When you think of juice, you either think about the orange juice you had with breakfast this morning, or you think of the $14 juice deal happening in the fitness community. It is easy to brush off the expensive juice cleanses as a fad or a rip-off but what you probably don’t think about is the research and time it takes to develop a nutritious, good tasting, and healthy juice option.

The new juice company on the market is Spark Health, founded by Calgarian Ana Lopez. What started as an idea inspired by Los Angeles has now become a reality here in Calgary for all of us to enjoy. What Ana found when comparing the juices in LA, where it was a much bigger market before Calgary, the quality was better and the cost was cheaper. As a student, she wanted to have juices that were affordable but still offered the same nutritional value and health benefits.

With two degrees, one in natural sciences and one in psychology, and a holistic nutrition diploma, Ana has developed quite the education to back up her research for her juice. Ana explained, “It would be great if we had an alternative that was cheaper and better, if not equal, in quality and available to students, and people with a limited income.”

“The problem with most juice cleanses here and even in the States is they are pre-set, but people are different and have different needs. The holistic nutrition side focuses on preventing illnesses, noticing your own symptoms, how to fix your diet. From a holistic standpoint, if you are able to do a detox, then the juice should be flexible to fit your needs.”

Ana plans to set up juice cleanses that include nutritional consultation to better target specific needs of customers. It goes beyond using a juice cleanse to lose weight. You are only losing water weight, and a juice cleanse is not sustainable, so it is better to focus on getting the right nutrients from juice. There are many studies on the pros and cons of juicing, but Spark Health is not based on one specific result, it’s about having access to more fruit and vegetables that people are missing in their busy lives.

The idea is that the juices will be made daily in a commercial kitchen by 6am and delivered to stores and online buyers by 7am. The fruits and vegetables will be organic and bought local as much as possible, when the season permits. There are eleven different products to start off with and each flavor is based on a different personality such as the Daydreamer that is light and gentle, and the Beach Babe which is colorful and bold.

What inspired the name, Spark Health?

I didn’t want to be limited to a name with “juice” in it. I want to focus on overall health and preventing health problems; juice is just a segment. My vision for the future is to incorporate mental health into it, I got accepted for my Masters in psychological counseling.

When did you start developing the idea?

The nutritional consultation aspect started six months ago. Coming up with the product has taken a year; it took longer than I thought to make a satisfying product, such as taste, labels, bottles, etc. I had to buy specific industrial juicers; there were so many little details that I didn’t think about when I started.

What has been the biggest challenge starting your own business?

As a young person, people don’t take you seriously. I found it is better to send emails, develop the relationship and start a negotiation before you meet face to face if possible because it will limit the obstacle of age. Depending on people, it is really a group effort with every company you work with. When I started, I thought it would be up and running in three months, but it has taken a year for the details to be ironed out.

Where will you be selling your product?

Online, for sure. It is a big investment to open up a permanent location so I have focused on creating an online market as well as negotiating with local cafes that would be willing to sell my juice in store. It has been hard to find businesses willing to sell my product; the one contract I am negotiating right now was through a friend. Lots of businesses aren’t willing to take on new products, even if they aren’t losing anything, it is hard to get them to commit; it has been a frustrating, but good learning experience.

Word of mouth is the best way to get the word around. Social media is a huge help, but I also plan to give out free samples at festivals and events. People aren’t willing to try something new unless someone they know have tried it before.

We have gone through the whole fitness phase, or what people thought was just going to be a phase, but fitness has stuck around. Now people are realizing they have to have a proper diet to live full, healthy lifestyle. Spark Health juices will be in stores soon, in the meantime follow the company on Twitter (@Sparkhealthyyc) and Instagram (@sparkhealth.ca).

I will keep you posted when Spark Health hits stores!

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