Latest News | 11 January 2022

Marketing Derby’s Rising Star 2022 – and the winner is…

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A business that creates and sells a healthy alternative to fizzy drinks has been named as Marketing Derby’s Rising Star for 2022.

So Good Kombucha, which was founded by Lesley So, has been chosen by the city and county’s inward investment agency as the winner of this year’s competition, which aims to give entrepreneurs and new businesses a helping hand.

Lesley, who was recently named as one of the top 100 female entrepreneurs in the UK by f:Entrepreneur, said: “I am very grateful for this amazing honour and opportunity.

“I have been welcomed with open arms by the Derby business community and am so thankful for the support.

“Having the brand associated with the highly reputable agency that is Marketing Derby will help us to connect more with the Derby business community – and promote the city to the rest of the UK.”

Lindsey Hatfield, from Marketing Derby, said: “Once again, the standard of entries for this year’s Rising Star competition was extremely high. So Good Kombucha is a brilliant new business, run by an inspirational entrepreneur.”

Lesley came up with the idea for So Good Kombucha after noticing a gap in the UK market for a non-alcoholic fizzy drink alternative that is vegan, allergen-free, natural, low-in-sugar and, above all, healthy.

Naturally sparkling and slightly tangy, kombucha is a fermented tea with origins thought to go back over 2,000 years to ancient China.

Lesley’s family had always brewed and loved the drink, but most of the kombucha she tried in the UK were either not authentic or did not taste right.

So, in 2020, Lesley decided to leave her job at Rolls-Royce, where she was vice-president of marketing, to pursue her dream of running her own start-up business, producing kombucha.

Since beginning trade in May last year, So Good Kombucha has sold well over 10,000 bottles, with orders coming from all over the UK and abroad.

Despite the growth in demand, every bottle is still brewed, bottled, and labelled by Lesley herself. Product flavours include elderflower mojito and strawberry basil.

But as well as being an entrepreneur, Lesley is a champion of the marginalised in the community, particularly refugees and asylum seekers who have been forced to leave their homes in pursuit of safety and freedom.

She is a trustee at two local charities – Upbeat Communities and EMCF – both of which support marginalised communities.

So, when she founded So Good Kombucha, she wanted to create business with a social purpose that was sustainable and ethical. This has led to Lesley receiving national recognition.

As well as scooping the Rising Star accolade, Lesley has also been recently named as one of the UK’s most inspirational and dynamic female entrepreneurs by the f:Entrepreneur ‘#ialso100’ campaign.

Delivered by Small Business Britain, f:Entrepreneur was launched in 2017 to highlight the stories of amazing female business owners and help provide inspiration and role models across the wider small business community.

It showcases trailblazing female founders who lead businesses alongside a roster of other responsibilities, such as volunteering, mentoring and community support.

On being featured in the #ialso100 line-up, Lesley said: “It is such an honour to be selected as part of this amazing community of female entrepreneurs.

“So Good Kombucha was born to introduce the UK to kombucha and to be an eco-friendly business that cares for our planet and employs refugees.

“I feel that we are still at the start of our journey so to be featured on the #iaso100 line-up is incredibly humbling.”

As the 2022 Rising Star, the business will receive a complimentary year of Bondholder membership, along with local publicity and invitations to must-attend events.

And on being made this year’s Rising Star, Lesley added: “I’m convinced that Derby has one of the most vibrant, friendly and exciting small business network in the UK and it would be an absolute dream to be able to get more actively involved in this community.

“I’d love to be able to use some of my skills in giving back to this wonderful community that has been so generous to me in my start-up journey.

“In particular, as a BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of colour) female entrepreneur, I would like to set an example for other minority groups in the community to have the courage to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams – and that Derby is a great place to make this happen.”

You can find out more about Lesley’s business when she appears on the forthcoming Marketing Derby Live Lounge online session on Thursday, 3 February, where she will be interviewed by last year’s Rising Star winner The Swap Shop.

In a statement, The Swap Shop said: “The Swap Shop proudly passes on the Rising Star to Lesley and So Good Kombucha.

“We just know that she will have the support of an amazing group of businesses and business owners throughout Derby and Derbyshire during 2022.

“Being the 2021 Rising Star has enabled Swap Shop to grow from that early conversation in the very first online Zoom of Marketing Derby’s into a membership of almost 1,000 across the UK. It truly does all start in Derby!”

Invites to the Live Lounge will be sent out to Bondholders soon.

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