Brisbane-based Yaala Sparkling, an Indigenous-owned company specializing in alcohol-free sparkling drinks infused with native ingredients, is gearing up for expansion following a significant investment from entrepreneur and ‘shark’ investor Dr. Catriona Wallace.
Established in early 2023 after a year of intensive research and development, Yaala Sparkling has already secured a distribution deal with Dan Murphy’s, one of Australia’s leading liquor retailers. The company was co-founded by the mother-and-daughter team of Tara and Mel Croker, with Tara leveraging her marketing expertise to create this premium soft-drink brand.
During their appearance on Shark Tank, Yaala Sparkling secured a $125,000 investment from Dr. Catriona Wallace, known for her strategic acumen. This support, combined with Wallace’s insights, positions the company to scale up production and expand nationally.
Yaala Sparkling aims to tap into the burgeoning native foods and botanicals industry, estimated to be worth up to $50 million annually in Australia. However, less than 2 percent of businesses in this sector are Indigenous-owned. Yaala Sparkling is on a mission to change that by establishing an Indigenous-owned presence in the native food industry, contributing to First Nations representation, and preserving traditional knowledge.
The company collaborates with First Nations suppliers throughout its supply chain, including wild harvesters, local farmers, and artists. Yaala Sparkling currently offers two enticing flavors: Lemon Myrtle & Native Blossom and Davidson Plum & Waratah. Lemon myrtle, considered a superfood, and Davidson plum, a nutritionally potent native Australian fruit rich in vitamin C, showcase the brand’s commitment to indigenous ingredients.
The name “Yaala” derives from the Wiradjuri language, meaning ‘the present moment,’ reflecting the company’s mission to bridge ancient First Nations knowledge with contemporary consumers through its sparkling water products infused with native Australian botanicals.
Dr. Catriona Wallace expressed her enthusiasm for investing in Yaala Sparkling, recognizing that the brand addresses an unmet need in the soft drink industry. She believes that Indigenous-inspired, Australian native plant-flavored sparkling water has the potential for tremendous success, both locally and internationally. Wallace praised the quality, craftsmanship, and dedication of the Yaala Sparkling team, highlighting the exceptional nature of the entrepreneurs behind the venture.
With this investment and the guidance of Dr. Catriona Wallace, Yaala Sparkling is poised to make a significant impact in the beverage industry while promoting Indigenous ownership, culture, and sustainable practices.
As the brand continues to grow, it will not only quench the thirst of consumers but also contribute to the preservation of traditional knowledge and the empowerment of Indigenous communities
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