By Nina Polien Light | Photo by John Goldy
Lisa Reed traces her passion for taking care of herself, others, and the earth to childhood dinners and her least favorite chore.
“We had a garden and lots of raw veggies,” Reed, founder and “lead juice lady” of Garden of Flavor, says. “Although we always had beef or some kind of meat, my parents were health conscious in the best way they knew to be. We also composted. My dad would give me a pitchfork and, as a teenage girl, I dreaded turning that compost pile.”
The physical work prepared her for the strength needed to juice large amounts of fruits and vegetables for the cold-pressed, organic juice business she started after leaving a 17-year career in product development at Arhaus Furniture.
Armed with certifications as a holistic educator, coronary health improvement program director, raw food chef, and plant-based nutritionist, the self-described lifelong juicer began making juice for others out of her home kitchen in 2013.
Four months later, she opened a juice bar in Chagrin Falls. In 2015 she moved operations to Midtown Cleveland, where she and her eight-person staff — which includes her son, Clay — produce juices that are sold locally at Heinen’s Fine Foods and Giant Eagle as well as regionally at Whole Foods and other specialty markets in Washington, Chicago, and Minnesota.
“When I started, I probably made about 80 bottles a week and now we make about 8,000 bottles a week,” Reed says.
Like many entrepreneurs, she procured financing through several avenues. One loan allowed her to buy her first commercial juicer, and another loan went toward the purchase of a refrigerated van. She sold a rental property to fund additional juicing equipment and a buildout of her refrigerated juice kitchen.
As Reed built the company, she turned to others for guidance because she did not know how to turn a home recipe into a product ready for the grocery-store shelf. She credits Mark Sandridge of Sandridge Foods and Les Gyerman of Heinen’s for serving as mentors. Her biggest challenge has been attending to the administrative tasks she does not enjoy, and knowing she does not have the resources to hire someone to handle them for her.
“But as an entrepreneur, you have to wear all the hats, especially at the beginning,” she says.
Along the way, Reed has learned how to adapt product offerings to address real-life issues. For example, when her niece broke out in hives from the stress of studying for college exams and said she was downing energy drinks to stay alert, Reed researched the drinks and learned they can increase blood pressure and stress hormones, which puts habitual users at risk for heart damage. So when her son brought back guayusa leaves from a trip to Ecuador and suggested she steep them, Reed was intrigued. The leaves give off natural, plant-based caffeine that does not cause the same jitters and crash as other forms of caffeine. Today she offers an energy drink made by mixing steeped guayusa leaves with organic cold-pressed juices.
Reed, who works about 70 hours a week, subscribes to the mantra, “Don’t ever mistake my kindness for weakness.”
“That really speaks to me,” she says. “As a girl, I was told to be kind, gracious, and don’t second-guess authority. My attitude has evolved over time. Now, I feel being a female is a great strength because I have the ability to be centered, multitask, problem solve, and embrace success without ego.”
For more info: gardenofflavor.com
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