A few years ago I tried Tonica at the Toronto Veg Food Fest and I think it totally beats any soda or iced tea! It’s raw, organic and authentically Canadian. I’ve been a fan since so of course, I had to find out who was behind this refreshing fizzy bevy. Meet Zoey Shamai, the #GirlBoss and Founder of Tonica Kombucha.
What is a day in the life of Zoey like?
Busy! I start each morning with gentle yoga vinyasa and meditation to tune myself in for the day. Then I’ll head to scheduled meetings in the morning with retail buyers and visit existing accounts or suppliers. After that I’ll often pop into Tonica HQ to pow wow with my operations manager and chat with the staff to see what’s up. After lunch I like to head to my gym and work off any stress and get pumped for the rest of the day. From there if I don’t have anything booked I let my intuition guide me and often end up visiting stores and sharing laughs with grocery managers and staff.
Tell us about Tonica Kombucha and how the idea all began.
While studying yoga at a yoga ashram in the US over 10 years ago, I discovered kombucha for the first time. It was amazing for my digestion and I immediately felt a metabolism boost, so we became fast friends! I learned how to make it and soon began brewing it for friends and family. When I returned to Toronto I continued to make kombucha and soon people were asking to buy bottles from me on a regular basis. So as demand grew I learned how to build a commercial kombucha brewery and the business from scratch.
When you are not brewing up a storm, what are your favourite hangout spots in Toronto?
Kensington Market, I grew up here and love the community vibe and all the family owned shops. Once a month they shut down the streets for pedestrian Sunday which is such a good time. Live music, dancing and lots of people out in the streets!
Scooters Roller palace, I don’t think it’s been renovated since 1970 and it is perfect!
Body Blitz for inner city spa rejuvenation with my girlfriends. This is a women’s only salt water pool spa with massage services and a great way to catch up and relax.
Reservoir lounge, a live jazz music club where I go for dinner or just drinks to listen to local Toronto musicians.
What advice would you give to those interested in launching a product?
If you’ve got the passion for your product, amazing! I would start slow though, introduce it to those in your community of friends and family and see if your excitement spreads. If there’s a demand than fill that up and create your market!
If you could do it all over again, is there anything you would change in your life?
I would have trusted my own instincts right from the get go. I’ve learned in business that a lot of people tell a good story about what they’ve accomplished and often it’s inflated half truths. In the beginning years I often compared my progress to those stories and doubted my instincts. Even as I saw that what I was doing was working and Tonica was succeeding. So I think if I could change one thing I would trust my own instincts and not worry about living up to anyone else’s ideals.
What is your guilty indulgence?
Psychics and binge watching Nashville.
What’s next for Tonica Kombucha?
We are so excited to be working on a packaged cocktail drink with Tromba Tequila. Why not get the healthiest boost you can while having your cocktails! Besides being low in sugar, Tonica is also extremely good for cleansing the liver, so it’s a double whammy of goodness!