The story of how I, as an aspiring entrepreneur, came to find the magic of guayusa and a family of inspiring and energizing people.
Hailing from Ecuador, the Amazon jungle and the nature it embodies, has always been a place that fascinates me, drawing me in with both its mystique and natural wonders. From the first time I set foot into the jungle’s tree lined walls, it’s been a place that has made me feel alive. After meeting a local Indigenous group at a young age, I was captivated by the power of their culture and their efforts of experimentation, community and knowledge from their ancestors. As a teenager I travelled into the jungle to volunteer and help these communities, eating worms “chontacuros” and wild meats caught in the jungle, sipping guayusa tea around the fire and sharing stories and learning so much more about our world.
Before Wayaka was born I was stuck in a rut. Though successful in the corporate creative world, my work left me feeling like I wasn’t serving my true purpose. I knew there was something more for me, and as a natural entrepreneur, networking, listening and experimenting have always been my drivers. All along the way I always felt that energy is the common force between all of us people, we need it to survive and it's the engine of everything we do
A few years ago, it was fate that brought Demetrio and I together. As a young boy, he lived in the Amazon jungle and this brought me back to crossing his path when I was a volunteer years prior. We left the city to put our boots on the ground and lived in the jungle to understand how these communities lived and find our place in helping preserve their way of life in this complicated world. We nurtured relationships and focused on their specific goals. It was the power of our collaboration where Waykana was born.
The road has taken us on a number of avenues and alleyways of both triumphs and failures. From developing our sustainable supply chain that is preserving and empowering the Indigenous way of life, to sharing our products internationally through Europe and North America, I’ve learned so much as a business owner, dreamer and citizen of this beautiful planet.
Starting with our loose leaf tea, we partnered with local shops in Ecuador who were willing to take a chance on our products. We’re proud to now offer an array of organic guayusa products, teas and drinks that are steeped in our belief of living a productive, fulfilled and healthy lifestyle. For me, our Original Guyaysa loose leaf tea, our first product, is my favourite for its simplicity while taking me back to where Wayaka started.
When I think about failure, it wasn’t so long ago though where this dream and Waykana itself nearly slipped through our fingers. Clearly our strategy wasn’t working and I had to seek the support and guidance of those smarter than me. I had to admit my defeat knowing moving any further in this direction would let so many people down. Augmenting my approach and utilizing each individual of my team helped us find our winning ways again.
Where the Waykana family stands today is far from where we started. Guyausa is our beloved ingredient and we want to share more energy with the world. We’re growing to increase our product offerings, with an unsteady focus to delivering organic products from the jungle to your home. We believe in the power of people, that’s why we’re investing more in our partners and Indigenous farmers so that they can preserve Pacha Mamma and the Amazon rainforest.
I’m often asked how I use my guayusa, and I realize it’s become such an important part of my routine that I often don’t think about it. I start my day with our Original Loose Leaf, my favourite as mentioned earlier, clearing my head and helping me organize my ideas and focus my day. On those days that I know are busy, I plan to carry one of our flavoured teas because the fruity and herbal blends are the spark I need in the afternoons. On the go, I always have a few of our cold energy drinks in the fridge, Red Berry is a staple at home.
It has powered me through the whole journey, and today we can proudly say that on September 1st 2021, Waykana became the first start-up to enter Quito’s stock market!
To Waykana’s family, friends, customers, followers, firm believers, recent discoverers and wandering individuals I say, the mark we bestow on this world will be what defines us, and Waykana’s natural guayusa energy can get you there.
To more and more years of healthy energy!
-Juan David Gomez