Sisters in success
Live Life Juice Co. settles into downtown
It’s a juice bar, yet familiar bar scenes play out there: Customers straddle stools at the wood-grain counter, order a full drink or a (wellness) shot, linger and chat up the bartender.
Sisters Abigail, Angelina and Autumn Rasmussen have observed as much since opening Live Life Juice Co.’s brick-and-mortar shop on West Sixth Street. The storefront is painted green and features the company’s carrot logo; inside is equally clean and simple. During an interview at the shop, the sisters said that, unlike booze, selling juice is a health service. Customers have come to count on the cleansing and immunity-boosting benefits of their products. Angelina calls it “juice therapy.”
“Maybe you don’t have time to make [juice] yourself, so we’re going to do it for you,” she said. “We want to make healthy choices available so people can conveniently incorporate it in their lives.”
When Live Life Juice launched about two years ago, the sisters’ cold-pressed juices were available only at the Saturday farmers’ market in downtown Chico. Initially, they offered a handful of flavors; now there are dozens in rotation and available by special order in 16- and 32-ounce glass bottles for $6.50 and $12.
The booth has been a hit, drawing long lines of market-goers and selling about 70 gallons of juice on a typical Saturday. The success allowed all three sisters to quit their day jobs and focus on juicing.
“It’s harder work and longer hours,” Autumn said of working for themselves, “but in every way more fulfilling.”
Not to mention, the Rasmussens have faced real hardship. In late May, less than a month after opening the shop, Abigail’s newborn daughter, Naima Ella, suffered a respiratory attack and was flown by helicopter to UC Davis Medical Center. As her baby recuperated from lung surgery, Abigail was out of town for 51 days. It was a stressful and uncertain time for the family, but the community rallied and helped cover medical expenses through crowdfunding, donating about $14,000.
“Everybody showed their love and compassion and support in such an astounding way,” Autumn said.
Naima Ella is healthy and Abigail is back at work, helping as much as she can “without being a full-shift kind of gal,” she said.
Meanwhile, Angelina and Autumn have been tending bar long enough to notice trends. For instance, there’s a marked difference in the clientele at the shop versus the market. Customers at the store tend to go for the wellness shots—$2.50 apiece and loaded with energy- and immunity-boosting ingredients such as turmeric (fights disease), ginger (aids digestion, reduces inflammation) and cayenne pepper (aids digestion)—or the varieties with the least amount of sugar, such as Back to Your Roots (red beets, golden beets, carrots, turmeric, cucumber, spinach, cilantro and lemon).
“It’s seeming like people who come into the shop are already familiar with juicing and its benefits,” Angelina said. “They’re directly drawn to the health aspect.”
At the market—especially as the temperature rises in the afternoon—the candy-sweet varieties such as Summer Lovin’ (grapefruit, pineapple and strawberries) and Better than Candy (strawberry, orange and pineapple) are far more popular.
As for what the sisters Rasmussen have planned next, look for expanded hours and healthy grab-and-go food offerings. “We don’t ever see this as a space for sit-down [dining],” Angelina said. More immediately, she’s creating a new wellness shot with burdock root, used traditionally for cleansing, as the main ingredient.
The sisters also will keep getting the hang of owning a business, Angelina said. “We’re totally stoked to have the doors open, to sell juice, to be making a profit and to have made it this far.”