Friday 9 December 2016

Galway sisters' drinks business proving to be a juicy idea

Published 04/08/2016 | 02:30

Startup sisters Jennifer and Karena Hutton
Startup sisters Jennifer and Karena Hutton

Jennie and Karena Hutton are sisters from Galway City. They set up their cold-pressed juice business, Juicy Lucy, two years ago. Jennie explained their story.

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"We were fans of juicing for a long time before we set the business up. I initially started drinking fruit and vegetable juices for weight loss purposes while Karena got into them in Australia while she was traveling. When she came back we began making our own with a homemade juicer.

Juices are a tasty, easy way to ensure you are getting enough nutrients into your diet. We have first-hand experience with how beneficial they can be for health.

Our mum was ill a couple of years ago and we made her lots of juices when she came home from hospital, which helped with her recovery.

I also made up lots of green juices for my son when he was suffering from eczema, using ingredients like wheatgrass and cucumber, which had a dramatic effect.

My background is in film and television production.

I took time off from work when I had my two kids but when I was looking at going back, I decided the arts weren't for me any more - there had been too many cuts to funding.

So myself and Karena put our heads together and decided to go into business. We started out at farmers' markets a couple of days a week, standing in the rain under a gazebo.

What's unique about our juices is that nothing is added and they are sealed using a cold pasteurisation technique called the High Pressure Process. It is an organically certified method and uses cold water at a very high pressure to kill bacteria in fresh foods. Using heat or additives can damage the nutritional content.

Our range includes three different juices which have a 28 day shelf life. Each 250ml bottle contains up to a pound of locally-sourced produce.

We've come a long way and are now stocked in SuperValus around Galway, as well as a number of delis, cafes and independent supermarkets. We took part in SuperValu's Food Academy accelerator programme which was terrific and got support from our Local Enterprise Office. Galway has a brilliant food community who have been wonderful to us too.

We rent a small commercial kitchen and refrigeration unit in Galway and do everything ourselves. We looked at outsourcing but couldn't find anyone who would adhere to our strict processes.

The biggest challenge was getting off the ground financially. We had the leanest start of any business I know. To make it work we've had to forego pay cheques at times or keep up part-time work.

"We haven't taken on any loans or investment yet, but we are starting to look at that. We also want to hire someone full-time to assist with the business in the next three months.

The next step is to move across the Shannon and take our juices nationwide. We would like to export too and are looking at other products, starting with a plant-based milk substitute."

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