DON is a home-made ginger beer brand created by two brothers, Ayaan Abdur Raheem (13) and Umyr Ahmed (11). Born out of their love of experimentation, the online business has been growing and earning positive customer feedback since its inception earlier this year.
We had a chat with Ayaan to find out how it all started.
Lonumedhu: Tell us a bit about yourselves.
Ayaan: Me and my brother have a natural interest for adventure and experimenting. I read a lot on topics of my interest and watch experimentation videos along with my brother. We try those experiments mostly related to food, crafts and science. We get a lot of help from our parents in doing the experiments and they encourage us to try new things.
Lonumedhu: How did DON start?
Ayaan: As one of my interests was fermentation, I figured that the pandemic would be the perfect time to start learning how to make a fermented product. After watching videos on it and researching about it, I found out that ginger beer would be the easiest to make. All needed ingredients for it were readily available in Maldives. Several YouTube videos later, I was preparing the needed ingredients to make my very own ginger beer.
Lonumedhu: What inspired you to make a business out of making ginger beer?
Ayaan: The ginger beer we made was liked by almost all family members who tried it. After this success, I asked my mother to check if people outside our family would be interested in a home-made ginger beer. We got a lot of positive feedback and several people wanted to purchase the product.
Lonumedhu: How is DON’s ginger beer different from the usual commercial brands?
Ayaan: DON ginger beer is a wild-fermented and naturally carbonated beverage with only natural ingredients. The drink has a live culture of bacteria and yeast, and is rich in probiotics. Due to these reasons, the drink is not only refreshing but several of our regular customers use it to relieve digestive issues they have.
In contrast, if you read the ingredients list on most commercially available ginger beers, it reads, “carbonated water, sugar and flavouring,” which gives an artificial taste. The ones that are actually fermented are pasteurised, where all the beneficial probiotics are killed off.
DON ginger beer is a non-alcoholic beverage. As this is a fermented drink, we do thorough regular testing to ensure that our beverage conforms to non-alcoholic standards. We have in-house facilities to conduct testing on our products.
Lonumedhu: Who helps you the most with the business?
Ayaan: Everyone; my brother, my mother and my father, all help in making and selling the ginger beer. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do this. We divide the work among ourselves according to everyone's capabilities and available times.
Lonumedhu: How do you balance studies, other activities and the business?
Ayaan: Ginger beer production process isn’t that labour intensive, thus does not take too much time. We combine all of our ingredients in a large container, mix it, and then fill the bottles.
Other work which takes more time such as managing orders and interacting with customers on social media is done by my mother. Delivering DON ginger beer to our customers is handled by a third party through a commercial agreement. Raw materials supplied are also done by a third party. Hence, we have a lot of time for study and other activities.
Lonumedhu: What’s your advice to other kids your age who want to turn their passion into a business?
Ayaan: One of the best ways to start your own little business would be to work on something that you are interested in. This will ensure that you enjoy the work that you are doing. Get a lot of help from your elders as they have a lot of experience compared to us.
Always remember to help others along the way. Share your knowledge; it will not diminish your profit.
Lonumedhu: What are your plans for the future? Do you plan to expand the business?
Ayaan: We have plans to expand DON in the future. When we started, we produced two bottles of ginger beer per day. We currently make around 14 to 20 bottles per day. We have also been focusing on other products such as kombucha. A sample batch of kombucha has already been given to customers to try, and we have received very good feedback. We recently introduced DON’s honey-sweetened ginger beer, for health-conscious and diabetics customers.