Nov 28, 2018
GT Dave is the Founder & CEO of GT’s Living Foods, the maker of GT’s Kombucha. Family owned & operated since 1995, the #1 selling Kombucha brand has stayed true to the sacred, authentic brewing process - handcrafting small batches with 100% raw & organic ingredients. His mission: To help people live happier, healthier lives.
His inspiring story of healing started with his family and paved the way for the empire he has built today, and if he isn’t the nicest and most down to earth emperor you’ve ever met, we’ll eat our hats.
GT’s story began in his parents’ kitchen, when the new agers that they were started making their own funky tea, which turned out to have played a major role in his mother’s fight and ultimate victory over cancer. His personal story has been one of both joy and heartache, and the brand he created with his own two hands is a reflection of the amazing dedication and focus that he has had since he was a kid. Also he showed up to meet us with a full sleeve of tattoos from the totally rad Halloween party he had just hosted. They were temporary, however, so ironically this was perhaps the only time in his life he did not commit to something 150%.
You’ll hear from a true wellness O.G. on how he turned his family’s passion and their own health journey from sickness to health into a reality bigger than anything he could have imagined. From the humblest of beginnings--he did his best Doogie Howser as a 15-year-old in a suit with a briefcase and peddled his wares straight into the iconic Erewhon Market in LA--to a more recent spiritual journey he had, which gave him all the confidence he needed to grow, expand and eventually rebrand to bring his vision to its full funky glory.
Here's some of what we covered with GT:
· GT’s first exposure to kombucha was through a friend of his parents--she came back from the Himalayas with a culture, and shared it with GT's father who then brought it into the household. It made everyone just feel good, and his parents were instant fans. They started to drink it religiously and went from one batch to two to seven batches. Basically they started getting all cultural at home.
· Life at Beverly Hills High for GT was less Kelly and Donna, more Andrea Zuckerman and her library friends. **Those born after 1990 please google all of the above, including the word “library.”** His parents’ early prototype of this mysterious fermented tea used to sit on the dining room table and burp and bubble and fart to any lucky passerby. Social life was a bit of a challenge, to say the least.
· As they watched his mother’s miraculous progress in her fight against cancer, he convinced his parents that there was something to this burping beauty and they should make a real go of it as a business. To which they replied, we have jobs—your move, kiddo. And so it began.
· He started the business out of his parents’ kitchen, and with laser precision he painstakingly labeled every bottle, sold every order and set up every new account himself. Actually himself and the two alternate personalities he created so that folks would take him seriously.
· He considered himself barefoot and pregnant at the inception of the product—he was so invested and so willing to just go for it that he made the decision to not go to college, but to jump in with both feet and build a business, with his parents’ blessing. Wow, they really were super cool watching their barefoot and pregnant son.
· To this day he considers himself a helicopter parent over his baby—this metaphor just keeps giving. He wants to make sure as it grows up, it goes to the right school and doesn’t marry the wrong dude. See above, “Dylan McKay.”
· A quick lesson on Ayahuasca—it’s not a drug, it’s a medicinal preparation of a plant and a leaf. And powerful medicine at that—GT got a message during his ceremony that validated his work and inspired his rebrand, including a new name. Zoe then very generously tried to sell him the trademark to her own name, just in case. We’ll follow up on that at a later date.
· As part of the new vision, he acquired CocoKefir, a similar business that started with a healing story and ended with a success—CocoYo was their love child. Groovy.
· Like us, GT has watched the category he created grow and thrive, and then get infiltrated with some less-than-authentic coattail riders. We agreed that as much as brands must do the work to offer the information, the responsibility lies also with the consumer to educate themselves and understand the brands that are authentic (AHEM!) vs the ones that are just copycats.
@ @GTsKombucha | @GTDave3