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Conversations with Lorie Ward

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lorie Ward.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My life completely turned around when I discovered the power of nutrition in my early 20’s. I attended San Diego State University and had put on the stereotypical “Freshman 15” through late-night drive-through’s and no longer playing organized sports. Two things happened, I took a job at the spa at The Rancho Bernardo Inn and part of my job was making the fresh-squeezed orange juice every day, and secondly I enrolled in an Introductory Nutrition class which lit a fire in me like no other class had before. I quickly adjusted my nutritional intake to incorporate whole, plant-based foods and saw my energy, complexion and overall well-being improve significantly. I then changed my major to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Education.

For 30 years juicing has been a part of my lifestyle. Although my career path took me into the Pharmaceutical Industry, my passion remained in prevention. Yearly I took courses either in healthy food preparation, raw food preparation, or Integrative nutrition. Everywhere I traveled, I sought out raw food cafes and juice bars. It wasn’t until I had been in Fairhope a few years and had become more disenchanted in my “career” than ever before that I started trying to figure out how I could start a juice business.

Going from having a stable salary, benefits and even a company car to small business owner is a scary endeavor! I began by exploring the juice industry more in-depth. There happened to be the very first Juice Industry conference being held the fall of 2018 in Venice Beach, CA. With much encouragement from my friends, I headed out there. It was sponsored by a well-established cold-pressed juice equipment manufacturer, GoodNature. It was so well done and attended by people from all over the world who were either already experts or hopeful entrepreneurs like me! One speaker, Jimmy Rosenberg, founder of Evolution Juice, made one statement that gave me courage to take the leap. “You don’t have to have all of the answers now. Think of your business journey as if you are holding a lantern in the pitch dark. You only have to take the next step that the light reveals.” I’ve been taking the next step ever since.

I invested in a GoodNature cold-press machine that was delivered right after Christmas 2019. I still worked my 60 hour week but would roll it out of the guest room (all 170 lbs of it!) and into the kitchen to start creating recipes during my free time. I did all of my Health Department certifications for food safety and began looking for commercial kitchen space to rent. Someone I didn’t know personally but admired greatly, Jennifer Haffner, of the Warehouse Bakery and Donuts in Fairhope, generously opened her kitchen to me. I launched my first organic, cold-pressed juices June 2019 and decided to officially close the chapter of the Pharmaceutical Industry for me that October.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The raw juice business is a happy one but comes with a lot of challenges. Because we choose not to pasteurize our juice in order to preserve the good vitamins and enzymes, we have a short shelf life of less than one week. The FDA does not allow for wholesale of raw juice, so expanding business to put juice in gyms, coffee shops or in grocery stores is not allowed. You sell it where you make it! So growing the following took time. I’ve had mishaps like an employee unplugging the cooler and losing all of my juice, to other little things like Hurricane Sally that put us down and brought us losses for several weeks.

I have also become quite the mechanic as machines do break, but it sure makes me feel accomplished when I can get that machine singing again!

When the COVID pandemic hit, the Warehouse Bakery shut down and then pivoted immediately to take home / take out meals. My sales did drop until momentum picked up for those who became much more interested in preventative measures. I had one amazing family who purchased enough celery juice a week for each of their four family members to have one juice a day.

Most recently, we have had challenges getting glass bottles. I had to quickly pivot and take a detour from my beloved design in order to stick to my guns and not use single use plastic bottles. It ended up being a happy decision that I will stick with because the bottles I found are manufactured in the US for milk bottling rather than shipped from overseas.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Fairhope Juice is known for two things: 1. Juice recipes that are focused on food healing and 2. having environmentally sustainable practices.

Our Jubilee juice is a blend of carrot, apple, lemon, ginger and turmeric…..excellent for arthritic patients, headaches, pain and inflammation reduction.

We weren’t the first juice business in the area, but we are the first to choose to bottle in glass, not only for the health of our customers, but for the health our environment. We chose glass bottles that the Health Department has approved to sanitize and reuse, so customers are encouraged to return our glass bottles to live another day and prevent single-use plastic bottles from destroying the planet. Juice also tastes way better in glass! All of our pulp is used for either feeding local chickens and pigs, to make organic compost, or in recipes for dog treats.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
Juicing is really gaining traction, especially in the Southern States. Places like my hometown, San Diego, and New York City have had local juice shops for decades. Here in the South people are getting much more health-conscious and franchise juice places and small Mom and Pops, like Fairhope Juice Company, are popping up everywhere. There have been many occasions where customers from other states like Louisiana and Mississippi have asked me to consult on opening a juice shop in their area.

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