Sometimes your mistakes can steer you toward the best decision you ever made. In the case of Callie Bradford and Monique Dooley, co-founders of GO! Smoothies, they decided to build a business designed to help others avoid the unhealthy mistakes that they had made. A big part of the business was making those right decisions taste good.
“We really think about the health of the individual when we put together our smoothie combinations. And we use organic and locally grown produce. We’re real conscious about that,” said Bradford.
“We make a conscious effort not to use any high fructose corn syrup, so you won’t find our fruit dipped in syrup or anything like that. And we also only use sweeteners like agave, dates and honey.”
In recognition of their one-year anniversary, GO! Smoothies is hosting an Open House on July 21 from 6 to 9 pm at Eastern Market’s shed 5. All are invited to stop by and experience new juice creations and cold-press juice demonstrations while enjoying art, music, infused-cocktails, fitness demos and more.
Also, as a means of marking their business milestone in a forward-thinking way, Bradford and Dooley have expanded their brand of juices, GO! Press, by making a $25,000 investment in a state-of-the-art hydraulic cold-pressed juicer that replaces its previous juicing process. Cold-press juicing allows little oxygen to be mixed with the juices, allowing the extraction process to deliver a purer juice with up to five times more vitamins, natural sugars and essential nutrients than the former juicing method.
“With the cold press, we went from producing about 720 bottles of juice per month to up to 500 per day,” said Bradford.
Considering how well business seems to be going right now, it’s interesting to note that not that long ago neither of the business owners were even thinking about having their own permanent location. Today they have a staff of 15 employees and they plan to offer yoga, salsa and bodyfit classes in the near future.
The back room used to be a dance studio and the exercise bars are still on the walls. They have also hosted health coaching workshops for various sororities, the American Heart Association, the UAW, Home Depot and the American Diabetes Association, to name a few.
“We never really intended to have a brick and mortar, honestly. We just started talking about the benefits of juicing, and we actually started having meetings at my house,” said Bradford. “We would get 20-25 people to come to a meeting, and they all wanted to know about the health benefits of juicing, what combinations should they put together and then it was like, ‘Wow! People like this juice, and they want to buy it.’”
Then they began to do events and publicize them via Facebook. Bradford remembers that people started asking them what they were doing because their skin looked so great, and business grew from there. The pair eventually started an online business in the fall of 2013, and they also began setting up their business as a pop-up in various locations.
But what really gave each of them the idea for the business was some rather brutal health encounters of the disturbing — and eye-opening — kind. Bradford recounted her personal experience battling fibroid tumors that caused her to realize she had to make a dramatic change or face the consequences.
“I had two operations before I was 30 years old. The last operation that I had, I actually went to a specialist in California, and he removed about 75 fibroids from my uterus. And he took a video, so I had to look at the video. Just to have those foreign things in my body, and not feeling the greatest, I just felt like I don’t want to do this again, and I have to do something differently.
“So I just started to read up on fibroids and what’s causing them, and it’s all related to diet. So meat, dairy, caffeine, sugar, they just caused a lot of tumors to grow in my uterus. I actually had one in my left breast too. But they were all benign, thank God, but just the fact that I had to go through that before I was 30 years old.”
That was 13 years ago, and Bradford is 43 now. She says she feels much better.
“My iron is better than it’s ever been, not a fibroid in sight, I’ve got a son now. People thought ‘well, you know, you’re probably going to have to get a hysterectomy, you may not be able to have kids because of the fibroids’, and I was able not to have a hysterectomy and still thrive and just feel well. I wanted to share that with other people.”
Dooley struggled with health issues as well, but what also caught her attention as a schoolteacher for young children was how much of a difference good nutrition could make in how they acted.
“For me, I teach also, so I used to really work with my kids, my second graders. The next year I had fifth graders. So I started including healthy eating in my science classes, and I noticed when we ate differently, then the kids’ behavior was different. So that really led me on to saying, ‘OK, the community needs this. So how do we have something delicious, yet nutritious for us?”
Today, as living proof of how well their product works, Bradford and Dooley see the effect of their near-evangelistic approach on others who follow their curiosity right in the front door.
“Even our construction workers, they’re big burly guys and they come in for the first time wanting to know what’s this smoothie stuff all about. And then two weeks later they’re coming in every single day for their wheatgrass shot saying I feel so energized and I’m feeling better. Not eating McDonald’s in the morning anymore. That’s a win for us, ” said Bradford.