Brisbane-based Yaala Sparkling, an Indigenous-owned company that produces alcohol-free sparking drinks using native ingredients, is aiming to scale up production after gaining the support of entrepreneur and ‘shark’ investor Dr Catriona Wallace.
Founded in early 2023 after a year of research and development, Yaala Sparkling has already secured a distribution deal with Dan Murphy’s.
Yaala Sparkling, co-founded by mother-and-daughter team Tara and Mel Croker, secured a $125,000 investment from Wallace during an appearance on Shark Tank.
Tara Croker, who leveraged her marketing background to help create the premium soft-drink brand, says the investment and input from Wallace will place the company in a ‘better position' to produce at scale and grow nationally.
“We are thrilled to have Dr Catriona Wallace as an investor in Yaala,” Croker says. “Her deep knowledge and experience will be valuable in taking our business to its next stage of growth.”
Yaala Sparkling is aiming to tap into the fast-growing native foods and botanicals industry which is said to be worth up to $50 million a year in Australia.
“Yet less than 2 per cent of businesses in the native food sector are Indigenous-owned,” Croker says.
“Our mission with Yaala Sparkling is to establish an Indigenous-owned business in the native food industry and increase First Nations representation in the industry.
“At Yaala Sparkling we work with First Nations suppliers throughout our supply chain and business, including wild harvesters, local farmers, and artists.
“Any business using native plants and knowledge passed down over generations has a duty and responsibility to preserve traditional knowledge and invest back into the community.”
Yaala Sparkling currently produces two flavours - Lemon Myrtle & Native Blossom and Davidson Plum & Waratah.
Lemon myrtle has properties akin to a superfood, while Davidson plum is one of the most nutritionally powerful native Australian fruits that contains up to 100 times the levels of vitamin C of an orange.
Yaala means ‘the present moment’ in the Wiradjuri language, which the company says defines its mission to bring the ancient knowledge of First Nations people to the present through its sparkling water products infused with native Australian botanicals.
Wallace says she chose to invest in Yaala Sparkling because the products fill an ‘unmet need in the soft drink industry’.
“Indigenous inspired and Australian native plant flavoured sparkling water will be hugely successful, not only in Australia, but internationally,” she says.
“The care, crafting and quality of these drinks is second to none and the entrepreneurs are exceptional.
“I have worked with many Indigenous-led businesses in the past and I am so thrilled to be teaming up with Mel and Tara to bring this business to scale."
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