Most businesses have an online presence nowadays, even if they have a bricks and mortar set up too, but the thing with social media is that everything can look so perfect, so curated, so glossy from the outside. I wanted to get behind the curtain, inside the minds and into the hearts of some of my favourite businesses and find out more about the people that run them. I figured if I was curious to know more, maybe you could be too?
Welcome to my fortnightly series The Face Behind the Business. Come behind the scenes with me, behind the perfect image we see at the store front level and meet some wonderful Kiwis doing wonderful things (and learn their secrets to success).
Last year I was lucky enough to check out The Capital event when Wellington came to Auckland and showed us what they were made of. One of the best brands I discovered that night was Six Barrel Soda Co and I’m extremely proud to bring their story to you today on The Face Behind the Business.
Established in 2012 by Joseph Slater and Mike Stewart, our soda syrups and bottled sodas are being used around New Zealand and Australia by the best soda jerks, the most creative cafes, restaurants and bars and home soda fans looking for something different. All over the country people that care about soda are serving natural, creative & seasonal sodas such as Celery Tonic, Rhubarb and Juniper, Spiced Kola, Pinot Noir and Orange Dandy.
ABOUT THE BUSINESS
Where did the original idea for your business come from?
We opened a bar/diner in Wellington and wanted to offer a range of natural and interesting soft drinks as well as use them for simple but innovative mixed drinks. I couldn’t find anything decent out there so started making my own, a couple of years and a lot of recipe refining later we started Six Barrel Soda Co in 2012.
What are you most proud of with the launch of your company?
We are trying to set the bar high for what soft drinks can be. I think we’ve been pretty successful at convincing people to drink more interesting drinks while at the same time offering an alternative to the big soda companies.
What has been the most difficult part of your journey?
We are still a small company but in some ways compete with coke and other huge brands, with infinite budgets. We’re lucky to have loyal customers and a growing demand for independent products.
What has been the most rewarding part of this experience?
Seeing the company grow and being able to take on staff and build a team has been great. It’s an exciting time to be in business where we can focus on building a quality brand with great products rather than a profit driven monster.
Do you have plans to expand your range?
We already have 12 syrups and 6 bottled sodas so we’re trying not to add much more but we have some collaborative products in the works which will be sideline things but keep it interesting.
What’s your mantra or the one piece of advice that has stuck with you through the process of starting your own business?
hmm, I’m not really a mantra guy but I think it’s important to remember everyone is just working it out as they go and if you have a good product and are honest with people it will probably work out ok.
Tell me a little about you.
I have lived in Wellington since 2000 with a few years overseas in the middle. I live in a little house in Berhampore with my wife Willow who works at excellent Wellington fashion label twenty seven names and my almost 2yo Nina. I also write a fortnightly drinks column for Your Weekend magazine.
Do you have any tips on how to make a successful business work with a young family? (if relevant)
learn to juggle and keep a good to-do list and calendar.
What’s your favourite (family) activity or outing?
We have a great Saturday morning routine of vegie markets, coffee at our favourite café and swimming lessons for Nina. It’s all done by 11am but it stocks us up for food for the week and is some good family time.
What words of advice would you give to anyone wanting to start their own business?
Do something better than it’s being done and don’t compete with anyone else who is doing a great job.
Your go to meal?
Fish tacos with chipotle sauce, iceberg and guacamole.
Your child/ren’s favourite food?
Nina is pretty down with fish tacos too!
You can find Six Barrel Soda Co. online via these channels, so please pay Joseph a visit:
We are lucky enough to have a bottle of Six Barrel Soda Syrup to giveaway to one very lucky reader. All you need to do to win a bottle (flavour of your choosing) is head to my Facebook page and follow the instructions there.