Our Tofino Neighbours: Kelsey Hendricks of Tofino Kombucha

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Ike Seaman
By Ike Seaman, Sommelier, Director of Food & Beverage
Newsletters26 June 2019


Born Port Alberni and raised in Chemainus, Vancouver Island, Kelsey Hendricks packed up and moved to Tofino the day after she graduated high school. It wasn’t the first time she’d come out west; she’d been visiting her grandmother, Bev Cook, here since childhood. Grandma Bev was of the Arnet family, long-time Tofino residents; in fact Bev’s grandpa was the first mayor of Tofino!

Kelsey’s first job in Tofino (in 2002) was split between a position at Middle Beach Lodge and another at Tony’s Pizza. And while her initial plan was to save up some money and move to Whistler to ski, she started surfing and soon all her money started getting funneled towards surf trips—she was hooked, and she stayed.

Over time Kelsey continued to work at a number of local businesses in a variety of capacities, including four and a half years at the Wickaninnish Inn where she excelled as a skilled server in The Pointe Restaurant. It was during her time here that she enrolled as a student in the Certified Professional Accounts (CPA) online program, followed by a temporary position working in the finance department at the District of Tofino, and leading to a full-time position accounting at Live to Surf. This shift of work and studying felt good, and Kelsey enjoyed her new responsibilities.

When Kelsey and her husband had a baby, Kelsey started working on what she thought was a small maternity leave side project—it turned out to be something much bigger: the beginning of Tofino Kombucha, a company with the “mission to be your gateway to better nutrition and better health.”

Within a year of experimenting, Kelsey put her accounting studies on hold and began putting her administrative and business skills to work. She purchased all the right equipment and started with a few customers. She wanted to create a premium product with quality ingredients, whole foods, freshness and no artificial flavours or colours. She wanted to do it right, and hired a professional design team to create a logo (with an homage to the Lennard Lighthouse seen in an abstract “O//”) and labelling; she even went the extra mile to get organic certification.

Within two years, Tofino Kombucha has burgeoned outside of the Tofino and Ucluelet market to include the east side of the Island, and, Kelsey says, she has sights on Victoria next. With Ginger Lemon, Jasmine Hibiscus and Apricot Rose as her current line-up, Kelsey says she has some interesting flavours coming down the pipe including a few specialties for local businesses and events. Her Ginger, Turmeric and Orange will be on tap at Tofino Brew Co. this fall, and Blueberry Lavender will be bottled for distribution. Having local support to showcase new flavours allows her to experiment with what people like before deciding to brew and bottle it en masse (Guests at the Wickaninnish Inn can enjoy Tofino Kombucha in our Driftwood Cafe).

It’s been a rapid boom, but, now with two employees, enthusiasm and a superlative product, Kelsey is finding success that’s growing as quickly as her kombucha SCOBY does! We are proud to be part of Kelsey’s journey and to offer her refreshing and delicious kombucha at the Wickaninnish Inn.

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