WESTPORT, Conn. -- Most high school seniors are busy going to class, socializing and getting their college applications together.
Aishah Avdiu, a 17-year-old senior at Staples High School in Westport, is doing all this, too. But she is also the owner and founder of her own business -- Bar 'Bucha — which just opened at 601 Riverside Ave. in Westport.
Bar 'Bucha specializes in kombucha, a fermented probiotic drink that originated in Russia and China.
“It’s a live and raw drink. The benefits of probiotics include improving gut health and digestion. It also contains electrolytes for energy and replenishing vitamins and minerals,” Aishah said.
“This drink has become popular all over America In the health food movement in recent years, for its health benefits and flavor,” she said. Her parents are health conscious, and she has been drinking kombusha throughout her childhood.
Aishah sells over 50 flavors of kombucha, including Raspberry Concord, Beets & Berries, and Pineapple Hibiscus, as well as Cranberry Ginger, Sweet Heat and Strawberry Sage. Each flavor has its own health benefit in addition to the probiotic, she said.
The drink originated from a bacterial culture that is fed black tea and sugar over the brewing period. “Kombucha is brewed all around the country,” she said.
The drink is offered on tap for $5 to $8 a cup, and in a bottle and as a “mocktail” for $6.
Aishah said she first became interested in business as a sophomore. “My business spirit came out after I took an accounting class,” she said.
It wasn’t long before she became fascinated with what she referred to as “the intricacy of something that seems to stereotypically boring from the outside.”
Aishah went on to take every business class that Staples offers -- including advanced placement economics, investing and money management.
“I enjoyed all of them,” she said.
Her mother, Opala, is a fashion industry executive and her father, Hasim, owns a real estate development company. “All of my parent’s business sense has been ingrained in me over the years, and it’s a big part of who I am today,” said Aishah, the oldest of four children.
She knew early on that she wanted to sell kombucha. “I am really confident in its potential,” she said.
To get her business up and running, she worked on every aspect, from managing social media to marketing the business to using accounting software to visiting breweries throughout the tri-state area.
The business is in a highly visible 500-square-foot location, facing Exit 17 of I-95. “It took three months to secure the space,” she said.
She has hired staff to operate the business during school hours. But at 2:15 p.m., when her school day is over, Aishah heads right over to her business.
Half of the customers who head in haven’t tasted the drink before. “They come in saying they saw the sign, the lights and the bright yellow door,” she said.
Aside from Kombucha, Aishah sells healthy snacks and granola bars, including GIB, Nothin But, Sahale, Clif and Luna.
Soon, the business will also be selling items from a vegan baker. She also plans on bringing in professionals in the wellness industry to speak in free events for the public.
One piece of advice for entrepreneurs: “Make sure you are unwaveringly passionate about what you’re doing. Without passion, it’s incredibly difficult to push through the challenges that any business venture can present," she said.
“This business is my passion. It’s what makes me happy, and I’m looking forward to watching it grow.
“Kombucha is a totally untapped market,” said Aishah, who plans to pursue bachelor's and master's degrees in business when she goes to college next fall.
There are many ambitious and creative young people everywhere who have excellent ideas all the time, she said, but “I stand out because I had an idea and I made it happen.”
For more information on Bar 'Bucha, click here .