ARMED with US$1,000 ($89,000) and a love of juicing, visual artist Cherie Dowdie started Kingston's first mobile juice bar in March.
“It was kind of an accident,” she said. “I juiced at an event for a friend — people really enjoyed it, and I enjoyed it so I decided it would make a really cool hobby.”
But having invested so much of herself in setting up this side interest, Dowdie said it could no longer be described as such.
“I found out that I love it so I said I'm not going to think about it, I'm just going to call it a business”.
Live! Juice Bar boasts freshly made fruit and vegetable smoothies “that are not only crafted for maximum health benefits but also meant to be delicious”.
To fulfil this promise to customers, juices are made when ordered instead of made and stored.
All ingredients are sourced locally (except strawberries and apples) even if using imported produce would be cheaper, Dowdie said.
“The closer [the produce] is coming from, the more likely it is that it's been recently harvested,” she said.
Fruits and vegetables coming from outside the country have been off the tree for at least a week by the time it gets to Jamaica, she said, adding that something would have had to be done to the fruit to maintain the appearance of freshness.
Local produce is, therefore, healthier and in a better position to offer maximum benefits to the bar's customers, particularly those on one of the business's health plans.
“People tell me their regimens work because they're bound to,” Dowdie said.
“Food is medicine,” she said. “If you're fatigued, anaemic or have problems with your skin, for example, there's more than likely a nutritional reason”.
But the regimes “aren't foolproof because other things could be going on”, she said, adding that improvements could still be seen with more fruits and vegetables added to the diet.
To date, a total of US$2,500 ($220,000) have been pumped into the business but investment is not the only thing that has grown by more than 100 per cent.
Just four months after it first started rolling around Kingston, Live! Juice Bar has increased its business from working five times a month, on average, to five times a week.
“I started out doing events only,” Dowdie said, “now we're doing deliveries on average twice a day.”
With its health regimens and orders made for pickup, Dowdie said, the bar has “come a long way”.
Eventually, Live! Juice Bar will be expanded to fixed locations across the island, but Dowdie said it would always have a mobile unit.
“It's a definite advantage to be able to go out to where people are instead of being stuck in one location,” she said.
“We're not missing out on very much except for maybe the sense of security customers get knowing they can visit somewhere if they choose.”