The Banjo Brews story

August 31, 2016

Hi we are Sandie and Heather, the founders of Banjo Brews.

Our story is one that dates back 20 years or more, when we first met working at Outward Bound in Anakiwa.  It’s also where we both met our husbands (Ben and Ben) and our families have been hanging out together ever since.

In 2013 Heather and her son Matt opened Ritual Cafe, an ‘urban, vego, hippy, freaky cafe’ in Blenheim and called on Sandie to help pull it off.  

Ritual Cafe quickly became famous for its left field take on food, music and decor, but one problem remained - sourcing healthy, tasty non-alcoholic drinks that weren’t crammed with sugar.

Out of desperation, we began experimenting with brewing our own kombucha, and as our obsession grew and our customers developed a taste for it, keeping up with demand started taking more of our time and more of our space.

So after a few planning sessions Banjo Brews and The Cultured Elephant dream was put into action, and the two Bennys were put to work, converting some sheds in Blind River into a kombucha brewery.  

Within weeks demand was skyrocketing and another shed was taken over. Then another. We had a vision: build it, and they will Kom. Bucha. Haha.

So what’s with the names you ask.

Well, we’re quite into music, and our Bennys are particularly adept at the banjo.

We also have a bit of a thing for elephants round here, and when we read The Happiness Hypothesis by Dr Jonathon Haidt, his analogy of the conscious and subconscious mind resonated with us.  In the book, he compares the conscious mind (logic) to a boy and our subconscious mind (instinct) to an elephant. In his analogy the boy who has trained his elephant may appear to be in control of the elephant, but it is the elephant who accomplishes the task, instinctively and automatically doing what needs to be done.

Now, our Bennys will tell you that you can’t learn to play the banjo, or any other musical instrument using logic.  Logic is only useful in planning what is to be learned and designing an approach to the task - but it’s far too slow to enable anyone to play like a pro.

The moral of these stories?

Tell the boy to get out of your way, and let your elephant play the banjo.

We are big believers in following our instincts and encourage you to do the same - GO WITH YOUR GUT and try our kombucha for yourself.






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