Next-up in my Inspire Series is the amazing founder and creator of Hanora Health. I caught-up with Ross to talk all-things starting a business, the creative process and of course Kombucha!
Tell me a little bit about yourself and Hanora Health
Sure, I was born and raised in Zimbabwe where I lived for 14 years. Following this we moved to Malawi for 2 years and finally we arrived in the UK in 2003. This is where I finished off my schooling and studied Sports and Exercise Science at the University of Bedfordshire. Following completion of my degree I managed to land a job in my field. I started as a graduate scientist testing sweat and saliva for our GB athletes ahead of the 2012 Olympics. I know it sounds gross but it was an integral piece of work that allowed the athletes to monitor their training load and hydration. I spent 9 years at this company wearing many different hats but finishing off as a Business Development Manager selling a quality assurance testing programme with the initiative of preventing what is called inadvertent doping through supplementation (accidental doping). The programme is called Informed-Sport which is globally recognised within the supplement sector. During my time at work I gained further qualifications in Nutrition which is a huge passion of mine. I was also part of the GB Bobsleigh development squad ahead of the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics. Sadly things didn’t work out due to injuries and other athletes coming through the ranks but it was such an unbelievable experience.
With regards to Hanora Health, this was launched out of need to provide better food products and education in order to ensure you live your best life. Hanora is a play on the maori term Hauora which is a health and wellbeing philosophy that encompasses four dimensions. Physical Well-being – health, Mental and Emotional well-being – self-confidence, Social Well-being – self-esteem and Spiritual well-being – personal beliefs. To me ‘health’ is all encompassing and we need to tackle it in a wholesome approach rather than just focusing on just one aspect i.e. food/nutrition.
For anyone new to the world of Kombucha, what is it and how did you hone the delicate craft of brewing/creating your own?
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage, made by adding a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) to a solution of tea and sugar. During the course of the week-long (or more) fermentation process, the cultures metabolize the sugar and tea components to render a naturally carbonated beverage, with a slightly sweet-tart flavour, full of healthy components like B vitamins, organic acids, antioxidants and bacteria/yeast. Making you happy from the inside out! all with that added bonus of it tasting so darn good!
I discovered Kombucha on my travels to the USA, South Africa and Australia. I returned back to the UK and considered going on a course however what better way to learn than actually doing! I bought a number of books, studied many articles online and started brewing Kombucha in 2 litre pickling jars. The first batches were horrible as I experimented with different teas and sugars. My family and friends were far too polite! However after many many trials and errors I managed to find my groove. I settled on a combination of Green and White Tea along with a Demerara sugar which provides a good base to flavour off. Today I am still learning and perfecting my craft, spending time with other similar businesses like local beer breweries, reaching out to other kombucha brands is all proving useful and helpful.
Your flavour combinations are delicious, what’s your inspiration for them and how long is the process from initial idea to bottling?
Ah thanks so much Holly! To be honest there isn’t a huge amount of inspiration for the flavours themselves. However the pineapple flavour was born from a conversation with a friend in South Africa when I told them I was about to embark on making and selling kombucha. They suggested I tried Pineapple as it works really well and they were right! The Ginger and Lemon is a solid flavour and one of my favourites which I know a lot of people gravitate too if they haven’t tried kombucha before.
With regards to the process it does vary but the initial fermentation will take anywhere between 10-20 days. Following this I flavour with real fruit and that takes an additional 3-5 days. Once complete I remove the chunks of fruit and bottle the kombucha.
What does a typical day at Hanora Health HQ look like?
Well I actually work full time alongside Hanora so I will head to my office job from 8-4:30 Monday to Friday. The evenings and weekends are where I will normally carry out the tasks for Hanora so that’s emailing, packing up orders, planning content, fermenting, bottling, labelling, marketing etc.
Do you have a creative background and did you have input into the design of your beautiful packaging?
That’s very kind of you to say Holly! To answer that question I do have a creative background however I consulted with a design agency to create my branding. We spent a long time creating pinterest boards, talking in person and over the phone until we were both happy with the outcome of the work.
What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking about embarking on starting their own business?
You know what just go for it, you have nothing to lose and in this day and age getting something off the ground is relatively easy in comparison to yesteryear. You will learn so much and if you are employed your employer will benefit from your experience as well. However I will say the best gift you can give your idea is patience. There will be hard times but there will be great times!
What one piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
I would say believe in yourself and don’t let your inner voice have too much air time.
It must feel amazing to see your delicious kombucha blends on shelves, how do you stay driven if you hit a bump in the road?
You know what it is actually so incredible to just hold a product that I have been responsible for making and to know its going to benefit someone from a health perspective and their support will in turn help others through the Foundation that is attached to the brand. For me it is looking at the bigger picture, I set up Hanora to be a vehicle for good and positive change. If it was purely monetary then there will be no mileage in it and as soon as the hard times came I would probably turn my back on it. I am in this for the long run and I am looking forward to having you all on this journey with me.
What’s your best tip for relaxing after a busy day?
Exercise is really important to me and I try to at least exercise a minimum of 3 days/week. I would prefer to exercise 5-6 days/week but that is not always achievable. This allows me to clear my mind, sleep better and just switch off following a hard day. However as Hanora is something that is worked on in the evenings and weekends I do sometimes find it hard to relax and switch off.
What’s your vision for the future of Hanora Health?
Hanora Health is going to be a vehicle for positive change. I hope to develop my Kombucha and Water Kefir ranges. I would like to have a tap room which will serve as an inspirational space where people can come and hang out and nourish their bodies with amazing food, drinks and other incredible people.
Thank you so much Ross for being a part of my Inspire Series, it’s wonderful to see your business thriving and this will inspire many people, I am sure.
That’s a wrap! If you’d like to be featured in my Inspire Series, get in-touch!
See you soon for the next instalment!
All my love and encouragement,