Elixir Kombucha Fuels Community Revitalization in West Louisville

Along the bend of the Ohio River, Louisville’s historic Portland neighborhood, on the western edge of downtown, is attracting new businesses – businesses like Elixir Kombucha.


Behind the successful Louisville-based kombucha brand stands the husband-and-wife team of Corey and Danielle Wood. The University of Louisville graduates and high school sweethearts have backgrounds in healthcare and are fascinated with health and well-being.


While the couple have been passionate about diet, exercise, and health for years, their love for kombucha wasn’t born until 2013, when their aunt introduced them to the gut-healing powers of the bubbly, probiotic-rich, fermented tea. Soon afterward, the Woods began homebrewing the “booch” for friends and family.

Two years later, a family member mentioned the kombucha to a local juice bar and offered to carry the product if the Woods decided to distribute it.


After gathering some savings, the couple launched Elixir Kombucha in 2016 out of a commercial kitchen incubator in West Louisville called Chef Space (chefspace.org), supported by nonprofit Community Ventures (cvky.org).


Since 2015, Chef Space, Louisville’s first kitchen incubator dedicated to assisting emerging food industry entrepreneurs, has provided space, expertise, and capital to help its members launch their business ideas. The incubator has created 400 jobs, helped entrepreneurs launch over 65 food-related ventures, and graduated 12 businesses, like Elixir Kombucha, to brick-and-mortar locations in Louisville. Currently, the incubator is constructing a new wing to create more commercial kitchen space to accommodate the needs of food industry entrepreneurs.


“We have been together for 19 years, married for 12, and running this business for seven and a half. Our married friends think we are crazy because they could never imagine running a business with their spouse. They say they would be at each other’s throats,” laughed Corey Wood. “And of course, there are disagreements and hard decisions that must be made, but we draw a line between our relationship as business partners and as a married couple, and we don’t cross that line.”


The incubator provided affordable rent, food-centric business education, technical assistance, and networking opportunities – precisely what the Woods needed to launch and grow the start-up for nearly seven years smoothly.


Health solutions aren’t the only driver for the Woods. Communal responsibility also has played a role in how they have built their business.  Expanding into brick-and-mortar space in the Portland neighborhood, just a stone’s throw from Chef Space, where it all began, is part of a larger goal to create jobs and reinvigorate the historic riverside neighborhood. But the path to get where they are requires some additional capital.


According to Wood, there comes a tipping point where every thriving business must find the financial means to take it to the next level or risk complete failure. In early 2023, Elixir had reached that tipping point, with an intense need for equipment upgrades, an expanding inquiry waiting list, and a desire to create jobs in a Louisville neighborhood in need, the kombucha company, when searching for funding.


“Growing a consumer-packaged goods business on cash flow alone is quite difficult,” Wood explained. “Access to this affordable capital through Community Ventures will allow us to expand Elixir into new markets and hire additional team members from here in Portland, making a meaningful impact on our community.”


Elixir gained access to the affordable funding they needed through Community Ventures’ Equity Boost, a program that supports businesses owned by, located in, or hiring from underserved neighborhoods. “Since Elixir launched at Chef Space, we have considered Corey and Danielle part of the Community Ventures family,” said Shirie Hawkins, Community Ventures’ President of Everything Equity. “They are a dynamic couple, each with different strengths that they contribute to their business. And their heart for the people of West Louisville and the revitalization happening there shines through. When Elixir needed funding to go next-level, we were happy to be able to help.”


With funding in hand, Elixir moved a 500-square-foot incubator commercial kitchen space to a 3,100-square-foot workspace in the Portland neighborhood. Elixir has poured capital into equipment and automation, increasing fermentation capacity from 750 gallons to 4,000 gallons and adding automatic chilling and carbonation tanks that free up the team to tackle other projects.


The future looks bright for the award-winning kombucha couple and their beverage company. In their new location, Elixir Kombucha has been able to supply their kombucha to many retailers on their waiting list. As that list shrinks, new opportunities—like a partnership with the grocery chain giant Publix—continue to pop up.

“We are excited to work with Publix,” Wood said. “Elixir will provide a locally-crafted kombucha option for their customers in all Kentucky locations.


“Danielle and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Elixir Kombucha. We still get up daily excited to drive to work and run this business together. It has been an awesome journey, and I can’t imagine doing anything else with anyone else.”


To learn more about Kentucky’s Elixir Kombucha, visit https://elixirkombucha.com.


To learn more about the services offered by the culinary incubator Chef Space, visit chefspace.org, and for more information on business capital like Equity Boost offered by Community Ventures, visit cvky.org.