The next ‘big small’ brand: Kombucha Brooklyn

Picture 7Back in November, we wrote about Rooster Design Group’s “Next BIG Small Brand” contest to find the next big artisanal food, drink or other culinary concept. In all, 140 aproned creators from the tri-state area and beyond  submitted foods, drinks and even pet treats for a chance to win a full-force branding campaign from the SOHO-based design group. The winner was announced Tuesday, and it’s the Brooklyn-based, future brewing empire, Kombucha Brooklyn

Kombucha, for the uninitiated, is a Chinese fermented tea that’s been used medicinally for 2,000 years. The drink’s a mixture of green or black tea, sugar and a culture of live bacteria and yeast. These days you can find it under many labels: Wonder Drink, Carpe Diem, Yogi Tea (regular, decaf or with triple Echinacea) and, of course, Kombucha Brooklyn.

Kombucha Brooklyn was started early last year by Kombucha-brewing veteran Eric Childs and his new Kombucha-fan of a business partner, Rick Miller. Childs had been perfecting his version of the tea since 2007 when he swore off over-the-counter medicines and looked toward alternative healing for minor ailments like colds and headaches. He ordered a Kombucha SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) from the West Coast and began brewing the tea from his Williamsburg apartment (the partners since upgraded to an office in Greenpoint and a shared kitchen, and they’re looking for an even bigger production facility now).

A Kombucha Brooklyn home brewing kit

A Kombucha Brooklyn home brewing kit

Childs’ and Miller’s Kombucha—a sweet tea with a “detoxifying energy”—already is sold online and at a few food stores around Brooklyn, but Childs hopes the prize—which includes a logo, packaging and web-design help, will help the fledgling company turn a profit.

Right now, Childs works at a wine bar, and Miller at a restaurant, but “hopefully we’ll be able to make money for ourselves quickly, and actually support ourselves with [the business],” Childs says. The Rooster Group’s client list includes the likes of Bryant Park Corporation, IFC Entertainment and iCi Restaurant.

So with 140 entries, what put Kombucha Brooklyn over the top? “There was something about Eric that was intoxicating. He’s so passionate about it that you can see he’ll be successful,” says Fernando Music, a partner with Rooster Group.  “[Eric’s] got a good idea of what the company stands for and is ready to scale up, which clear brand communications will support.” Plus, the Rooster Design office had been on an “insane Kombucha kick” about a year before (but it wasn’t Childs’ and Miller’s stuff).

Now the pros at Rooster will start on the new Kombucha Brooklyn, and Childs and Miller will continue looking for their next home—maybe somewhere in Red Hook, Childs says. “We definitely want to be in Brooklyn. That’s where it’s at, right?”