Say Hello New Vendors: Soul Brew Kombucha & Plan Bee Honey

Though we are closing in on the end of the 2021 market season, it’s a great moment to acknowledge and show love for some of the South Shore Farmers’ Market’s newest vendors. In 2021, we welcomed five new vendors: Centgraf Farms, Plan Bee Honey, Rise & Grind Coffee, Soul Brew Kombucha and Stamper Cheese. Recently, committee member Elisabeth Gasparka had the chance to speak with two of the business owners about their businesses, what motivates them, and how the South Shore Farmers’ Market is part of their inspiration, their growth, and their evolving stories. 


Tell us about your business origin story.

It was birthed out of a place where I was learning how to take care of myself. I had decided that I wanted to start doing things for me, as a woman. I think a lot of women experience this: we give until our cups are empty, and we have nothing left for ourselves. And I was a victim of that. Bad habits, depression, overworking myself for other people, giving myself to my students as an educator, and still trying to be a mom at home, and I ended up being pre-diabetic. Fast forward to a conversation with my sister who said, “Hey, maybe you should start drinking kombucha. It stinks, and it tastes really gross, but it’s really good for you.” 

I tried it…and I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t think about it again, until I was scrolling on Facebook. A woman I knew was offering some extra scobys. I remember while doing some of the research early on I learned that “scoby” stood for a “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast” and I was super intrigued. I got in the car, I drove over to her home. She showed me where I should get my bottle and the things I needed to start brewing at home. And that one scoby transformed into an entire business. I’m forever grateful for that moment. 

I started brewing out of a desire to heal myself, and the benefits really rang true to me. Within twenty minutes my acid reflux had really calmed down. I had a lot of energy. I saw that my inflammation was going down. It prompted me to want to exercise. You know, when you start doing small things that are good for you, it leads to you doing larger things that are good for you. All around, it changed my state of thinking about health and wellness, and I started sharing it with women at church. They really enjoyed the flavors, and I learned early on that it was about education. 

After doing a little bit more research into the brands that are out there– I saw that they really don’t target Black and Brown people. A lot of issues that we’re dealing with in the inner city– I felt like I had stumbled upon this elixir that really could be beneficial. I wanted to create a brand that really spoke to the people. Not that I wanted to exclude anyone because we’re very diverse and we’re very inclusive in our messaging, but at the same time, I wanted to do something that I know other brands are not doing by targeting Black and Brown people, and really making it diabetic-friendly. “Low in sugar, high and delicious flavor,” is our motto and that’s what we continue to provide in our product.

The name Soul Brew is a reflection of how it made me feel. It felt good to my soul, and, being a native of Milwaukee, I had to acknowledge the brew city. Within six months, I decided It was going to be a business. I did some research about what the market looks like. It was all about targeting yoga moms, suburban white mothers, not Black and Brown people. I felt it could be really beneficial for those communities. So that intrigued me as well.

What drives you?

I’ve always been a woman of service. This is a great way for me to give. I’ve always been a creative, and coming up with flavors has been great. I’m a foodie, and I have a very intricate palette. And I like to put things together that make sense. Outside of it being something that I could change my life with, as a business, I really enjoy the creativity behind it. 

How would you describe the spirit of your company? 

Ooh, we are alive, we are vibrant, we are raw, we are real. You know, I spoke to someone about the tone. And I said, I see Soul Brew as a favorite “Auntie.” She speaks the truth, she’s always speaking in love, and she’s always helping you. And this is the person you can confide in and you trust: that’s Soul Brew. I want it to be the brand that people can look at and say, “Okay, I know I’m getting what I’m supposed to be getting, I know I’m going to enjoy this, I know that it’s going to be great for my health. I know that messaging is going to be able to reach me and other people, I’m going to learn something from this.”

What is special about your product? 

It’s creative. It’s Wisconsin’s first Black female kombucha company. I bring a lot to the table. It’s diabetic friendly, I’m targeting a certain group of individuals. My flavor profiles are unique and creative. You can identify with them, and it makes you want to come back and try something new. 

What attracted you to apply to join the South Shore Farmers’ Market? 

When I first thought about doing farmers markets everybody said, “You’ve got to get into South Shore. The people are faithful, you’ll really create a wonderful clientele people you know, rain or shine people are there.” It’s a wonderful group of people. I was so bummed out when I was told initially that they didn’t have a spot for me. But lo and behold, another company went out of business, and a spot opened up and I got the call. I was so excited. It’s become one of my absolute favorite spaces to go on Saturday. I love the people and the energy there. People are very willing to hear me out and learn more about kombucha. I love that people come back excited to tell me about their own health discoveries. It’s a wonderful group of people, and I’m very grateful to now be a part of that circle. 

Where else in Milwaukee or beyond can people find your products? 

