High school senior expands self-made soda company in Seward

(Photos by Susie Voss) Tree Fort Soda creator Eva Duckler stands next to equipment she uses to brew her artisinal herbal root beer.

It’s not every day a 17-year-old creates her own soda company. Especially right before her first semester of college.

Eva Duckler started Tree Fort Soda in May 2014 with her brother, David Duckler, who owns Verdant Tea in Minneapolis’ Seward neighborhood. The root beer has sold so well at the tea shop that the two are planning to expand the business to local shops such as Seward Co-op and Kopplin’s Coffee.

“I never saw myself starting a business but it just sort of happened,” said Eva Duckler, “It’s a blessing.”

And the blessings continue: Roughly two months after Eva developed a business plan, Tree Fort Soda became an LLC and was picked up by Classic Provisions, a local distributing company that specializes in artisan foods. In mid-August, Tree Fort Soda is planning to move the brewing operation from the commercial kitchen at Verdant Tea to its own warehouse, which will allow the business to produce roughly 15 barrels of root beer per week as opposed to its current 1,000 bottles.

Eva and David come from an entrepreneurial family. Their father, Max Duckler, started CaptionMax, a closed captioning and subtitles service that also operates out of Seward. Max Duckler said he always told his children to avoid going into business because of its high stress levels, but he still couldn’t be more proud of his daughter. “I was thrilled to see Eva’s passion evolve into a business,” he said.

Eva Duckler said she taught herself how to brew root beer after she developed new tea flavors for Verdant. The root beer is hand brewed with herbs and flowers, she said, like marigold and chicory. It also contains no artificial flavors, she said, which makes brewing it more complicated.

For now, Eva Duckler brews and bottles the product by hand, she said, using a bottling line that she and David Duckler constructed themselves. The current system will change as the business expands, she said, and as she prepares for her first semester at Wellesley.

But Eva Ducker said she’s not leaving the business far behind. Her brother will help manage in her absence, she said, and she’ll try to run the administrative side of the business from college. The two are currently looking at applications for a new brew master, Eva Duckler said, but if business continues to pick up, she’s open to taking a semester off to come back.

“Finals week is going to come along and then I’m going to have an order for 25,000 bottles of something,” she joked.

“That’s what we’re here for,” David Duckler replied.

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  • That's a "feel good" article. Way to go, Eva! - by Carol Stedman Johansen on Sat, 08/09/2014 - 2:35pm

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Susie Voss