Growing up with Celiac Disease inspired Annie Lawless to begin juicing to give her body the fuel and nutrients it needed. As a law school student in San Diego, juicing at home and sharing with her friends, she saw strong consumer demand for fresh, organic, cold-pressed juice. Annie decided to leave law school behind, found a business partner, and established a home-delivery cold-pressed juice business. The business grew rapidly and caught the attention of two local investors and business partners, and Suja Juicewas born. The brand just completed a $21 million dollar fundraising round that was led by a bevy of health-minded celebrity investors. Annie is the author of the New York Times bestselling book The Suja Juice Solution and has developed a passionate community of followers on her blog, Blawnde.
How did your former career prepare you for running your own business? To be honest, Suja was my first real job! (Unless you count folding clothes at Anthropologie, which I loved because fashion is another obsession of mine.) I think what really prepared me was my belief in the process. Juicing truly changed my life for the better so I am thrilled to share this passion with others.
What was the biggest obstacle that you had to overcome before launching your business? Before launching the business, I had to overcome my fear of taking a different path. I was in law school and on the road to having a steady, strong, and “normal” career. The biggest obstacle was accepting the fact that I was not meant for that road. Once I did that, I was able to full-heartedly launch myself in the business of Suja.
How long were you in business before you started to see real growth? What do you attribute that to? It took a solid year or two to really begin seeing growth. But then we were picked up in one of the local Whole Foods in San Diego, which opened the doors for us to get our name out there and have the validation of the largest natural food retailer behind us.
How did you fund your dream? In the beginning, this was completely self-funded by my co-founder, Eric Ethans, and me. We were making the juices in our home kitchen and then hand-delivering them door-to-door. Then we were able to secure some local investors, and that’s when things were able to grow.
How do you organize your day to best optimize your time? Describe a day in your life. I wake up very early (5:30-6) and do 30 minutes of meditation before anything else. Then I do yoga, go for a long walk or hike, or run. This helps me feel centered and focused for the rest of the day! I schedule the majority of my work before lunch so I can knock out the bulk of my tasks, calls, and emails. I like to organize all of my meetings or calls for the afternoon so I can end the day either cooking at home or out at dinner with friends or my boyfriend. It’s my treat at the end of the day, so I never eat out of a box or package and I never rush the meal. I like to go for a walk on the beach or have a tea on our deck after dinner and read fun blogs or a book before going to bed around 10:30/11.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be… I can’t even imagine this! But probably a fashion designer or travel blogger. Those are two of my favorite things in life.
Five years from now I see myself and my company… In even more stores at an even better price point! My dream is to have healthy, organic options available to everyone. I would love to see Suja on the shelves at gas stations and all grocery stores so everyone has the option to choose something nutritious and satisfying.
What would your advice to your younger self be? Don’t worry so much! I was so nervous that I made the wrong decision when I quit law school to launch Suja. But I would have been miserable had I stayed in law school. So I would tell myself to breathe, relax, and remember that it’s all about following your passion!
“What you think, you create. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you become.”