After experiencing health issues as a side effect from the American lifestyle, Brett Casper introduced Kombucha to Tibb Phungtham; sparking the idea for Pure Luck. From New York to Bangkok, the couple discuss the sacrifices they had to make in order to support the business.
Though modern life does have its admirable perks, the daunting weight of emotional stress and day-to-day routines can dampen the brightest attitudes. Brett Casper and Tibb Phungtham, founders of Pure Luck Kombucha tackle this problem with batches of fermented tea leaves, which have been traditionally used for its appealing health benefits.
Before Casper founded Pure Luck Kombucha in Brooklyn, New York in 2010, he had been working as a professional photographer and art director at Brooklyn Brewery. Despite having the ambition to start a new business, Casper faced critical financial difficulties right from the beginning along with the immensely competitive market on Kombucha before he had began.
As a newcomer to the Big Apple, Tibb’s lifestyle went through a dramatic change. She would find herself more and more conscious of her diet as she experienced health issues as a side effect from the American lifestyle. When Tibb discovered Kombucha through Brett, she was a converted and decided to bring the concept to Thailand.
Despite the complications surrounding Kombucha as a product, Brett and Tibb have come a long way since 2014. On a sunny Tuesday afternoon in Bangkok, they discuss their journey with Pure Luck and the sacrifices they had to make in order to support the business.
What’s the idea behind Pure Luck?
BC: Pure Luck is about how everyone should experience a lucky day; either to achieve something or to get what they want. The microbes in Kombucha make you feel positive and that translates into a feel-good feeling. As they say, ‘happy gut lead to happy life’ and that’s what Pure Luck is all about. A lucky day depends on your stomach!
TP: The concept is that everyone deserves to have ‘pure luck’ no matter what their background us or how much money they have. That’s what we want to express as a brand, in our product, and through the name as well.
Why did you choose to work with Kombucha in the first place?
TP: When I moved from Europe to New York, I had such a drastic change in diet and lifestyle which caused my stomach a lot of problems. In Europe, there are so many fresh foods; fruits, vegetables and organic products are pretty much a norm. However, in New York there are a lot of processed foods and you go out to socialise and drink a lot. When I met Brett, he introduced me to Kombucha, I felt the health benefit right away and I’m unable to live without it ever since.
BC: Before I started making my own Kombucha I learned how to brew tea in Hong Kong and Japan, it’s only natural to progress onto Kombucha which is a fermented tea. I was already drinking Kombucha before Pure Luck but it was really expensive to buy in New York so I just made my own and gave it to friends and family. My first batch was only 3 gallons and then slowly we progressed to 50 gallons.
What’s special about Pure Luck Kombucha?
TP: Our Kombucha has no additives so it remains true to the taste of tea and the ingredients we put into the bottle. I put my heart into every bottle we produce from brewing to designing. We also launch limited edition flavours from time to time to keep things interesting and to help support local producers.
BC: Even though Kombucha is becoming popular there are still misconceptions about it, for example; you shouldn’t put Kombucha in plastic bottles and the fermentation period should be 21 days because any less the probiotics won’t have enough time to develop and you will get mostly sugar in your drinks. We don’t cut corners to make profit and everything we do is backed by scientific research.
TP: We want to share our knowledge so we host regular workshops on how to brew Kombucha in the right way so people can take that knowledge and apply it to a healthier lifestyle.
How did you overcome the first hurdle of starting a business?
BC: The biggest hurdle was money so I sold all my photography equipment to fund the business.
TP: We were very lucky as I grew up in a household that supports the use of organic products so it was easy to explain to my parents what we were trying to do and they were immediately supportive. It would have been harder if we had to convince them about our business as most Thai people don’t understand the concept of Kombucha yet.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your journey as a business owner?
TP: We had some challenges along the way, for example, our products are only four ounces compared to most of the other brands which are sixteen ounces. We’ve met so many people who just laugh at us for trying to sell our products this way but we did thorough marketing research before developing it to this size. As a small brand in New York operation costs were difficult to handle.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs starting a business?
BC: Keep trying and stand up for what you believe in. Also try to get feedback from people who know what they’re doing as much as possible.
TP: Be open-minded and don’t do it just for the look; start a business because you’re passionate about it. It would be helpful to have a complete understanding of your product and brand so do the research before jumping in.
What’s in the near future of Pure Luck Kombucha?
BC: We’re focusing on our products and improving the back end at the moment. We want to expand to Thai clients and get everyone to drink Kombucha!
Address: 31-33 soi nana Chinatown Bangkok 10100
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