Mushrooms are loved around the world for both their savory, umami taste and their medicinal qualities. A rising star among these fabulous mushrooms is chaga (Inonotus obliquus), which is considered one of the most powerful antioxidants, so much so that it is being explored in cancer studies. Here, Gavin Escolar from The Chaga Company tells more about this mushroom and how it is used to fortify foods and beverages.
GGBA: How do you use chaga in your company’s products and where do you get it from? Do you grow it?
Gavin Escolar: The Chaga Company infuses the highest quality antioxidant superfood into coffee, tea, powders, tinctures, chocolates, salts and cookies.
Chaga is a superfood closely related to truffles with the highest amount of antioxidants – seven times more than acai, the highest amount of immune-boosting properties – and it tastes great!
I sustainably source my chaga from deep within the Arctic Circle in Alaska and continually test its potency to ensure we provide the highest quality chaga for everyone. I then infuse this special superfood with the finest teas, coffees, chocolates, snacks and other products. I believe chaga should be incorporated into your daily routine for health and wellness.
GGBA: Do you believe that chaga has improved your own health, and did that inspire you to start The Chaga Company?
Gavin Escolar: Chaga changed my life for the better. Chaga gave me energy, clarity and focus. Chaga also helped me with my inflammation and it made me lose 35 lbs. I was so convinced by [the health benefits of] chaga that I opened a shop in Juneau, Alaska, and stayed there for a year before returning to my hometown of San Francisco.
I started in San Francisco at the San Francisco Mushroom Fair in 2018 and grew the business to have an online presence, events, and many Farmers Markets throughout the Bay Area, from Napa in Carmel Valley.
And when the pandemic hit in 2020, it became clear that everyone needs to have chaga in their daily lives due to its high antioxidant compounds and immune-boosting properties. My business has been center stage in the wellness and nutrition scene.
GGBA: Who are some of your role models, and especially those who have helped influence your business?
Gavin Escolar: Pete Slosberg, Founder of Pete’s Wicked Ale and Advisor to SCORE SF – SBA helps me with my retail distribution, corporate direction and general priorities. I also credit my knowledge of chaga to Alaska Natives, mycologists like Lawrence Millman, Robert Rogers, and members of the Mycology Society of San Francisco.
I suggest going to workshops provided by the SBA and GGBA for their networking contacts. The people I met and the workshops I attended were essential to the growth of my small business.
GGBA: Why did you decide to join the GGBA, and how long have you been a member?
Gavin Escolar: I decided to join the GGBA to be with my community. This is my first year as a member of GGBA and I experience the community and the desire for all of us to grow and develop.
A small business like mine needs a community to meet and grow together. I find that the GGBA has a great group of people with common interests.
GGBA: How has being a member of GGBA helped your business so far?
Gavin Escolar: Being a member of the GGBA gave me confidence to talk to bigger companies for contracts and gave me exclusive resources only available to certified members. It allowed me to meet other small business owners, who are in the same boat, for collaboration.
I find the networking meetings (currently online) to be fruitful, revealing and interesting, not to mention fun! Meeting cool, like-minded people in different industries helps me and my business grow.
GGBA: Do you attend GGBA’s monthly Make Contact networking events? Have they been beneficial to you and your business, and would you recommend them to others?
Gavin Escolar: Yes, I have started looking up contacts online and I am looking forward to meeting someone. I would recommend going to networking events. A collaborative effort to help each other as a community yields better results than doing [most] things yourself.
GGBA: What other advice would you give to someone considering starting their own business?
Gavin Escolar: Get started, plan, and find a mentor who can help you through the gestation period of your business. Passion, perseverance and courage are essential to open your business with a combination of financial knowledge and focus.
There will be many obstacles and challenges, but focus, ethics, and motivation always outweigh the obstacles. Have fun and believe in yourself and the business you’ve built. You will always find a solution and an opportunity to grow and succeed.
GGBA: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Gavin Escolar: Live your dreams; courage is when you start your own business and fuel your journey with chaga along the way. You are your own master and your business will show the quality of your work and your personality. So live your business and live your life. Enjoy!
Posted on March 10, 2022