Hailing from the artsy, family-focused Takoma Park, MD neighborhood, 32-year-old Milan Durham is the founder of the kombucha brand of the moment– Cultured Kombucha.

Made exclusively in D.C. we caught up with Durham to learn more about her entrepreneurship journey, launching in D.C., and how she creates new flavors for her spin on the fizzy, health-drink.

Why Kombucha?

“I created Cultured Kombucha to get minorities and lesser-served communities interested in internal and probiotic health. When I started brewing kombucha I was shocked at how many who looked like me had never even heard of it.”

“Numerous studies have shown how larger companies disproportionately target communities of color for their sugar-sweetened products, and the poor health in those communities reflects that. I wanted to create an alternative.”

What role does kombucha play in your life and health?

“I’ve loved kombucha ever since I first tried it on a trip to Portland many years ago. I’ve seen amazing benefits when I regularly consume it, a lot of my indigestion and skin irritations (eczema) are so much less inflamed. There is a lot of hesitation to claim medical miracles around kombucha, which I respect, but when I control for everything else in my diet and habits, I do see it playing a major role in the difference.”

Milan Durham

What Sets Cultured Kombucha Apart?

“I’ve often been told Cultured Kombucha is more approachable than some others. I brew it fresh in D.C. and push it straight out into consumers’ hands. So it doesn’t sit around in the back of fridges for weeks continuing to ferment. It tastes very fresh, like a garden in a bottle. I love getting creative with the flavors as well, and change them every season.”

How do you come up with your recipes? Where does your flavor inspiration come from?

“I actually do two-part research. I first identify something I would like to heal or improve (inflammation, digestion, mental clarity, libido etc.), during this stage I do research on herbs and fresh ingredients that naturally address some of those things. Then I begin a more creative process of pairing those ingredients to see which complement each other or what else I might like to incorporate for optimal flavor.”


Cultured Kombucha

What has the experience of starting a business been like? What did you do before launching?

“It’s been a whirlwind. My background is in architecture, not food & beverage so the learning curve has been steep. I apply what I do know and learn the rest along the way. Finding community has been one of the greatest assets. Peer-to-peer mentoring and having other businesses owners to lean on, collaborate with, ask questions to is really a game changer. Before launching I was working in architecture full-time (as I still am), homebrewing nonstop figuring everything out, doing some light brand and market research, and slowly building visual assets.”

“D.C. has an amazing creative community. I do think of myself as creative and get tapped to collaborate on some great things, so I would say I am a part of it. Shop Made in D.C. is an awesome space for makers and they carry Cultured Kombucha in their Dupont store.”

What’s next for you and Cultured Kombucha?

“We’re only about 5 months old, we’re off to an awesome start and expect really amazing things from what we’re building. If Cultured continues to grow you can expect to see more than kombucha from us in the future.”

Photography courtesy of Milan Durham, shot by The Story Tellez