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CODE meets Freya Twigden, Fix8

Published 23 March 2020

Following on from our kombucha workshop last month, this week we catch up with founder of Fix8 Freya Twigden. She tells us about how an obsession with kombucha turned into a fully fledged business, the challenges of starting her own venture and the joys of working in the drinks industry.

For those that have never heard of it before, what exactly is kombucha?  

Kombucha is a refreshing fermented tea drink that originated in Asia many years ago, some say as far back as 221BC..! Traditionally, it is made using four ingredients: black tea, sugar, water and a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). The taste of kombucha is very unique: dry like beer, tart like cider and bubbly with a balance of sweetness.  

Why did you decide to start a kombucha brand?  

It stemmed from firstly, my obsession with kombucha, and second a feeling that Kombucha could be much more than a niche health drink but a drink chosen for its nuanced complex (and very enjoyable) taste that you don’t find in soft drinks.  

I also felt the category needed updating. Traditionally, kombucha is coded through design by what it ‘isn’t’: an alternative beer or medicine – I wanted to cut through that and celebrate everything kombucha ‘was’: bright, uplifting, buzzing. With flavours to match, using a combination of a fruit/herb/spice to add some excitement to the more traditional single flavour offerings. I wanted to drink it in the pubs, casual dining spaces, wine bars and at festivals. 

Can you tell us a bit more about Fix8?   

The name Fix8 came about from our ‘fixation’ on kombucha. In a world heavily focussed on ‘negative’ obsession like sugar and social media – we wanted to celebrate the positive obsessions in life that make us feel good – like sports, music and for us, craft brewing kombucha. And that’s exactly what we still are, obsessed! We hand-craft each batch at our Fix8 brewery in South London, with the utmost attention to detail from our head brewer Chris – formerly head of beer at Partizan Brewing – who is equally passionate about fermented drinks, craft brewing (and audiobooks often Harry Potter, blasted through the brewery).

How have you found it setting up your own business?   

The most exhilarating journey I could have embarked on! Exciting, scary, fun, tiring, – each day is full of such a variety of experiences (and emotions). I enjoy being pushed to my limits, which setting up a business certainly does, but it also allows me to learn fast and I’m very grateful for that. 

But truthfully, I couldn’t do this by myself.  We succeed as a team.  I have been hugely blessed with the people on our team. In a good team, everyone is pulling in the same direction whilst bringing something different to the table.  

What are the biggest challenges involved?   

Juggling a list of competing demands! Wearing many hats each day can be a challenge but keeps it fun. One moment I’ll be calculating margins, the next I’m in the cold room packing boxes then I’m off to a private members club to teach a kombucha workshop. There’s certainly a lot of variety to it! 

What tips do you have for those who would like to do the same?  

Be courageous and incessantly curious. There’s a solution for everything sometimes it just takes grit and persistence to find. And of course, be completely passionate about what you do because it’s not always the easiest path but it can be intensely rewarding. 

Who’s been the biggest inspiration on your  career  so far?   

As much as many big names out there inspire me, it’s actually those close to me who have been my biggest inspiration. My family and friends who have all played their part and mucked in and of course consumed copious amounts of kombucha – never not cheering me on.  

What’s the best piece of  advice  you’ve received?   

If you think you can, you’re right. If you think you can’t, you’re also right. 

What’s your favourite flavour of Kombucha?  

Oo this is a tough one. From Fix8 – our strawberry tulsi has to be my current favourite (but I go through phases with each!). Of the kombucha I’ve home-brewed, I love a white tea earl grey – the bergamot shines through and there’s a delicacy in the tea I adore, it’s sophisticated and incredibly refreshing. The best kombucha I’ve ever tasted outside the UK has to be from the Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley California.  

Would you recommend working in the drinks  industry  as a career?  

Absolutely. There’s a lively spirit to working in food and drink. We’re all passionate about our skill, and have a unique craft, opinion or curiosity to bring to the table. There’s a lot of socialising, which means we are consistently learning from each other about another element of F+B or hospitality. I find that a hugely rewarding multiplier effect.

Where’s your favourite place to eat in London?  

For dinner it has to be Ganapati in Peckham for a dosa. A dosa is a fermented mung/rice pancake stuffed with spiced potato and usually eaten slathered with chutney and sambal, with your hands. If I’m having brunch, it’s Ozone every time. I’m in love with their new Emma St site! 

And to drink?   

I love 40 Maltby St or Renegade for wine. If I’m having a cocktail it’s the Connaught every time.  

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