HUNTINGTON – As a counselor, teacher, and musician, Huntingtonian Mark Smith has made a name for himself educating others and doing his part to create a smarter, kinder Tri-State.
But, of late, he is increasingly also known for elevating the area’s beverage game as one of the first homebrewers to take kombucha to market.
Winners of $10,000 from the Strong Mountain Communities program at the first-ever West Virginia Good Jobs Conference at Tamarack in Beckley in November, Mark Smith and his wife Gina Hart-Smith have spun their exploration of a healthy hobby – brewing kombucha – into an official side business that has launched in Huntington.
Officially placed at The Wild Ramp for Small Business Saturday, Elevate Elixirs’ kombucha and its kombucha shrub (drink mixers) are now found at Butter It Up, River and Rail Bakery and Studio 8, where Gina Hart-Smith is one of the area’s veteran yoga instructors.
A Point Pleasant, West Virginia, native and Marshall University graduate, Mark Smith said the couple was introduced to kombucha, the newly popular but ancient fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened black or green tea drink, when they were attending the Floyd Yoga Jam, a big festival in Floyd, Virginia, about four years ago.
“Initially Gina didn’t like it, but we had it shortly after that at Bonnaroo, and she can be prone to dehydration at festivals, so we stumbled upon this really cool kombucha stand, and we found a ginger kombucha that we both liked. It instantly made us feel…
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