WELLPRENEURS THAT INSPIRE: Hana & Emma from Greenhouse Juice

Photography by Yasi Shafiei

Photography by Yasi Shafiei

Film-Worthy Juice Sanctuaries...

With 14 locations across Toronto, if you’re ever GTA-bound (juice-enthusiast or not) - you’ve definitely come across Greenhouse Juice. Chances are, you’ve even bumped into the founders, who make a regular appearance at the various locations and are as approachable and friendly as the plants that welcome you into each and every one of their shops.

You can read about the story of Greenhouse Juice “the company” on their website, but I wanted to know the WHO behind the WHAT. Right when I met Hana and Emma, I could tell their delightful, humble and warm personalities likely had a lot to do with it…

Photography by Yasi Shafiei

Photography by Yasi Shafiei

Hana comes from a business background, she founded and operated a healthy snacks and juice bar with two locations inside gyms in Toronto, and Emma had a background in journalism - who was actually “living in France, drinking wine, and eating croissants” prior to the company’s founding. The girls are sure to highlight that it’s not just them behind the scenes - Anthony played (and continues to play) a key role in the development of GHJ and their upstart success.

It’s a unique story actually, as it was Anthony - a filmmaker travelling between LA and NYC, who first started to get the juice “buzz”. He and his friends & colleagues began drinking the newly popularized cold-pressed juice in LA and it totally “revolutionized their rhythm”.

The question was: who was going to bring this to Toronto?

Hana - already familiar with the healthy food and drink scene. Anthony - making films and drinking greens. Emma - writing and eating croissants in France.

Okay, I’ll admit that it doesn’t seem obvious at first, but being that they were all family friends, they decided to team up and BRING THE JUICE TO THE PEOPLE!

Photography by Yasi Shafiei

Photography by Yasi Shafiei

Turns out spreading the “drink juice, feel good” thing in Toronto, kinda worked. Really well.

REAL LIFE TAKEAWAY #1:

If you happen upon something great, and realize not everyone (i.e. in every market) is aware or has it available to them: SPREAD THE LOVE! In this case, it was those revolutionizing vibes that came about from drinking juice. Main point: sharing is caring (and is a great entrepreneurial move).

I just HAD to ask: HOW, WHY?! What did you do?! What marketing genius tactics were behind this craziness?! The answer surprised me...

 “Nothing, really.”

Apparently, they simply relied on word-of-mouth marketing for that initial launch period, and were in serious doubt themselves - they were selling cold-pressed juice in winter! I guess your community really is your biggest ally.

Hana also brought up their value-system, which - while not explicitly stated or outlined on their website at that point - was underlying and very present throughout each and every “business move”.

The gist of that value system? No compromises.

Photography by Yasi Shafiei

Photography by Yasi Shafiei

Furthermore: a totally inclusive environment. Both the girls explain that they themselves as “omnivores, wine drinkers, and croissant-eaters” sometimes feel a bit intimidated walking into those “super healthy” places - as if they’re not “green and healthy enough” to fit in there. They did NOT want anyone to feel that way about Greenhouse Juice. It’s a space where everyone is welcome. Yes, it’s juice - but it’s meant to be an invitation for anyone and everyone to feel drink up some goodness and feel great. Whether that’s one a year or you’re on a hardcore green juice detox.

Also given HUGE props to is co-founder Anthony, who is Greenhouse's CEO, has been working around the clock since the company launched to make their collective dream a reality—and a sustainable one.

REAL LIFE TAKEAWAY #2:

Get someone on the numbers. Cash is king. If this isn’t your strong point, make sure a dedicated member of your team can take care of it.

Furthermore, Anthony, with his filmmaking background, has a gift for creating the beautifully unique - yet all seemingly similar - spaces that makes each and every single Greenhouse Juice shop beautifully special in it’s very own ways. Hana comments that this makes both the customers and the staff feel like they have their own piece of the company so to speak - whether it’s the jungle on Queen West or the charming bungalow on Macpherson.

Photography by Yasi Shafiei

Photography by Yasi Shafiei

Now on to the not so fun: I asked what each of their “growing edges” are, and possible struggles they see arising along their current growth path.

Hana states that keeping the true authentic community feel and staying well connected with the customers and the staff is one of her main focuses and is becoming ever so more important and understandably challenging as the company expands. While her role is shifting more towards product development, she still needs to know the market, and this means communicating directly with her much-loved customers often.

REAL LIFE TAKEAWAY #3:

Be continuously connecting with your audience.

The fact that Hana is so hyperconscious of this, combined with just how obviously amazing she is at it - makes us think this is a “challenge” they can definitely overcome. Still, the need to “always be listening” - and not just listening, but acting on, exactly what your customers want (now & in the foreseeable future) is key.

Photography by Yasi Shafiei

Photography by Yasi Shafiei

For Emma, she admits prioritization is key. “Putting aside the urgent for the important can be difficult”. There are key “dominos” as she calls it that need to be set off in order to ensure success, so effectively managing those amongst the constant influx of things to do can be challenging at times.

Now moving on to the product development of the juices themselves. I was curious to know where they get their inspiration behind the choices of exactly what to include in their juices (and now also delicious nut milks, hot drinks, soups, and more). Apparently it’s all a team approach, and the key source is their very own customers. “Some want a greener green, a sweeter sweet, - we try to listen and act on all of that as best we can” Hana explains.

With that said, they also have to take the lead on making the most informed and conscious choices. This type of authenticity and diligence led them to refuse the requests to bring in an activated charcoal drink, which they insist is a “daily don’t” [read more about their take on this health fad here]. It’s nice to hear that Greenhouse Juice isn’t about just jumping on the newest and coolest ingredient - they need to feel confident in its safety and possible consumption on a larger scale.

Side note: they also shout out to Christina Gordon - a naturopath they work with - for much of their inspiration.

And on the topic of inspirational ingredients: I couldn’t help but ask what food trends or “superfoods” are they most excited about, or see making waves in the near future. I was delighted at their honest, grounded, and downright intelligent reply: WHOLE PLANTS! Nettle leaves, dandelions, herbs, sprouts, microgreens. Real honest food that can be incorporated into your diet in more ways than one. Maybe you discover it in a juice, but then are inspired to incorporate it into a dish, or perhaps make a tea out of it. Real whole plants are so versatile and their hope is that Greenhouse can play a role in that inspiration for loving and eating these fun, delicious “feel good” ingredients.

Photography by Yasi Shafiei

Photography by Yasi Shafiei

Which leads us perfectly into wrapping up my chat with a few closing remarks on their very exciting new book launch - The Greenhouse Cookbook: Plant-Based Eating and DIY Juicing. Exciting is not an understatement, these beauties decided to share ALL of their recipes (up until the time of it being written of course) and there’s no holding back on the goodies they’re making public!

Why plant-based though? I thought you were omnivores?

Neither Hana nor Emma follows an exclusively plant-based diet, they both eat prefer to eat mostly plants, for reasons of sustainability, health, and preference. They point to the environmental impact of our food choices, emphasizing that eating even just one plant-based meal a day is a small individual lifestyle change that, collectively, could make a big difference.

On that note, it seems their closing words of wisdom align perfectly with their mandate and take on life: balancing the here and now with a sustainable future.

Thanks so much for giving me a peek into your admirably humble world of health, balance, and totally rad vibes!

Be sure to check out their new cookbook, a stunning bundle of recipes:

Photography by Yasi Shafiei

Photography by Yasi Shafiei