Alumnae Spotlight: Daina Slekys Trout, Co-Founder and CEO Health-Ade Kombucha
You’re cruising the aisles at your local grocery store. You come to a halt because you’ve arrived at the refrigerated display with rows of bright colored kombucha bottles. A few years ago, you might not have thought twice about kombucha, the effervescent fermented tea with the funny name chock full of probiotics. But, now kombucha is a staple, a treat – something good you did for yourself today. You reach for the Health-Ade Kombucha with its funky flavors like ‘Blood Orange-Carrot-Ginger’ and ‘Cayenne Cleanse.’ Before you head to check out, there’s one more thing you need to know. A Holy Child alumna is behind that bottle of fizzy happiness you’re drinking. Now go back and buy a few more!
Daina Slekys Trout, Class of 1999, co-founded Health-Ade Kombucha in 2012, “with a tiny credit card and a big dream: to brew the best tasting and highest quality kombucha you can buy.” She started brewing kombucha in her apartment with her husband, Justin Trout, and her best friend, Vanessa Dew. Now the Los Angeles based company has grown to more than 200 employees. The drink is carried in more than 16,000 stores nationwide and is considered to be one of the fastest growing and top performing national brands in the marketplace. Not only that, Daina, who is Health-Ade’s CEO, was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s 2017 “Most Innovative Women in Food & Drink.”
While Daina has always been passionate about nutrition, health and real food, something else drove her to start her own business. She says she, Justin and Vanessa were unfulfilled in their previous career paths.
“We wanted to prove we could run our own business, be our own bosses, make our own rules, and build a company and impact on the country we could be proud of,” Daina says.
But success didn’t happen overnight for Health-Ade. Daina will tell you that launching a business and building a company meant navigating a long road of non-stop hurdles where the buck stops with you. She says the secret to winning depends on how hard you’re willing to work for it.
“You have to believe in yourself, grow and develop 10 times faster than normal, and run faster and harder than everyone else around you,” explains Daina. “All that said, if you’re called to do this, because you just KNOW you need to do this, my advice would be: JUMP IN. The sooner you do, the sooner you win.”
If you’re looking for one more secret to Daina and Health-Ade’s success, look no further than the kombucha bottle itself. Each one says, “Follow your gut!” After all, that’s their tagline for a reason.
Keep reading for more about Daina’s company and her experience at Holy Child!
What are you most proud of when it comes to your company?
“The thing I’m most proud of is actually my team. I have 200 soldiers that go out every day and give their all for Health-Ade. It’s an incredible feeling to have attracted such super-stars. We wouldn’t be where we are without them.”
Where do you see your company going in the future?
“I’d like to see Health-Ade Kombucha as the modern soda, replacing sugary carbonated drinks in every fridge in America. I’d also like to expand into other healthy real food categories. No matter what, we always want to totally win - that’s our whole culture.”
Tell us about your favorite Holy Child memory or class.
“I loved the games, art class, dances, and spirit week. So many teachers stand out in my memory. Mr. Woodard I have to thank the most. He made me a better writer. YES, he was a history teacher, but he was the one who would give me a ‘C’ on a paper because it wasn’t written well enough. I still think of him every time I re-write a speech to make it that much better."
What is your best piece of advice to a Holy Child student or alumna who is pursuing her career/dream?
“Just do it, girl! Believing in yourself is the FIRST most important step that needs to be alive throughout the whole journey. You already have what it takes to get started, and you will get everything else you need along the way if you just keep going. FOLLOW YOUR GUT!”
Written by: Liz Palka Minukas '04
Do you know of a Holy Child alumna with an interesting career, service project, or hobby that we should spotlight? Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org!