IT PROFESSIONAL TURNED JUICER CUM CEO FOUNDER ABSOLUTE JUICE
Before we walked around with see-through plastic cups drinking smoothies and natural homemade fruit juice as a wellness status symbol in shopping malls and car cup holders on weekends, there was Jennie, 14 years ago, hurtling across the CBD, taking the above to progressive clientele. The former IT professional saw the future many are only now catching up to. Her eye-catching colorful juice bar was perfect for Vivo Woman´s vibrant summer collection. And because we are all about life, loving it and living it, we knew Jennie would make a perfect sit-down interview, seeing how the Vivo Woman is on top of her health and wellness game.
When and why did you start this business?
2005 November. I read something about carrot juice. I had never heard about it before, so I started drinking it. Then I drunk different combinations of juices. I had ulcers. I started seeing the benefits. I had a lot of energy and I lost weight. Once I saw this, I began reading about other fruits and veggies like spinach for low iron, cabbages for tummy upset and ginger.
How did you sell your product before you opened Absolute Juice?
I am not a certified nutritionist but I started sending them to my peers. They gave me a great response. I realised I enjoyed educating people about healthy juices and quit my job.
Tell me what to drink for flawless skin like yours.
First, thank you! With skin, it could be different causes. Just as examples, they could be hormonal, environmental or product-related. All juices are good for the skin when you drink them regularly. But cucumber juice is great for the skin.
Your skin has always been this clear?
Honestly, I have really drunk a lot of juices and I see that it helps. One of the side effects of juicing is seeing your skin change for the better.
How did you find clients before you opened this?
For a year I did deliveries and gave talks. They would order, and I would deliver. I found it very hectic because back then we did not have boda bodas. I had to drive my deliveries and sometimes people don´t pay you. If I am invited, I give talks. I haven´t done that in a while. Now a lot of companies have wellness weeks or days and we have supplied them then with juices. I like to work with nutritionists, fitness people and emphasis health. People look at nutrition like it is dieting and think smoothies taste bad but that is not the case. Over time I needed a place where there was traffic so I opened the shop at Yaya. Now we are looking at other stores so we can reach out to even more people. You can get us through Jumia Foods, Uber Eats, Glovo and Yum which is very convenient. We also do salads, have sandwiches, soups that are vegetarian with no milk, no gluten, and we make what you order when you order.
Can I meet my 10-A-Day requirement when I drink your juices?
You know people do detox to lose weight but detoxes are really to give your body rest. Maybe you have overdone it and you need to get rid of toxins and chemicals like alcohol or medication. What people do not know is your body already detoxes every day, and that you need to eat fruits and veggies for fibre. Juices do not replace your requirements. It is just an add on.
Who mostly drinks the juices?
35 and up. The biggest group is in their 40s...which is great. However, I really want to get to the younger market. There is a lot in the media about obesity and nutrition and we are really trying to encourage healthy eating; just be aware of what you out in your body. Be conscious. Be mindful.
When do they come to Absolute Juice?
They usually come here to or from the gym. Mostly from. Our regulars have made juices part of their lifestyle. They are naturally very aware of their health. Some people just do not want to drink a soda.
Many a Vivo Woman runs her own business. What is the most surprising thing you realized running yours?
Running a business is a challenge. I was very naive when I started. I thought, you order mangoes, make mango juice, sell it. It is much more difficult than that. I have attended seminars, worked with consultants where I don´t know, and have really had to be humble. I will learn from a very young person if I need to. You have to be open. Finance is a big challenge, there is now a lot more competition and not just people doing what we do but anyone selling beverages. When there is a terrorist alert it really affects the business as does politics and elections. These are things I mostly can´t really control. Even sourcing veggies is getting more expensive. Things that were in season all year round are now seasonal. There isn´t as much food as before. But, I hope I have made you a convert.
What would you recommend to readers who want to juice at home?
Buy a juice extractor and a blender. With recipes, I just try different things. I am online a lot and look out for the latest trends.
What are said trends?
Right now, look out for green juices; those are very popular, chia seeds and flaxseeds are what is going on. We became active in Instagram a few months ago. I do not think we are more than 4 months old. We want people to know we have a lot to offer and that we are on top of things. By the way, balancing fruits and veggies in a smoothie is all part of the research.
What do you enjoy reading?
I belong to a book club and we started off reading books to do with Africa. Now we are reading to do with Ghana. We try to learn. I read spiritual books. I do not really read fiction. No crime drama or murder mysteries.
What is your juicing lifestyle like?
I juice 6 times a week. Smoothies and veggie juice. If I want to introduce or I read about something, I first try it on myself. I am my own guinea pig. If I have not eaten breakfast, I replace it with a smoothie. I cannot be doing this kind of business and not drink juices or L will not be being loyal to my clients.
What kind of entrepreneur or leader would you say you are?
How many kinds are there, my goodness! I don´t know what kind. I do know I train my staff myself, delegate, allow people to make mistakes, let staff do what they are supposed to do. We have a small team and I call it our family. The supervisor can make sandwiches and clean, or cleaner can serve a client who will not know the difference because we all help out. It is fluid. We are small so it works. And if i don´t delegate I will be losing my temper.
What if you come to Vivo and shop with one of our stylists?
I am. I am buying this outfit and I will go shop downstairs (Vivo is on the 2nd floor at Yaya). I only bought my first outfit there a month ago. These Vivo clothes are so comfortable. I am more of a casual person, and this is smart casual. I have been challenged.
Absolute Juice is located at Yaya Centre, 3rd Floor.