Running your own business is no mean feat and doing it with a bub in tow is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. So I can’t help but be in total awe of local mum and entrepreneur Anne, who not only started her cold pressed juicing business Prodjuice shortly after the arrival of her daughter, but managed to do this with an environmentally conscious stance. It’s inspiring to see a business all about nourishing the body and soul making greener choices to nurture our environment. That Anne’s own daughter Edie is also the sweetest ray of sunshine speaks volumes for the caring atmosphere she is being raised in.
How did the idea to start a juice company all begin?
I was home with a brand new baby & looking for something to work on to keep me occupied during all the down time. I had heard of this thing called “cold pressed juice” & started following its growing popularity in the States. I took the idea to my Mum (now my business partner) of a premium cold pressed juice brand for Sydney. There wasn’t much else on the Sydney market at the time, but none the less I wanted to make our product different. I knew the branding, packaging & flavour combination had to be unpredictable. I also knew if we were to begin a start up company, it was our responsibility to do it in the most eco-friendly way.
What is cold pressed juice and why is it good for you?
The method of cold pressed juice extraction is very different from your average Breville home juicer. To put it simply, the cold press process is extremely gentle on fruit & vegetables allowing for a much greater portion of plant cells to remain intact. This creates a very stable, highly nutritious juice. Whereas your standard juicer generates a lot of heat in the cutting process which oxidises the juice & results in a loss of nutrients.
What do you believe sets Prodjuice apart from the other juices on the market?
From the outset we have made a conscious effort to be sustainable. We want to promote a healthy lifestyle, not just by what you put in, but by what you put out. We are 150% committed to using glass bottles. There are way too many plastic bottles still being manufactured out there – it makes me feel ill to think about it. Switching to glass bottles is the simplest step any beverage company can take to reduce it’s environmental footprint. We also take the time to compost all our juice pulp & at present we donate it to the Avalon community garden who are doing a wonderful job of putting it back in the land. We are also always growing and evolving our product line in accordance with the market. We now have soups & broths to give a “ warm” element to the business, & our tonic line is our answer to “ food as medicine”. In short, it’s through our iconic product line & commitment to sustainability that we have been able to set Prodjuice apart from the pack.
What inspires you to make more conscious choices for your growing business?
It’s our responsibility as a generation. Our parents didn’t grow up knowing the effects their consumerism would have on the planet, but we do. Now it has become our responsibility to use that knowledge to make conscious choices in every aspect of our lives, as well as in the education & example we set for future generations. Plus the fact that we are surrounded by an incredible community of people that have the knowledge and drive to execute what they know to make significant changes certainly makes it easier to sustain these movements – especially when your friends & family believe in it too!
Have you managed to embed sustainable thinking within your company?
Yes absolutely. Striving to create a more sustainable business practice through regular review of our processes has generated a more green focus within the company as a whole and also (unintentionally) within the individual staff members. Simple changes we have made are now considered the norm, such as accepting glass bottle returns for reuse, composting & packing only in cardboard. We are even working on a new 100% compostable insulated packaging. Overall there is now greater staff awareness and individually I have noticed changes with our own behaviours. For example our manager Maddy can be caught on any given afternoon lugging a box of plastic Chinese takeaway containers to her car to recycle at home (we receive frozen berries in these & sadly can’t get them delivered any other way). Maddy’s commitment to dispose of them correctly is so pleasing to witness. A beautiful example of how we can still do our best, even if the situation isn’t exactly perfect.
What is the biggest challenge you face professionally?
Growth & expansion… doing it all in the most ethical, responsible way, whilst keeping a smile on your face and still having time for your family & friends (oh &yourself)! It’s a lot, but I’ve learnt (it took a long while) to delegate & spread the load. If you’re not an expert at a certain area, get someone else to do it. It seems like a big outlay initially but it’ll pay you back ten fold in the long run.
Is there any advice you would offer to other small businesses seeking to create change?
Have a look at your business model. Choose 3 main things that stand out as damaging (either ethically or environmentally) then set about to rework these areas so they create less damage or even better no damage! Go slowly, there is no rush. It can be tricky to implement large changes quickly, so go easy & give the process time & commitment. Once these three areas have been addressed, start working on some more!
It’s also really nice to look at the business model & see how & where you can give back to the community as well. For example, this is what we’re up to in the community at the moment: as mentioned all our compost goes to Avalon community garden, we’re loving working alongside organisations like Living Ocean & Av green Team at their events, 5% of all our online sales during March are being donated to The Melanoma Institute, we regularly support Avalon Montessori School at their fundraising events and we’ll be speaking in May at a beautiful event for inspiring professional women run by Lets Connect Women in Palm Beach. All these little things are not only great for the brand, but they’re also great for networking & giving back. For everything positive you give out, something good always comes back to you.
What one thing have you done at Prodjuice to drive sustainability that others could replicate?
Packaging – this drives me crazy! If you are planning a start up & you have to package your product (and lets face it most “things” arrive packaged), take some time in the planning stages to research eco-friendly options. There are so many great & beautiful sustainable packaging concepts out there these days, why all new companies aren’t implementing them is beyond me. Hopefully one day this will become part of legislation.
