LaKeasha Brown: Saving Lives One Juice At A Time
The way social media is set up, posting photos on Instagram is apart of life but what takes a little more courage is posting a photo in a swimsuit. In order to feel as snatched as possible prior to a photo shoot for my line of handmade swimsuits, I did a three day cleanse from 1987Juices. I initially learned of the brand from Digital Marketing guru, Chaia Raibon. If she promotes something in her IG Story, I have to have it because I trust her judgement.
Upon her mention of 1987Juices, I researched the company and learned that it’s founded by a black woman, LaKeasha Brown. The fitness trainer by day, juice entrepreneur by night, began making juices in 2014 in the midst of battling chronic stomach pains and breakouts. LaKeasha found that it improved her health as well as the health colleagues and clients that she shared her recipes with. It’s been a year since the formal launch of 1987 Juices and despite the over saturation of the health and wellness industry, LaKeasha has successfully created a lane for herself as evident in needing employees, her “87Team” to help fulfill orders as well as her successful event series, 87Fest–a day of music, art and live performances, LaKeasha recently sold out of juices at the last event. Having had the opportunity to do a 3-day cleanse, it’s no surprise that the fruits and veggies can barely grow fast enough to keep up with her orders!
LaKeasha’s blend of juices are hands down the best I’ve ever drank. The way fried shrimp and french bread is set up, if you would have told me prior to the cleanse that I could survive for three days on juice alone, I would have called you a liar. But 1987Juices are ah-ma-zing. Who craves beets and oranges in real life? After the cleanse, it’s me.
I recently sat down with Lakeasha and we discussed how she manages to stand out amongst the plethora of health of wellness brands in LA as well as her plans to bring the business down south.
Zon D’Amour Many entrepreneurs find it hard to launch and sustain their business because of the demands of their full time job. In addition to 1987 Juices, how are you sustaining your income? Can you give someone insight your week and how you incorporate 1987 Juices into your schedule?
Lakeasha Brown: Well, 1987 Juices is the demanding part of my schedule and everything else has to fit into that. I juice Sunday and Wednesday, deliver Monday and Thursday and group train clients during the week. Previously, the way I sustained being and was able to pay off debt and put money aside to hire an 87team, was by doing marketing for a figurative art college on the weekends.
I think the first thing you have to do is be brave enough to make your business your full time job. And whatever you need to make the business run smooth, you do to prevent from not being able to sustain your business.
1987 Juices gets its forty hours first, everything else is altered or rescheduled based on if that fulfillment is met. If you are not at a place to work more on your business, put in the work during your off time until you make enough to cover basic necessities. Go a little harder and then get enough to cover being able to save. Now, make your business your full time job, and make that job a part time until you no longer need it.
ZD: With the influx of juice brands, particularly in Los Angeles, how did you decide to enter such an overcrowded market?
LB: My parents live in Georgia and the nearest juicery from them is an hour away. So I thought wow, we live in a place where it seems oversaturated because California is one of the healthiest states in the country but when you go to places like Georgia or South Carolina, where I was born, there’s still a big opportunity for what I’m doing. So it’s not about LA, I’m learning here but everywhere else that I inspire when I go back and am able to provide juices there, those are additional opportunities to market. Whatever you do, whatever niche you have, there’s someone in LA who’s going to gravitate towards it. So to me it’s not oversaturated because whoever thinks the way you think, that’s going to be your audience and where you’re going to be able to build your foundation.
Many of my clients are people in cancer remission, some have had Lupus, Crohn’s Disease or diabetes…What I’ve had to learn the most about is effectiveness, I created flavors that cater to those illness and I’m extremely proud of that.
ZD: In my nearly 10 years of having an online magazine, I’ve changed the company name and site templates at least a dozen times striving to create a site that people want to visit. Design and branding decisions I made in 2009, I definitely wouldn’t make in 2018. I noticed the labels on your packaging have changed. Can you talk about your brand evolution from when you first started to now? What changes, tweaks, adjustments have you made to your brand in order to grow?
