Drinking vinegar is an ancient Japanese practice that dates back to feudal times, when samurai warriors carried vinegar mixed with water into battle as a tonic to fight fatigue. In present-day Japan, it is a practice that is enjoyed by nearly 70% of the population. Japanese drinking vinegars are entirely different from cooking vinegars. They contain half the acidity and are flavored with fruit. When diluted with ice and soda water, tea, or juice, the result is a crisp, refreshing drink!
Genki-Su sets out to make the best drinking vinegars with all fresh ingredients and no added sugar. The result is refreshing, tart, sweet & tasty!
Meet Takako Shinjo
Takako was born in Okinawa, Japan. She moved to the US and studied Business & Marketing at UC Berkeley Extension. With experiences in sales at Ad Agency in San Francisco. Takako has lived in many cities in the US but finally settled in Portland, OR for closed-knit community, diverse culture, nature and fresh local foods. She teaches yoga and has a passion for promoting wellness and a healthy life style.
Meet Judy Tan
Judy Tan, co-founder of Genki-Su and founder of tanQ (Not-For-Profit Design company) where each month, one t-shirt is designed to support a NPO. Before Judy became a fearless entrepreneur, she was designing for Nike and Columbia Sportswear. She obtained her BFA in graphic design with high honors at Oregon State University. Judy embraces both personal and professional challenges as a way to learn, grow, and enjoy new experiences. She endeavors to make a difference in this world and create work that is positive, life changing and inspirational.
What is your company?
Genki-Su: Japanese Drinking Vinegar
How did you come up with the idea?
Genki-Su is based on Takako’s (Co-Founder) mother’s recipe.
Where did you find your first customer?
FRIENDS! They tasted our drinking vinegar and loved it!
How did you determine your target market?
From the beginning, we had a pretty good idea that our target market would be LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability). During our product development stage, we did many street fairs, store demos, events and confirmed it’s true.
What are you currently doing to reach them?
Events, store demos, workshops, social media, marketing, and PR.
How much did you start up with?
Did you bring on investors, get loans, or grow naturally?
Nope, not yet, but we raised funds from two Kickstarter campaigns.
What’s the best advice someone has given you?
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu.
What are your keys to staying productive?
Make a plan and keep track of your own progress. Five minute of planning every morning for the day, one hour weekly planning for the week, and two hour planning for the month.
When you started your business what was one thing you wish you knew?
Never hesitate to ask help! Instead of finding the solution on our own, there are many people happy to help and share their knowledge, experiences and networks.
What resources or books do you refer to regularly?
Our dietitian has great resources and advice when we need it!
Has your company experienced any close calls or lucky moments?
We got selected as a “Staff Pick” on our first Kickstarter campaign.
What does success mean to you?
If we are inspiring people and making an positive impact on this world with Genki-Su, that is success to us. This may embody creating a superb honest product, sharing it with our customers, doing our best, learning and growing everyday.
Where would you like to see your business 5 years from now?
Distribute Genki-Su nationwide and internationally. We want “Genki-su” to be a recognized brand for drinking vinegar, like Starbucks as coffee and Haagen-Dazs as ice cream.
What do you need help with?
As we grow larger, we’ll need more funds which is the next step in our plan.
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