As a former chef and major foodie, Pilot Kombucha founder Alex Ingalls understands not wanting to sacrifice indulgences in order to feel healthy and energized. It was actually her experience searching for a solution for her own health concerns that led to the creation of her company.
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage noted for its high content of probiotic bacteria, which have been shown to be helpful for supporting a healthy gut microbiome, a key component in overall wellness, as well as other health-promoting compounds like polyphenols, minerals, B-vitamins, and organic acids. Ingalls started brewing her own to aid her digestion after decadent meals and nights out partying, and eventually began selling her creative flavors to local markets. Here, she shares what she’s learned about how taking care of yourself is important for your business.
Cording: When did you decide to make your home brew into a business?
Ingalls: It was actually a chef I was working under, who I’m now close friends with, Lupin. She grew up on a commune in Northern California being forced to drink 80s-style homebrew that her mom was making so it took a long time to even convince her to try my stuff! She eventually did and it blew her mind that kombucha didn’t have to be super vinegary. She knew I had big dreams of starting my own business and told me she thought I was onto something with the kombucha. If I could convert her, I could convert anyone!
Cording: Where do you get recipe inspiration?
Ingalls: I draw inspiration from everywhere! Cookbooks (the Pomegranate Rose flavor), travel (Lavender Peach), tweaking friends’ homebrew recipes (Grapefruit Mint), sometimes even friend’s health needs (Turmeric Aloe).
Cording: What do you believe is the connection between your health and the health of your business?
Ingalls: What I’ve been observing lately is how my meditation and yoga practice (or lack of, depending on the week!) affects the culture of the business and how important it is to create a “culture of calm.” I’ve definitely noticed that when I’m calm and relaxed and the sense of urgency is dialed back a bit, so it is for everyone else. It makes for better decision-making and allows for more careful planning, which ultimately is better for the business and my mental health. It’s hard to find the time but I when I do, the difference is palpable.
Cording: What are your self-care essentials?
Ingalls: I absolutely couldn’t live without the Headspace meditation app, NY Times Crossword Puzzle app, CBD lollipops, Resilience Turmeric Elixir, and the Pilot mascot, Avi, short for Aviator – the big kitty I found at the warehouse last fall and brought him home. He has become my therapy cat. He snuggles on my lap every morning while I have my coffee and do the crossword and helps me relax at the end of the day.
Cording: Are there any self-care lessons you’ve learned in the process of growing your own business?
Ingalls: Prioritize it — no excuses. Letting it lapse leads to poor customer service, poor decision making, and knee-jerk reactions. When it’s hard to find time for it is probably when you need it most so get it on the calendar and schedule around it if you have to.
Cording: Is there anything you wish you had known when you were starting or advice you’d offer?
Ingalls: Ask for help before you need it and ask everyone — you never know who’s listening, and you just might run into an angel.