LB: I’ve always known what the brand represented, how I wanted people to feel and that all of our juices were inspired by music. However, I changed labels based on what I wanted people to understand. The initial labels back in 2014 before I sold anything said “LaKeashaFit” on them because it was my way of introducing myself to people in LA, the second bottle design was of the 1987 Juices logo when I finally got it because I just wanted people to be able to recognize the brand. The third [design] included juice in the background, because I wanted people to visually see what it was. Lastly, my final labels which encompasses what the brand has always stood for and is positioned to now received shelf space.
…I created community events to teach people how to maintain the lifestyle. When they are aware of the consequences of being without the lifestyle, they begin to ask questions. Once they receive answers and a fun way to maintain the lifestyle they’re fully invested.
ZD: The start-up phase of any business is usually the hardest and a time in which doubt keeps many people from even manifesting their idea. If you ever lost your passion for your business how did you manage to keep going?
LB: The biggest thing I’ve had to learn is [to discern between] whether I’ve lost my passion or if I’m just tired. As long as you keep yourself busy, you’ll never want to stop because you’ll always have something to do. I think when you don’t have enough to do, when you have a lot of time on your hands and feel as if you’re not getting the results that you want, you get frustrated and want to pull back. I’ve learned to ask myself, ‘am I tired today? Or do I really not want to do this?’ Sometimes you need a nap, time away from your phone and then you to wake up, try again and then you’re okay. I’ve had moments where I’m terrified because I’m doing something that I feel is different or because I have a lot on my plate. ‘Am I going to be successful at this? Am I going to be able to get this done?’ But I’m never at a point where I want to quit I’m just so passionate about making sure that people enjoy their experience with the brand.
ZD: Often times people want to loose weight and get healthy but the way fried foods and desserts are set up…In pitching and promoting your business, have you found it hard to get people to commit to a healthy lifestyle?
LB: People commit to what they understand and value. I’ve made it a goal to create opportunities and community events teaching people how to maintain the lifestyle. When they are aware of the consequences of being without the lifestyle, they begin to ask questions. Once they receive answers and a fun way to maintain the lifestyle they’re fully invested. And then, it’s them getting me to do more to commit to them.
ZD: Can you talk about some of your past community events as well as what’s next for you and your business? Do you have a team that assists you with the juicing? Are you planning to open a brick and mortar?
LB: They’ll be one more “Sip & Sweat” which happens every 6 to 8 weeks before the end of the year. Initially, I partnered with local studios and started off on rooftops in downtown LA. The last one was with Madame Tussauds in Hollywood Blvd. It was a midnight pop-up. We had nearly 100 people there at midnight!
Our recent 87Fest was a fitness music and arts festival. I wanted to do it three years ago but I knew that I wasn’t ready yet because I hadn’t done enough events. I didn’t have a paper trail; I just know where I see the brand five and ten years from now so I’m actually working backwards from where I see it because I need to get these timestamps.
After their week cleanse, many people ask me, what should they do in regards to working out. ‘Should do Zumba? Kickboxing?’ I started off teaching. When I would go to class I would bring the juice which was the inspiration behind starting the company. For me it’s always been about the fitness. I still train trainers twice a week, just to remain active in that. I feel it necessary to do this because it’s something I’ve always done. I’ve done events ever since I’ve started. I want to provide the people that I juice for an introduction to other brands that can help them to maintain their lifestyle until they place their next order.
I’ll begin staffing in quarter four and quarter one of 2019 to make executing what I do now more efficient. I’ll be featured at JuiceCon, teaching and training other industry experts this year. And as of now, I enjoy the online space very much. However, I think a home would be nice outside of the kitchen…soon 🙂
ZD: What did you have to learn about the juicing and the health and wellness business before launching 1987 Juices?
LB: The biggest thing I had to learn was what may work for my body may not work for someone else’s so learning the different ailments and illnesses that someone else may have and making something that caters to all people, that’s something that I take pride in. What makes our juices different is that I specialize in gut restoration because of my own issues with my digestive system. So being able to service people who are in cancer remission, who have Lupus and Crohn’s Disease, all those people are clients of mine. To say I created flavors that cater to those illness as well as diabetes, I’m extremely proud of that. What I’ve had to learn the most about is effectiveness and that it can do that and be a great brand is what’s most important to me.