We’re online a and After the market season is over, we will be opening up our space to do Growler fill-ups. People can sign up with a subscription and come and get their growlers filled throughout the rest of the year.  We are also found at:


Outpost Natural Foods, Riley Sandwich Shop, Good Kind, Strange Town, Company Brewing, Urban Beets, Draft & Vessel, Glass Pantry


Willy Street Co-op


Blue Mills Garden

How has the pandemic impacted your business?

The world seemed to be on a downward spiral, and in the midst of that I had something that was immune-building. I had to shut down production for a couple months. And it wasn’t anyone but Judge Mosley who called me and said, “Hey, my daughter wants some of your kombucha,” and I said, “Well, Judge, we had to close down production. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything, but I am about to start back up again.” He said, “Okay, well, as soon as you do, you let me know.” And so I did. He followed up by saying, “I’m going to post this on my foodie page, but I’m telling you now, when I post this you’re going to get a lot of inquiries. Are you ready?” Of course I said yes. I wasn’t ready, though. After that, I got order after order after order. I had to start taking pre-orders. That was in June of 2020, so in the midst of a pandemic we really started to take off.

Simultaneously, we had social unrest and so much was going on. I came up with a flavor, “BLM,” which is blackberry, lemon and mango. It’s a strong message with a sweet refrain, since “BLM” also stands for Black Lives Matter. The fact that we were able to speak to the people through the product made me extremely excited. 

What are your plans for the future? 

My goal is to distribute nationally, and even internationally. I am looking into cans and really pushing e-commerce. We are growing. In April, we moved into our own facility, South First Street inside the Lincoln Warehouse building, and we’ve grown more from then until now. It has been a steady climb, and a huge undertaking, but I love what I do. It is really refreshing to get testimonials from people who are giving praise to a product that is transforming their lives. People love this brand. They love what it stands for. They love that I’m a Black woman in Milwaukee doing something amazing. 

Soul Brew wants to continue to getting better with pushing education and awareness for diabetes. We want to do more partnerships with restaurants as they open. We now do kegs, 12-pack bottles, and soon 6-packs of cans. So our product line has been growing immensely.

I have really, really enjoyed being part of the market this season, and I’m looking forward to Soul Brew Kombucha becoming even better, and bringing more to the table for the next season! Cheers!

– Alesia Miller, Owner


What drives you to harvest honey?

I like to think that by keeping bees I am saving the planet. It makes me feel like a tiny super hero.  I’ve always been fascinated by bees and how complex and efficient bee life is; I wanted to see it for myself. The best way was to put a hive in my yard, but the endeavor was daunting and all I did was think about it. I couldn’t pull the trigger. My boyfriend surprised me by enrolling me in a local beekeeping club. I didn’t have much choice, then, but to dive right in and I’m so glad I did! It’s a rewarding career that puts me in touch with nature, with the added benefit of providing a local, pure product that people love.

How would you describe the spirit of your company? 

Fun, clean, and sweet! We are a green company. We don’t use any chemicals.  We try to make life easy for the bees by giving them a good home and making sure we do all we can to keep their environment perfect for honey production. Then we sit back and let the bees be bees. They make the honey and we bring it to you.

What is special about your product?

It’s local. You need to know your beekeeper so you can be sure that you are buying real honey… not blended honey or honey with additives. It’s pure. The only thing in our honey is honey! It’s raw. We never heat, treat or pasteurize. We call it  “hive to table.” We keep our prices affordable. And darn it, people love our honey!

What attracted you to apply to join the South Shore Farmers’ Market? 

I loved the origin story of the market. I was intrigued that a group of neighbors started the market in the 1990s.  Neighbors come and go, so I’m sure it isn’t the same group of neighbors, but I love the feeling of inclusion and commitment that keeps the Shore Farmers’ Market going strong all these years later! The committee is always present and always improving the market. I like to know that what I can buy at South Shore is made or grown locally.

Where else in Milwaukee (or beyond!) can people find your products?

We participate in four markets a week, and special events all around the metro area. Look for locations on our Facebook page: Plan Bee Honey Co.

How has the pandemic impacted your business, and what are your goals for the future?

The pandemic sent us all home and we had to find a new way to do business without contact, just like everyone else. We offered porch pick-up and it worked! People liked it, so we will continue porch pick-up so you can still get honey after the market season ends. The downtime gave us opportunities to build and grow new bee yards, hone our skills and techniques, poll the masses and we found out what people want. We added products, and expanded our farmers market schedule. We came back wiser and stronger and will continue as long as we have air, water and sunshine. Life is sweet! 🐝

– Erica Feltner, Owner.

There’s still time to catch Soul Brew Kombucha, Plan Bee Honey, and all the rest of our phenomenal vendors in-person at the market, before the market closes for the season at the end of October! Join us Saturday from 8 am- 12 pm at South Shore Park through Oct 30. 

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