Meet + Greet

How a family of juice-lovers turned a tough time into a thriving business.

November 16, 2017

With three locations in Vancouver, The Juicery found the perfect recipe of community and a commitment to product quality to scale their health-conscious cafes.

When her grandfather was diagnosed with esophagus cancer and could no longer eat solid food, Alex Troll and her mother set out to help him find a nutritious solution. Troll moved home to help her Mom full time and the two of them began creating nutrient-rich juices, three meals a day for her grandfather. Friends and family quickly caught wind of what Troll and her mom were up to and started inquiring if the two could support other sick family members with their juices.

At the same time, Troll was inspired to pursue a healthier, natural lifestyle and started eating a raw diet. After losing weight, gaining energy, and feeling the positive effects of plant-based living first hand, Troll and her Mom jumped in the juice deep end. Motivated by the opportunity to give others access to healthy options, Troll’s family started looking for a commercial kitchen to up their capacity and production. “We found a space in Lower Lonsdale in North Vancouver, it was below my grandpa’s first office. It felt very sentimental,” adds Troll. After a major renovation to add kitchen facilities and update the retail space in the front of the building, the first Juicery location opened its doors to welcome in the health-conscious North Vancouver community. Within their first six months, they were selling out by 2pm everyday.

Determined to maintain their staple glass bottles and organic ingredients despite their rapid growth, Troll quickly realized they would need more resources. “We were making the glass bottles by hand. We were doing it totally wrong, we didn’t know what we were doing. Because of margins, it’s tough to have a bottled product and only have one store,” Troll explains. To meet their growing needs, the family opened their second location in Edgemont, the community Troll grew up in. “It felt natural to us. And It was missing a healthy option.”

To create spaces that would feel like home in the tight-knit communities that Troll set her sights on, she looked to local makers and designers. “Working with people we knew, we just got back creativity and love.”

Throughout their growth, Troll has stayed firmly committed to the roots of their product. Scaling usually means changing the product. We didn’t do that. It was hard.” They’ve steadily evolved the breadth of healthy options their shops offer to meet the needs of their local customer base. When we first started we were focused on juice and cleanses. But we needed a full functioning cafe. In LA you can just be a juice and health shots shop. Because of the weather in Vancouver, we all want comforting food and warmer options.”

The Juicery is expanding its community by supporting other Vancouver entrepreneurs. They have opened their space to local community members to host workshops and pop ups since day one. Since opening up her Main Street location to the thisopenspace community, Troll has hosted essential oil workshops, yoga events, and offsite team meetings. “When you’ve made a space so beautiful, it’s nice to see it getting used. Being a host is great for a small business because it introduces us to new customers we wouldn’t have otherwise reached.”

The Juicery team just celebrated the one-year anniversary of their third location on Main Street in Vancouver. Their beautiful flagship store is now up and running with a cafe serving salads, juice, of course, and a retail space with local food products and some of their own concoctions, like pickled carrots and beets. While they aren’t opening any more retail locations this year, they’ll be bringing wellness and education to offices around Vancouver. Their newly-launched corporate wellness program, FREED, helps teams improve their nutrition and stress levels and learn to be more mindful. They visit offices to host the program and deliver juice and food throughout.

Troll’s advice to other entrepreneurs is that good people matter. Scaling from one location to three relatively quickly posed challenges. “I had to learn a lot about HR and managing people. We had to change structure. We went from friends and family working for us to needing more help. I wish I had learned more about that at the beginning.”

Are you looking for a versatile brick and beam space for your next private event, team offsite or production site? Check out Alex’s space right here.