BREWING BUSINESS: Maddy Eagle launches a kombucha bar within Millennial Brewing’s taproom in downtown Fort Myers.
Two years ago, Maddy Eagle was on the rise at Gartner. Within the marketing department, she’d moved from associate program manager to program manager to senior program manager in short order. She was good at her job, and she liked the company. Still, something wasn’t quite working for her. “The promotions felt rewarding to me, but I was like, ‘What does this all mean?’” says Eagle, now 31. That’s when she began her side hustle.
Eagle discovered kombucha in her mid-twenties. The fermented tea beverage contains gut-friendly probiotics that some say help with everything from digestive issues to arthritic pain. Eagle experienced regular inflammation flare-ups that left her joints swollen and painful, and she found that when she drank kombucha, it eased her symptoms. “It was exactly the solution that I was looking for,” Eagle says.
She started homebrewing her own kombucha in early 2018, and when she felt restless in her corporate job, she started selling her kombucha at farmers markets on the weekend. Eagle spent a year selling her kombucha at markets and wrestling with a decision about her 9 to 5. Finally, she chose to take the leap. After she got her last promotion, she decided to look at it as a parting gift from Gartner. “It gave me the time to close up things,” she says. “That way I could help my team, my program and my product continue to grow even as I saw my way out.”
In September 2019, Eagle gave her notice and became a full-time entrepreneur. Since then, she’s seen steady growth in her business—from 10 gallons every three weeks when she started to 360 gallons every three weeks today. And she’s taken the next step: she launched a kombucha bar within Millennial Brewing’s taproom in downtown Fort Myers. “I find the best situations come from a place of openness and honesty and collaboration,” Eagle says of the conversation that led to Millennial offering to sublease space within their brewery. “It’s important to have conversations with people. Your community isn’t going to know your struggles or your strengths if you’re not going out and being open with them.”
This idea of community has been crucial to Eagle’s success. At Gartner, she found herself surrounded by a group of empowering women who offered advice and encouragement. “You need to have a support group, whether that be friends or family or your partner,” she advises other aspiring entrepreneurs. And make sure they have the right frame of mind. “You want people in your life who encourage you to be adventurous and allow you to find something you’re passionate about.”
For women entrepreneurs in particular, this sense of adventure is crucial. “Don’t be afraid to be empowered,” she says. “Let yourself feel like a badass.”
Photos courtesy of Laurenmarie.co (3) and Grind and Press photography (1)