A new business is usually birthed from the need to find a solution to a problem. Even the youngest members of our family and friend circle can spark our most innovative ideas. That is exactly what happened for Roots Juice & Pops founders Derek Hardge and Adashia. Read more about their road to entrepreneurship below.
VEU- Give us a little background information on you both
Adashia & Derek Hardge, owners of Roots Juice & Pops. We met at Georgia Southern University in 2011 and now have two sons, aged 1 and 4. Adashia is a native of Dallas, TX and enjoys cooking and spending time with family. Derek is a Detroit, MI native and loves marketing, spending time with his family, and sports.
VEU- Explain how your kids inspired the concept behind the brand
We actually began juicing when our oldest son was about 1-1/2 years old. When he was an infant, he would eat almost anything that you sat in front of him. Once he began to explore real foods, his taste buds started changing and unfortunately he began refusing fruits and vegetables. We began juicing in 2015 to ensure that he was getting the vitamins and nutrients that his growing body so heavily relied on. After the birth of our second son, we began making all natural popsicles to help combat his teething pains. When it was time to decide if Adashia would be returning to work, we decided to give entrepreneurship a shot with our juices and popsicles we’ve spent years making. Our oldest son loves to help make our juices while our youngest son loves to gnaw on our popsicles. After setting up multiple tables, creating recipes with mom, and handing out countless amounts of samples, our oldest son was officially crowned the President of Roots. Our youngest son currently holds the title of Quality Analyst (aka product sampler) 🙂
VEU- What were some of your initial challenges with starting the brand and how did you overcome them ?
6 months before we started Roots Juice & Pops, we relocated to Memphis, TN. It was a city in which we had never visited and knew absolutely nothing about. To be in a brand new city where we have no connections and no knowledge about where to go, the “who’s who”, or how the laws are regarding small businesses was a huge challenge we had to overcome. Thankfully, the people in Memphis were so helpful in guiding us in the right direction and sharing their knowledge about entrepreneurship with us. We started out going to farmer’s markets and small businesses to speak to the owners and employees about how they got started and what advice they had for new business owners in Memphis. There’s also so many non profits in Memphis that began solely to ensure that small business owners succeed in Memphis by offering free classes and resources that we utilized.
VEU- What separates your brand of natural products from other companies?
Yahoo Finance reported that the juice industry is on target to exceed $8.1B by 2024. It seems that there are new juice companies popping up every day now. Like other companies, we promise to source organic ingredients whenever possible and we also use locally grown fruits and vegetables to promote socio-economic growth in Memphis. What sets us a part from other companies is that we don’t believe in “one size fits all” juicing techniques. We let it be known that our juice cleanses and products are customize-able. So many people have allergies and dietary restrictions. We never want to turn a customer away simply because one of our juices contains an ingredient that cannot be consumed by that customer. We take the time to tailor our customer’s needs and truly focus on the customer because no two customers are the same. We’re not about just making the sale. We want to ensure that our customers are happy with their products and they don’t get a “cookie cutter” experience from Roots.
VEU- What are 3 tips you can give for healthy eating with children and in general?
1. Eating healthy starts early. The earlier that you can introduce a colorful diet to your children, the easier it will be for them to maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are older.
2. Be cognizant of how you respond to food around your children. Children are sponges, especially in their younger years as they look for guidance and wisdom from their parents. When you say things like “I don’t like broccoli” in front of your children, they hear that and automatically form an opinion about broccoli.
3. Make eating healthy fun. We found that when we allowed our children to cook with us, they’re more likely to eat what they helped create. The same thing goes for adults. From gluten free cookies to vegan pizzas, the possibilities are endless!
VEU- What’s next for Roots Juice and Pops?
Oh man! We have so many things in store for Roots and can’t wait to share it with our customers. Right now we are focusing on two major goals for the start of 2019. First on our list is nationwide shipping. Since our products are not pasteurized, our juices must be consumed within a 4 day time frame. We are working on logistics to ensure our products get to our customers in a timely manner without compromising the quality of our products. Second on our radar is a food truck. So many of our customers want to eat healthier and our food truck will combine the best of juicing, frozen treats, and healthy meals.
VEU- What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs about following your dreams
Stay focused! You always hear the “how I got rich” schemes about entrepreneurship and it seems to sound so easy. ITS NOT! Accepting this reality is extremely challenging. It’s very easy to get discouraged and feel like quitting. Our best advice is to stay focused on the goals that you want to attain and set small goals and plans to figure out how those larger goals can be attained. And when those plans fail, remain focused and come up with new ways to attain those goals.