Today is Small Business Saturday. As I woke up this morning, I began to reflect on this crazy journey we have taken over the past 4 years. Wes and I started the business with all of the money we had between us. Neither of us came from wealthy backgrounds or had stacked checking accounts. Like most people, we lived paycheck to paycheck. There was no safety net, no backup plan. No market research. No investors. No loans. No proof positive that people would care or even want to buy juice. What we did have was a deep faith that what we were about to bring to Nashville was life changing.
Our story started after I became very sick. When I was in the hospital during my illness, no one knew what was happening to my body. While in the hospital, I thought to myself. "I wish I could have done things differently. Why didn't I take more risks? Why didn't I fight to live an adventurous life? Why did I allow fear to prevent me from truly living?"
After buying a juicer, I started feeling better. Every glass I made for myself, felt like a gift from God. My strength and energy was improving and my pain started to subside. Once out of the hospital and back at work, I made a commitment to not take the safe path any longer. I was grateful for my corporate job, but knew It was time to make the change. That day, I shared the idea of "juice. Nashville" with Wes. Excitedly, I explained the idea. We would open Tennessee's first cold-pressed juicery. It would be called "juice." because that's what we would be known for - making the best, handcrafted cold-pressed juice. He looked at me and said "Ok. I support you. Give your two weeks notice. We will figure this out." And, I did. That very day.
That was in June 2011. In July 2011, we got to work. In a few weeks, we created a website, setup social media channels, found our logo, secured a label design, sourced bottles, found a commercial kitchen location, begged the "Department of Agriculture" to allow us to sell unpasteurized juice (they said "no way" at first), secured spots at the Farmers Markets, created recipes, named blends, hired a bookkeeper, found a place that would sell us produce, created content, had business cards made... oh, and drank a lot of juice!
In August 2011, Wes and I got ready for our first Farmers Market. We prepped, blended and hand bottled 40 bottles of juice on our red Norwalk. No one knew who we were the day we setup our table at the Nashville Farmers Market. No one had ever heard of cold pressed juice. Apprehensively, we had someone walk up to our table and sample "snap.", carrot, apple and ginger. It felt like forever as she took a sip. Her eyes lit up from within, she smiled and she said "that was the best juice I have ever had!" And she bought the very first bottle of cold pressed juice sold in Tennessee. That customer will never know the impact she made on our lives.
My family and I worked our behinds off. Pressing juice is hard work! Together, we lifted hundreds of pounds of produce, scrubbed every fruit and vegetable clean, chopped the produce to fit inside the 1 inch feed tube, cleaned pulp off of the floor, the ceiling, the walls. We blended and bottled in the middle of the night on most days. We carried coolers packed with ice and juice to the Farmers markets, stood outside in the bitter cold and the heavy summer heat. Wes worked after his "9 to 5" job and Kiana would come to the kitchen after school. It was hard work. But, it was exhilarating to see our vision come to life. Slowly, we started building a team, expanding our juice family and word of mouth spread around town.
Fast forward four years later, it amazes me to see how the community has supported our family's business. We now have a remarkably hard working and passionate Operations and Retail team. Each dollar that has been spent at "juice." has allowed our team and their families to grow. (One day I will write a book about the last four years, about the things people don't know about the entrepreneur life - the highs and lows!) It has been an amazing and many times painful and difficult journey. But, one thing I can say...it has been an adventure! And I am so proud of what we have been able to build within the community we live in.
We still have not taken investors. We constantly reinvest back into our business to grow our business. Your support is the reason why we are here. We are a true "mom & pop" shop and are proud to be an independent business in Nashville!
Today, we want to say "thank you" for your love and support you have shown our juice family. Because you chose to "Shop Local" you have and will continue to shape the lives of many people. I encourage you to shop and and support the small businesses in the community you live in. It truly makes all the difference.
Shop Small! Happy Holidays!