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why winning Great☆☆Taste means so much 2

Back from the Brink: A Life Lesson in Never Giving Up

by Gary Leigh  Part 2 (Part 1 here)

Mulling over how to effectively get back up S**t Creek without a paddle as I dozed off in my hospital bed one humid summer night in early August 2016, I awoke the next morning with the answer ringing loudly in my head.

I promptly phoned around all microbreweries within the Hastings/Bexhill/Battle triangle and in close proximity to our Kombuchery, and within two days found not one but two part-time brewers who could split their time brewing local craft ale with learning the art of Kombucha tea making. This would require near-daily, militarily precise emails sent by phone from my hospital bed listing every step of the process in painstaking detail. Kombucha is not just straightforward brewing; it requires laboratory expertise and precision. Just one misstep in the method or a few grams out in the ingredient calculations and the entire process could collapse, hitting us financially at a critical time and potentially setting the relaunch back months.

I needn’t have worried. New brewers Andy and Paul deftly felt their way through the process, combining their own expertise and knowledge of the brewing and fermentation process to finesse our production, yielding an end product even more finely-attuned and balanced than had been achieved previously. So it was with an overwhelming sense of relief that our return batch of 3000 bottles of Green Sencha and Red Pu erh rolled off the bottling line in mid-September 2016, immediately selling to our loyal and patient online customers to generate the cash flow necessary to forge ahead with larger runs that would see GO! Kombucha returned to shop shelves by the end of November.

“reach for the stars and bounce back!”

Fast forward a year, and the magical synergy that returned the brand to life yielded not only a rapturously received new flavor – GO! Kombucha Darjeeling Black – and exposure in the October 2017 edition of fashion and style Bible Vogue, but an “outstanding” 2-star Great Taste 2017 award; achievements which I unhesitatingly attribute to the renewed sense of purpose and unswerving determination to revive the brand by all concerned, propelling GO! Kombucha to new heights with zest, verve and vigour, undoubtedly also serving to spur my own recovery forward.

That’s why winning two stars in Great Taste 2017 just less than a year after making those pivotal calls – with 10kg of metal fixators still pinned into, and weighing down each of, my lower legs – means so much. Not just to be, finally, recognized by the very best experts in the food industry, but as testimony to the strength of the human spirit, will power, determination and self-belief. That against all possible odds anyone – yes, even me! – can reach for the stars and bounce back from the most debilitating and challenging of circumstances, and to new heights that might otherwise have been unattainable had business proceeded as usual.

Today I am back on my feet doing all the things I ever loved doing – only with more gusto, appreciation and joie de vivre whether it be planning a weekend away, shopping at Aldi, enjoying a double espresso at my local Costa, or simply just being – and activities I was told I would never be physically able to do again (well, perhaps I will be able to run for that bus again, one day…). Part of my self-prescribed rehab has been gym workouts and physio four times a week, and attending many of the wonderful charity-run vegan shows across the country in aid of animal welfare; one of the best tonics that has helped get me back into life’s groove and for which I will always be grateful for (thanks Victoria!).

It required the hardest of falls to earth to slow down and smell the roses. I’d ignored all warning signs leading up to it and, in retrospect, a great jolt was necessary to make me take stock and propel life forward. If the Universe is trying to make you slow down or change track, don’t ignore the warning signs, trust your gut instinct. I didn’t, again and again, and learned the hardest way possible, but nonetheless am grateful for the experience and valuable life lesson learned along the way.

War wounds and all!

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