Behind the Label
Australian born Joanne Davies decided to look to nature to regain gut health whilst taking her rheumatoid arthritis drug. It wasn’t long before she stumbled on the world of fermentation and worked out how to combine gut loving ferments and socialising.
Dark Forest Sparkling Kombucha and Water Kefir are designed specifically for the hospitality industry because this is were you need gut loving products - where you socialise.
Constructs like “Dry July and Octsober” historically meant hibernating from social events and rigourous health regimes like no carbs, no sugar, arhhh just NO. Life is too short and friends are too important to hide in the shadows of life so at Dark Forest we believe bringing super-dooper gut loving ferments to social events, think of it like “having your açai bowl and eating it too”!.
Beverages need to be exciting and more adult than water, traditional soft drink and juice. Kombucha and Water Kefir quietly go about repopulating gut flora while you get on with connecting to your community - simple. #drinkferments.
Dark Forest Scoby and Dark Forest Face and Body Scrubs formed as a by-product of the fermentation process and the desire to use 100% of the ingredient. These products pay respect to the farmers, environment and those who want responsible product development.
What is Dark Forest all about?
Improving global wellbeing – thinking globally and acting locally – all those great aspirational statements.
At its core its about creating high functioning products ethically and responsibly, ensuring we look after everything along the chain, from the earth that yields the ingredients to those who harvest it, through to the people delivering it to our customers and of course the customers themselves.
Dark Forest is a company inspired to create value in everything it does – from a strong corporate culture that looks after the wellbeing of it’s Staff, the environment, Supplier network and Customer community.
We do this by being deliberate in our processes, veracious in our learning and development and disciplined in our approach to the market.
We believe in profit for purpose, humility and fun that is not at the expense of others.
Why did you start the business?
It was the right time. The market wants products that I want to create.
I’ve always wanted to create and nurture my own Company but it was never the right time. Strategy people talk about “fit” – when your internal resources match the external environment (in simple terms) and this was the right time for me.
I spend New Years 2017 on Kangaroo Island watch “War on Waste” with my husband and it really spoke to me which isn’t new but the response I saw in Sydney was when I got home – it was inspiring.
It felt like, overnight, walking down the street with a takeaway coffee cup was outrageous and environmentally irresponsible. Seriously, it was that sudden.
At Stanwell Park, a little seaside hamlet in NSW, cafes started to take 50c off the price of a coffee if you brought your own cup. To put this in context, when I managed call centres a few years ago I bought Keep Cups for the staff and 90% were used as water cups… seldom did they replace the takeaway coffee cup. Yep, should have just showed them the cupboard…
I see a real desire to learn and apply that learning which I haven’t seen before in Australia. We are among the most educated globally and yet the most nervous to apply that learning in a meaningful way – and given our changing demographic, I can’t blame the reluctance to shine on our convict past!
I feel confident we have moved from “ticking boxes” to solving the problems we face with actionable awareness. And this is where I want to play and create value, from what we create to how we do it and for what purpose.
What is the purpose of Dark Forest?
Improving global wellbeing through diet, ethical business practises and actionable awareness.
Sounds fluffy right? That’s not my intent. My intent is to create a Brand as a consequence of providing value through great product that solves problems, in a way that is sustainable, ethical and fun.
Often marketing is applied like a recipe to create a Brand so that the Brand has a market value. I want Dark Forest to have substance and for that substance to drive the market value of the Brand. Not the other way around.
How do you plan to do this?
For our beverage business - through ancient fermentation practices couple with innovative delivery systems. From as simple as keeping residue sugar low, because over consumption of sugar is killing us, and keeping the taste of our beverages clean and high functioning, because we need to look after our gut, and we need to live an integrated social life.
Our body scrub and scoby snacks for your animals are by-products of our beverage business. It is a practical way of utilising the whole ingredient and pays homage to everything that is generated through the process of fermentation.
We are in the middle of scaling up to larger premises in Goulburn. The building will be purpose built aligned to our core value of being responsible – solar panels, community area, and geographically centred to service our markets.
Our packaging is plain, recycled and recyclable. We don’t use plastic rather first principle is paper, glass and eventually tin when we land in our new digs.
We have some customers who exchange their bottles, which is lovely, and of course we are registered with the “return and earn” program in NSW.
Bigger picture is to scale to different countries and work with communities to build sustainable businesses. It’s not about building the next behemoth consortium but rather establishing best in breed micro companies intimately linked to their community and designed to enrich wellbeing at a local level.
And who are you?
I’m a girl with a drive to add practical value to people’s lives through great product and ethical business practices. It’s very simple and not revolutionary but maybe the outcomes will be!