Mmmm…cold-pressed, fresh, and healthy juice. Who can turn that down!? There’s nothing like nourishing your body and mind with something yummy and beneficial. Today, Annie Lawless, Co-Founder of Suja Juice, is here to talk shop on starting your own business and taking that big leap into the unknown! Big risks equal big rewards and we can’t wait to hear what she has to say!
You met your cofounders in San Diego and bonded with them over living a healthy lifestyle and receiving nutrition through foods and beverages that also tasted good! Tell us a little bit about how it went from just an idea to the multimillion-dollar brand it is today?
It really became more than idea when we began our small hand-delivery services of our juices. We received such a resonating response from our customers, so it was clear to us that this product was in high demand and truly wasn’t being served anywhere else. We knew we needed to get our small-scale business off the ground so we found two investors, who full-heartedly believed in our product, give us the push we needed in order to grow. Since then, the business has taken off. I really think it’s because the quality of our product is never compromised, so we can give the nation healthy and fortifying juices at an affordable price.
You began juicing at a young age to combat food allergies and improve your health, but did you ever imagine you would be creating a successful business out of something you have been doing for your own health?
I went so long suffering from Celiac Disease without really knowing how to treat it properly. Once I discovered how transformative juicing was for my body, my mood and my overall energy levels, I knew so many others could benefit from this solution. I am so grateful that through my own experience, I have been able to build a business to help others and provide healthy options to the masses.
What advice for Get It Girls do you have for those who think they may have noticed a void or a product missing the marketplace, but are too afraid to take the leap to build something to fill that missing space?
You just have to go for it! Start small by simply figuring out what it is you want to offer and create a prototype. Introduce this to your friends and family to see their reaction and learn how you can improve it. If it’s something you’re really passionate about, be daring and dive right in! Put all of your effort into it, because that’s what your great idea deserves.
How has your relationship grown with the partners of Suja?
We all come from different backgrounds and have different areas of expertise. I think that’s what has made our business so successful. We each contribute to an area of business that we excel at. From that, we are able to trust each other’s judgement and choices knowing we each serve a core part of the business. We know how to work together and in the end, we all just want what’s best for our brand.
What advice do you have for Get It Girls who are questioning if they should get a business partner or start their business solo?
Starting a business with my other co-founders was, for me, the best course of action, but it really depends on how YOU want to run your business. My co-founders and I both have different, but relevant, experience pertaining to juicing and business so we balance each other out. We each bring up points that the others may not have thought about so every decision is viewed from many angles. There’s nothing wrong with starting a business on your own though! Plenty of people do it and become very successful. It’s really up to you and how you thrive.
Suja can be found in some of the biggest retailers, including Target! Congrats! What has been your go-to market strategy for getting Suja on shelves and how difficult has it been getting products into some of these large retailers?
I think our biggest strength in getting Suja on shelves is the quality of our product and telling our story. You must have a strong presentation in place to display your brand, give an authentic story and explain how your product will grow their consumer base. Being able to prove that your product is well received and will sell is a win-win for everyone.
What advice do you have for those running small food and beverage businesses but are looking to get into larger stores?
I think it’s important that you start small and strategic. Tap into your local community and make sure you are in the local retailers that make sense for your brand. Once you are able to show how successful your product has been, then you’ll be able to head to the big companies and show how you can help them. However, larger stores also means larger product quantities! So just make sure you are able to provide the capital needed to make it happen! It’s all a growing process.
You take great care of your body and your health! What tips can you share for busy Get It Girls so that they can maintain a healthy lifestyle, while working full time, having families, maintaining a social life etc.?
One of my biggest beliefs is that you can’t always maintain a perfect work-life balance; I sure don’t! I don’t beat myself up over slip-ups and stressful days. For me, it’s the long-term decisions that make the biggest difference in my life. I’m also all about making sure I only put organic and nutritious foods in my body, whether it be my healthy meals or daily juices.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a co-founder of Suja and how did you overcome it?
I think the biggest challenge was taking that initial leap. I quit law school and took a chance on a start-up. Those first stages of business were scary. We had no money, no office, not even a full kitchen! But, in the end it all boils down to believing in your product and your brand. I full heartedly believed and still believe in my business so instead of sticking to the safe path of law school, I was excited for the unknown.
What advice would you give Get It Girls who want to start a business or build something of their own, but are unsure of where to start or what they are truly passionate about?
I think if you are going to start a business you need to be 100% committed and passionate about what you’re doing. If your passion is still unclear, keep trying new things! Explore, travel, learn about yourself and tap into what makes you happy. Once you discover what sparks your interest, dive into the field and see where you can begin making your own impact.
At what point did you realize that juice and health was what you wanted to build a business around?
Juicing has been a large part of my life ever since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, so I think it was just a natural progression. I discovered how powerful food is, which really spurred me to dive into the nutrition field and learn as much as I can. It’s my biggest passion, so it made sense for me to provide others with what I loved. I was making juices for my friends and family, and demand just started growing. People began referring their friends and that’s when we started getting recognized. I was originally attending law school when our juicing business started. But, once I realized I was way more excited and passionate about my budding juice business, the choice was clear for me.