Sometimes fate comes in on an unexpected wave. When Squeeze Juiceworks owner Kelly Lessem asked Tonya Donati to brew kombucha for her shop, Donati agreed without hesitation. Little did she know, that moment would be the birth of Mother Kombucha. One of St. Pete's most beloved local brands, Mother Kombucha brought the delicious probiotic drink to local consumers well before the craze began. Donati's operation has grown, from a tiny 100 square foot industrial kitchen space with room for draft-only batches, to a 13,000 square foot bottling enterprise that has taken over Tampa Bay and made its way into major retailers across the state, including Publix.
Years in St. Pete
Organizations involved in
Mother Kombucha, Mother Kombucha, and Mother Kombucha. I do a little bit with Keep St. Pete Local and the Boss Babes group. Between parenting and running my business I’ve had very little time to get involved. So that is on my list of “to do.”
What gets you out of bed every day?
The excitement of all of the new challenges I’m going to face between parenting and running my own business. Never knowing what’s going to happen. I don’t like monotony and boring and repetitive.
Why St. Pete?
I’m a fourth generation Floridian. We moved to St. Pete to be close to family in Tampa when we were ready to settle down and have kids. I’d never been to St. Pete before, or lived in the St. Pete area, but it was very charming and interesting.
What is one habit that you keep?
I always make sure I’m up an hour or two before my children so that I have time to myself, whether it’s running, spending time with the dog, catching up on work, getting some reading in.
Who are some people that influence you?
My dad has strongly influenced me. He was a business owner my entire life. And my kids, actually, they’ve taught me how to put things into perspective.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
This is both in business and in life, but to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
I wish that I had taken some business classes and had a little bit more of a business background.
We’re in a period of really large growth right now, and looking at some pretty exciting line extensions that we’ll be launching early 2019.