Kimberly Wilson www.essence.com
When Lakeasha Brown started 1987 Juices in 2016, she never imagined the immense thirst for green juice that her little shop would quench all over the Los Angeles area. Fast-forward five short years, and the pressed juice company is now helping juice lovers pop bottles across the country, with countless juice cleanse home deliveries nationwide.
If you haven’t tried a 1987 Juice yet, we’re tempted to say you haven’t really tasted green juice – it’s that good. And even better: it’s for the culture.
Brown, also affectionately known as LaKeashaFIT, is the owner and Chief Juicing Officer of 1987 Juices, a company that started out purely as a hobby to help with her demanding corporate work schedule. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia Brown’s background was in corporate america specializing in sales, management and public relations. Her journey in solving her own digestive issues and helping others lose weight through fitness instruction has led her to build her business full time.
And this “hobby” has certainly paid off. Not only has 1987 Juices made a difference in LA, but impacted the lives of Black people across the country — all in the midst of a global pandemic.
For ESSENCE, Brown shares the importance of creating wellness spaces that are by and for Black people and what’s been the most rewarding part of her founder journey.
Where do you get inspiration for creating your delicious recipes?
All recipes are always inspired by nutritional needs. When I first started juicing it was because I needed something for extreme bloating and chronic acne.I like to start off with the problem. For instance, high blood pressure, and then figure out what’s best for lowering it. Out of those ingredients, I put what tastes best with a low sugar count and then test it on family and friends. If they drink it, it’s a hit.
Now, because I’m from the south, I make it my business to make sure the flavors are always fresh, rich and savory. I come from Conway, S.C. where we EAT collard greens but we don’t like to drink them. So, I use familiar ingredients and challenge our customer base to consume it differently.
What was one of your most rewarding experiences as a founder so far?
Hiring others. Growing our team, and being able to pay them, motivate them, and share the passion for making our community healthier each month. The responsibility that comes with being responsible for someone else being able to have a better or maintain their quality of life during a pandemic has been the most rewarding experience. It doesn’t provide much room to doubt yourself, because you’ve always been motivated to serve your customers and your staff. Those two groups are the key to both growth and success.
There are Black women in the wellness space, but it’s been co-opted by white women who are at the forefront. Why do you think that is?
There are alot of black women joining the wellness space; who have amazing concepts. However, up until recently there has been a lack of access to resources and information on how to be ‘successful’ within the wellness space. With more light being shed on alarming death rates during childbirth or difficulty in diagnosing due to not receiving proper attentiveness or care during visits; it is now hard to deny the black woman proper treatment as both patient and business owner within the wellness space.
Why is it important to have wellness spaces that are by and for Black people?
Familiarity and representation matters. The black community has its own set of cultural traumas, triggers, and health issues. It’s important that we have someone that looks like us, has lived like us, and has overcome like us to be able to communicate ways to navigate wellness through those cultural lenses. Juicing, Herbal remedy and eating raw is something our ancestors did, but health is often scarce due to food deserts in our communities or often seemed as a luxury rather than habitual. It takes seeing someone who looks like you to change the narrative, create community wellness programming and fight for access to better wellness for our community to see the importance.
How did the pandemic impact your business?
We opened up our kitchen to nationwide shipping and double downed on our doorstep delivery program for those unable to leave home or impacted by covid. We closed for a month to be able to step back and pivot, but once we did–we were able to serve more of our community.
Being an entrepreneur has its highs and lows. What’s your go-to motivational quote when things get tough?
Life isn’t happening to you, it’s happening for you.
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