What did you want to be when you were a child?
I always wanted to be a midwife. I actually choose to work in Rochester after college because there was a midwifery program in the area. Unfortunately, the program was discontinued the year I moved here but I guess other plans were in store for me.
How did you get started in your current business?
The journey that led me to where I am today started over nine years ago when I took on the responsibility as primary caregiver for my cousin, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I was working full-time as a Cytotechnologist (screening for cancer) at the University of Rochester, finishing my Masters at the Simon School of Business, and taking care of my family. I was under constant stress and started to feel lost, depressed, and completely unbalanced. I was on the verge of “losing it” when I knew I needed a change and started researching ways to spiritually and mentally cleanse my mind/body and happened to come across juicing fasting. I was immediately intrigued so in November of 2008, I decided to embark on a 10 day juice fast that ultimately changed my life. Post cleanse I felt refreshed, renewed, and revived. For many years I suffered from severe digestive issues, endometriosis, and PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) and had accepted all of it as something I just have to learn to live with. It wasn’t until I started juicing and changing my diet that I got to experience the power of consuming fresh organic fruit and vegetables and knew I had to share it with the world.
In 2010, I got my certification as a raw food instructor and later as a holistic health coach. I was excited to gain more knowledge and offer better support to others who were looking for alternative options to improve their health. I started a small raw vegan meet up group in my home where I taught classes and eventually started hosting and catering brunches at a friend’s shop on Park Ave. In 2012, I decided to purchase a 1970 Aristocrat camper with my tax refund so that I could convert it to a juicing trailer and sell fresh juice and smoothies at our local famers market. Business picked up and by May 2013, I decided to quit my stable job (of 9 years) at the hospital to open up my first retail location on Park Ave. To add to the excitement (or craziness) we decided to have our beautiful son, Isaiah Reign the same year. Go big or go home! After 2 years on Park Ave. I was offered a great opportunity to join ventures and share a space with M/Body, an amazing local gym on University Ave. owned and led by Molly Flaherty. The collaboration was wonderful but I was ready to take on a bigger space of our own as business continued to grow.
What were some of the difficulties you faced in starting?
Besides the obvious financial component of building a business from the ground up, not being taken seriously (initially) has and continues to be a challenge. Luckily, I thrive when being challenged because it forces me to step up my game. I’m not saying this is always easy or that I enjoy every obstacle that I face, but it keeps my fire lit. The key is to remain true to yourself. You are your biggest advocate and you need to come off as confident to others so they know you mean business.
What is your best advice to someone just starting out? What advice do you wish someone had said to you?
Trust your gut and go after what you want. There will never be a perfect time to start so you might as well dive in and start kicking. I remember when I thought I finally had a way out of the hospital only to find out I was alone... correction... I mean that’s when I realized I was in control and if I wanted to make things happen I had to do it myself. I’m not saying things will go smoothly because the truth is you have to learn through experience but there is no better way to learn. I am now thankful for all the challenges and hurdles I’ve had to jump because they have shaped me into who I am today. Confidence even when it may not be at the all time high should be your driving force. You ARE good enough and if you don’t believe it others won’t either. With that being said, having a good support system is crucial to staying on track without losing your way.
Lettering by Lanni Maszerowski
How do you find balance? What inspires you?
Nature. Being outside, hiking in the woods or on a mountain brings me a great sense of peace. I was born in Manhattan but raised in the Catskills so my love for the outdoors runs deep. My family, especially my children inspire me daily and help me remember what’s important even on the most stressful days. My customers are also a huge source of inspiration. Their commitment to making better choices to improve their health and their gratitude for what we offer keeps me going because we are stronger together.
What is your favorite part of what you do?
Connecting with people in the community on a daily basis and empowering them to take control of their health so they can live more vibrant lives. I have always been one to serve and take care of others so it seems natural. Providing a service and product that makes my customers feel good and is good for them makes it all worth it.
What do you find most challenging?
Control and balance... Sometimes my desire to control makes me loose sight of balance but I am learning that in order to gain more balance, I need to let go of some control. I am also learning that asking for help and more importantly actually accepting it will make me a better business owner, partner and mother.
Name some local creatives that you really admire.
There are so many creative souls in this city it would be impossible to name them all. But here are a few that I love...
Mike Calabrese - owner of Javas & Good Luck who has been a major role model, supporter, mentor and customer since the beginning.
Andrea Parros - owner of The Red Fern who kills it everyday and offers a warm space and delicious food for the local vegan community.
Sarah Rutherford - bad ass local artist and friend who makes this city and anywhere she goes a little more beautiful with her awe inspiring art