team effort,” says Schomber. “Jeannine and I couldn’t do this without the dedication of our staff and the constant support of our family members and the entire Asheville community, including organizations like AdvantageWest. People love Buchi and we love making it here in Western North Carolina."
For more information, visit drinkbuchi.com.