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Q&A with Founder of Symbiota, Amber Fairweather

by Hannah Geddes |

Tell us a bit about yourself? 

I am a qualified teacher with a PGDipArts (Psychology). I live in Whangarei with my husband and three children who are under the age of 9 years. 

Currently alongside Symbiota, I work as a wellbeing coach for tertiary students and I teach senior secondary students psychology. 

I am a passionate foodie, love to travel, love to learn and interact with many different people from a wide range of backgrounds. I am passionate about seeing others succeed. 

Why did you start Symbiota? 

I tend to be a person that loves new challenges, adventures and helping others. Through my own autoimmune disease and study towards a masters in psychology, it became impossible to ignore the link between gut health and our mental, physical and emotional health.

I noticed that the NZ market lacked fermentation kits and pots that were not only beautiful but easy and safe to use. Our family was also at a stage where my husband was working immensely long hours, we were missing quality time as a family and I wanted to bring in an additional income to ease the stress it was placing on our family. So alongside teaching full-time, I designed and developed all the Symbiota fermentation pots and kits; and started Symbiota. I love hearing our customer success stories and absolutely thrive off the interactions with our wonderfully supportive customers - thank you :) 

What do you love most about the world of fermenting?

There is always something new to learn. I love speaking to people from different cultures and learning about all the different and historical ferments from around the world. I am naturally a problem solver, and I love troubleshooting fermentation and conquering different ferments.

It is just fascinating that for all of time, we have lived symbiotically with these unseen microorganisms. Unfortunately, modern day living has forgotten about how the small things make big impacts, but luckily the knowledge of these microorganisms and fermenting is gaining more attention with fascinating findings.  

What has been your biggest fermenting fail?

Hmm…I am not sure about a fail. But I do have to admit, although I love eating it, making sourdough bread is not at the top of my agenda. I am quite time poor and find the process quite time consuming. So rather, I use the sourdough starter to make crackers, crumpets and waffles.

Who do you look up to in the health and fitness world?

I cannot think of one person I look up to, however, I do read a lot of published scientific research. I do enjoying seeing what different people do, and learn pieces of information from a variety of sources but wouldn’t say there is one person I necessarily “look up to”. 

What is your favourite fermented food and drink?

My favourite fermented food is a tie between sauerkraut and our fermented hot mix (made with the fermented hot sauce kit. This kit offers you the option of just making a fermented hot mix, or then to proceed to making a fermented hot sauce).

My favourite fermented drink would have to be water kefir. 

What is your number one tip for fermenting beginners?

Use suitable equipment. Taking short cuts simply results in more opportunities for frustrating failures (and  waste of produce). 

And my bonus tip is using the correct ratios required for each ferment.