We had the good fortune of connecting with Josh Makler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Josh, the decisions we make often shape our story in profound ways. What was one of the most difficult decisions you’ve had to make?
The most difficult decision I have had to make recently was to jump out of my comfort zone of a comfy job and work with my previous company and decide to make the push into starting my own business. It is such a leap into the unknown with the new task of placing every single hat and role onto your own plate. Amazing freedom comes from the ability to make all of the decisions and control the process, but this comes with the scary fact that you are going to be the one who will also make mistakes and fail.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started my career in brewing in 2015 post graduating from college. I learned to love craft beer during my time at school at the University of Redlands and Hangar 24 and decided I would work part-time for breweries while I was pursuing a potential career in baseball. After making the decision to move onto a full career in the food and beverage industry, I worked every position front of house in bars and restaurants part-time, while pursuing a full-time career in the brewing industry.
I got the wonderful opportunity to work with Boochcraft as the their first brewer and eventually ended up helping them lead production with exponential growth over a period of a few years. I was getting the opportunity to work and learn how to do everything from ordering ingredients, brewing, production, and even lab work. I eventually decided to move on and I went to work with good friends of mine over at Novo Brazil Brewing/Nova Kombucha. There I helped plant seeds for hard kombucha growth and the Nova Kombucha brand with them, while also learning more overall about the brewing process of beer. I worked on a ton of fun R&D projects with them as I began to expand my creativity in product development.
I ended up leaving the brewing industry for a year at this point to pursue a management position with a local San Diego Bar/Restaurant called the Project Bar & Grill. It was a great time and learning experience but my goal was to get back into the industry of brewing and creating products. At this point I partnered with a group of 3 University of San Diego friends and we started Juneshine Hard Kombucha. I brought my Hard Kombucha and product/flavor development expertise and created the entire line of Juneshine Hard Kombucha products which have become a staple at a national level today. In the 3 years I was with Juneshine after starting the brand we had grown the business to a level of ten times the size. I operated as the Founding Brewmaster and Director of Brewing Operations for the business before I decided to split from the company in 2019.
My split from Juneshine was a huge challenge as I made it to follow more of my own path as the company and myself had grown apart. I was looking to develop and operate some of my own alcohol brands and I needed to make a hard choice to move on and look for a new start. This is when I partnered with a long time friend of mine Alex Montelbano, and a second partner in the creative side of things, Ryder England. We started Kové Hard Yerba Mate after noticing a gap in the market for a new alternative alcohol and we are proud to share the first hard yerba mate produce with the world.
There were many challenges and lessons that pushed me and brought me to where I am now, and I think the hardest was recognizing and understanding that all of the hard work I was doing and putting in for so many different people and their businesses, was gearing me up for the eventual foundation of Kové Hard Yerba Mate. I enjoyed every experience and place I worked with, but it is truly a gift when the extreme hard work put it is now for my own business venture.
I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from most of the hard kombucha companies in San Diego and believe I have been able to help and grow each and every one of them, I hope I can provide the same to my business and more in the future and continue to share my knowledge and expertise with more people and continue to grow the alternative alcohol market.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite places are divey and local, I love to support the smaller intimate bars & restaurants that make San Diego such a wonderful place.
Friday post-work for a happy hour over at Home & Away Old Town, where everyone feels like a regular would be the perfect start. Then a quick brisk jaunt over to Trattoria Don Pietro where you can have some of the best Sicilian Style food and cocktails around town and an amazing bright atmosphere. The owners there are amazing and make you feel like family.
Saturday starts with a trip to the balboa park 9 hole golf course in the morning which is fun for all levels of players, and then some relaxation time out at mission beach. Post the beach lunch at The Balboa Bar & Grill where you can get San Diego’s best burgers. Next, I would spend a fun evening in my local home of South Park & Golden Hill with some of my favorite places The Rose Wine Bar, Fernside Bar, and Counterpoint. Maybe even a late-night martini and ribeye at San Diego’s finest supper club Turf Club.
On Sunday I would take them to our fun factory called the Acre of Awesome down in Barrio Logan, San Diego. We as Kové have partnered with Thorn Brewing Co, HotMess Pizza, Sideyard Cocktails & BBQ, and Rebru Spirits to create an amazing space of entertainment, food, and beverages. You can spend an entire weekend there and you can come back for a new experience every time. BBQ, Pizza, and an array of drinks that will have you amazed!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to recognize my parents Mark & Sharon Makler and my fiancé Kanela Matey first overall They are my support system and have been with me the entire way supporting me through my career and the eventual start of the businesses I have put most of my time & heart into. I also would like to recognize my baseball career and the many coaches I have learned from and trusted over the years. I firmly believe that a strong hard-working attitude developed from years of positive thinking coaches and sports figures in my life have lead me to where I am and to be able to start my own business.