Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Saleena Subaiya and Lawrence Purpura, Founders of BKE Kombucha, located in Brooklyn, NY, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

BKE Kombucha is a minority-owned and operated business founded by two medical professionals who have a deep passion for microbiology and wellness. We brew all of our kombucha in-house with all organic ingredients, often hand-pressed in-house. We pair classic flavors with a personal spin that incorporates ingredients from our diverse cultural backgrounds.

From the beginning, BKE has always been embedded in the local community. Before becoming an official company, we started by giving away our kombucha at community events, and to this date, we still consider contributing to community events a major tenant of our business ethos. We have also built out a tap house and community event space where we have hosted art and music events at either no cost or very low cost to the artists. We have also offered employment to members of the community, provided free kombucha to community-based events, and engaged with community-based forums.

Tell us about yourself

In 2017, we started hosting meditative and wellness events in our loft space in Brooklyn and served kombucha as part of the experience. Attendees loved it and eventually started asking to buy bottles to take home. Over time, our batch sizes increased, and BKE was born. We first served BKE at local events in Bushwick – and we were immediately struck by how small business is inextricably woven into the fabric of New York City. This sentiment of collaboration, creativity, the ability to participate in such an incredible city (Saleena's home), and our love for our product is what drove us to first take the plunge as business owners.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

We are incredibly proud to say that our love for fermentation and community began as a passion project and has now grown into one of the most successful kombucha brands in New York City. We spent years bootstrapping and carrying out all activities of the business for the first 3 years and are proud to have expanded our team to 5 full-time employees who are just as passionate about BKE. We are also very proud of the new state-of-the-art brewery and event space that we opened in August of 2022. It has taken months of time and dedication from all the members of our team to design and build out this new space, and it is beautiful to see members of the community enjoying our kombucha here.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

As a beverage company in the rapidly growing and competitive kombucha market, we have had to fight strategically to grow our company to where we are now. Initially, we went "door to door," opening new retail clients in New York City, and brewed, bottled, packaged, and delivered all of the kombuchas ourselves until BKE became large enough to work with distributors. Now BKE faces new challenges in expanding to a national market, with plans to distribute through Amazon Fresh and through specialty and natural grocery chains nationwide.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Love your product, build a dedicated team, and follow your instincts.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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