What is you biggest concern about our ability to tread gently and create a more sustainable world?
Consumerism & the global corporate giants, they’ll be tough to beat. The best thing we can do is be small, shop small, act small. In the last 2 years I have given up all shopping at Woolworths (which used to be my daily go to). I think the only thing I buy there now is deodorant. I am currently looking for a good product to switch to so I don’t have to shop there at all, but I don’t beat myself up about that. It’s been a long process of slowly replacing each product with a more conscious alternative.
All my produce comes from the local farmers market or local organic shop (or work, I realise I am very lucky to always have a cool room full of organic produce). Dry goods like nuts, pasta & rice come from bulk stores like Scoop or The Source. I take along my big glass jars, fill them up & pop them straight in the pantry when I get home. The sense of leaving those stores with not one ounce of packaging is so fulfilling – my favourite shopping experience.
I buy toilet paper, paper towel & tissues online from Who Gives A Crap. Plus I buy all my cleaning products in bulk from Honest To Goodness.
We recently had my daughters 4th birthday party. Having been to a few parties recently I had noticed these events are an absolute land-mine for consumerism & single use goodies So when we came to planning ours, we went simple, no plastic & very low sugar. Each child had a glass jar to fill from our juice or water dispensers with a colourful paper straw. Pass the parcel was wrapped all in newspaper with no tape, & the prizes were little wooden beaded bracelets made by Edie herself or eco-wooden spinning tops. Instead of party bags at the end, each child took home a tiny compostable pot with a little tiny paper packet of seeds & a wooden paddle pop stick to stick in the pot which were labelled sunflower, sweet pea or marigold. We had no balloons or decorations, & do you know what, not a single child cared! All they cared about was running around with their friends & having a ball. Presents are always a tricky one… we have very few plastic toys in our house and I always try to keep it that way. So politely on the invitation I let everyone know that Edie has more than enough & gifts were not necessary. After all, do our children really need more? If they really wanted to give something, I simply asked for no plastic please & offered the idea of a second hand book or toy. Most parents were happy enough to oblige & hopefully this little request was enough to spark some thought in some of the other parents & children’s minds.
What changes have your family made outside of your work to tread more gently on this earth?
Obviously the way we shop, but also the more aware you become the more you want to help. We can’t walk anywhere now without Edie picking up a scrap of plastic and yelling ‘Mum…plastic”. So we’re always picking up rubbish & having our own little beach cleans.
How have you managed being a mum whilst also being the head of a start up?
This has been a really difficult one, & not necessarily something I would recommend to a new mum, or do again! In the beginning I was in an extremely difficult phase of my life & I think I used the business as a way to distract myself from everything that I was going through personally. Like most new businesses we battled through the first couple of years, determined to make it past the two year mark. I found that running the business began to feel much easier & flow took place once my own personal life had settled and healed. Things have really just gotten better and better since then, both at home & in business. I am absolutely sure both facets of life need to work in conjunction with one another for growth. The business has only gotten to this point with the love and support of my family & friends.
How has Prodjuice grown as a company already and what are your ongoing dreams for the business?
Wow to think about this is crazy. We started out so small. We’d make juice on three tiny little machines in Mum’s garage, pop them in the back of the car and drive straight to our local stockist. We now have a full scale commercial production facility & a team of over 12 staff running the show, plus stockists all over Sydney & a thriving online store. There are big plans for the next 12 months, some really really exciting things! But that’s all I can say about that for now…
How has your product been received by the public?
So well, we are so lucky to live in a community like this that embraces good health, good food & supports small enterprises.
Favourite Prodjuice flavour?
Favourite use of a Prodjuice flavour?
Turmeric tonic again. It’s such an incredible mix. I take it for all kind of reasons from skin or eye inflammation to gut health or fighting a cold & flu.
What is one thing you wish people knew about juice that most don’t?
The properties that raw natural foods hold is incredibly underestimated by the greater part of society. Good quality organic juice can be so potent & helpful. We have customers who come to us weekly for their immune shots to keep them healthy, they swear by this potent little antimicrobial mix to prevent illness, especially through winter.
We know that you are conscious of your own health and well being, what regular practices do you have for maintaining this?
Vedic meditation is my biggest practice. I aim to meditate twice daily (although I don’t beat myself up if it doesn’t happen). I learnt to meditate just after I had Edie & just before Prodjuice was thought up. In fact the name Prodjuice came to me in one of my very early meditations. It just appeared so clearly out of nowhere. There is no way I would have been able to manage a new baby & a start up simultaneously as a single mum without my meditative practice & as the business grows it continues to help keep me balanced.
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Prodjuice want to promote healthy living, not just by what you take in, but also what you put out, making the planet a better place for all. Visitprodjuice.com.au to shop their range of delicious broths, soups, tonics, juices and cleanses. Find inspiration on their Journal (an online blog) to be conscious about your own health, wellbeing and the environment.
Samuel Vincent | whitelanestudio.com