They’re not just business owners, co-founders and entrepreneurs. They’re also chefs, nutritionists, life-changers and new voices teaching people about the power of produce, one bottle of juice at a time.
Meet four women at the top of San Diego’s burgeoning juice scene.
Hanna Gregor, OH! Juice
While most 25-year-olds are navigating the post-college world with trepidation, Hanna Gregor is confidently calling the shots at her own leading juice company as both head chef and nutritionist. Then again, Gregor and her company, OH! Juice, are anything but average.
Served in a glass bottle, the cold-pressed, locally sourced, always-organic juices feel different than the rest. Gregor said she designed her product by staying mindful of negative comments people could make.
“My juices are 100 percent organic and nutritionally designed, so you’re not just drinking it because it’s trendy. We are very transparent and we supply a lot of education with each bottle. We want you to purchase the right thing for you.”
Working 18-hour days, Gregor bounces her youthful energy between customer relations, farmers markets, phone calls, writing business plans and nights spent in the kitchen, reinforcing her motto to a growing staff: “We’re all making medicine in here.”
With just a small budget and a gigantic vision, OH! Juice was born a year ago when Gregor’s guidance as a nutritionist and holistic health coach led her to design a product for her clients that was honest and healthful. “When I was coaching my clients and saw juice healing exponentially, I knew this is what I wanted to keep doing,” she said.
“As far as reception, people were a little taken aback by my price at first,” Gregor said. “But now that we educate them and have a testimonial base of over 1,000 people whose lives we changed - from headaches to losing weight - it’s given me the courage to continue to provide the very best product.”
Lisa Odenweller, Beaming
When Lisa Odenweller opened Beaming Del Mar in December 2012, there was nothing else like it in San Diego. Odenweller, who calls herself an organic entrepreneur, began her mission to treat food as medicine while wiping away the premonition that maintaining a plant-based lifestyle has to be complicated.
“I’m a mom of three kids, so I created essentially what I wanted, which was delicious gourmet superfood salads, snacks and smoothies convenient enough to grab and go,” Odenweller said. “Honestly, there was nothing like that out there. I just knew I wasn’t alone.”
Beaming isn’t just a juice bar, but a superfood cleanse that Odenweller created for a more realistic approach to living healthfully in the long term. “Beaming is an energy. I want customers to walk away with a piece of information on health, while we create an environment where the whole family wants to go,” she said.
Odenweller has her hand in everything, from the culinary direction to the customer experience, partnerships, community outreach and opening new locations in Los Angeles next month.
“It’s always a juggling act to run a company and combine that with being a single mom,” she said. “I had to learn how to create boundaries. I’m so passionate about inspiring, so it’s a constant test to say ‘How do I take care of me?’ How do I take care of my children?’”
And now, with so many other juice bars and organic shops popping up around her, Odenweller couldn’t be more thrilled. “The more of us bringing the richness and goodness of healthy foods and juices to the community, the better! We’re at the beginning of this new perspective on food, and it’s so amazing.”
Lindsay Nader, Juice Saves
New girl on the block Lindsay Nader opened Juice Saves in East Village in April with the help of the CH Projects crew. Don’t be fooled, though; she is no rookie to juicing, or the beverage scene, for that matter.
Nader came to San Diego with an extensive background in all things liquor, as a bartender at P.D.T. in New York, a cocktail consultant in Los Angeles and brand ambassador for Rémy Cointreau and Absolut vodka.
“My mother was always juicing when I was growing up,” Nader said. “In my 20s, I would juice to balance my lifestyle, and when I was in L.A., the cold-pressed juice scene really took off.”
Around the same time that Nader’s brand ambassador work was beginning to take a toll on her, the bright-eyed brunette was introduced to CH co-founder Arsalun Tafazoli, who just so happened to be scoping the scene for a juice-centric addition to his roster of restaurants and bars. Juice Saves was born, a cold-pressed juice bar with 100 percent natural fruits and veggies from local purveyors served with a smile.
“We’re essentially making a healthy cocktail in a bottle and taking away the clinical aspect to it,” she said. “There’s no verbiage you don’t understand, and it’s really whimsical.”
With this in mind, the 1,100-square-foot shop - which serves everything from juices to house-made almond milk to a kombucha-style strawberry slushie - aims to attract the bustling downtown crowd.
“In San Diego, everyone is on the beach and active, but there really aren’t that many options for healthy food and drink. We want Juice Saves to appeal to a more budgeted community of young people.”
Annie Lawless, Suja Juice
The success story of Suja Juice goes back to one of those right-place, right-time moments for Annie Lawless, the bubbly blonde co-founder of one of San Diego’s most triumphant businesses.
It’s more than luck that got Lawless to this point, however; her passion and persistence certainly paved the way.
“About three years ago, I was in law school at USD, making juices for myself,” said Lawless, who battled celiac disease from a young age. “As a child, I was juicing to adjust my diet. I got into cold-pressed before law school, and met Eric, my business partner, who was also doing cold-pressed.”
Eric Ethans and Lawless bonded over juicing and yoga, where peers began wondering where they could get their hands on something similar. “At the time, the closest thing I could say was Jamba Juice. There wasn’t really a cold-pressed juice shop around.”
Today, Suja can be purchased off the shelves of Whole Foods, Target, Vons and even Costco.
The expansion started big-time when entrepreneur James Brennan’s wife started ordering the juice, leading Brennan to introduce the product to Jeff Church, now CEO of Suja.
“I was really lucky to have partners with experience and investors who were really smart in growing business. It was a rare and perfect storm when we all came together,” Lawless added.
Throughout the growth, Lawless has remained steadfast on providing juicing education, traveling the country and handling much of the company’s marketing and outward-facing messaging, such as writing wellness guides and sharing her personal health testimony.
“Our mission now is to get a bottle of cold-pressed non-GMO juice into every hand.” Suja recently released a line called Essentials, a $3.99 bottle sold next to Naked and Odwalla with 25 percent less sugar. “It’s a game-changer. It allows us to hit a greater demographic and make juice accessible to more people.”