EPISODE 087 : 11/10/2022
Khrysta Hendricks is the President and Founder of The Love Juice Co. It’s a new natural juice and smoothie shop on the south side of Chicago. She only began this venture in April of this year as a food truck, but her plan is to have the brand all over the city and eventually nationally. The Love Juice Co. believes that a healthier lifestyle should be accessible to everyone, so she began her journey aiming to do just that. She spent nine plus years in retail and complex sales in different industries and verticals. She combined that experience from sales with her desire to be an example that you can pursue your dreams while doing good. Her tagline is actually ‘drinks that do good’, because that is her mission. She wants to grow into a powerhouse brand while making sure the core values never change while making an impact in overlooked communities in Chicago.
Host: Ned Hayes
Guest: Khrysta Hendricks
Listen to every episode
Topics discussed in this episode
- Detailed small business insights from Olympia, Washington
- Small business resiliency and adaptation during COVID
- Doubling community outreach during the pandemic
- Opportunities for small business loyalty programs
Watch Spark Loyalty’s Small Business Success Channel
Ned Hayes [00:00:00] Welcome to Spark Plug, where we talk to smart people working at the intersection of business and technology brought to you by Snowshoe, your smarter loyalty leader.
Ned Hayes [00:00:11] Spark Plug is happy to welcome Khrysta Hendricks, the retail leader at the Love Juice Company, to the podcast today. She is the owner and founder, a great company in the food and beverage industry that serves natural drinks that do good to the body and the community. She has a nine year record of achievement in sales, and she truly understands how to hone creative skills to develop solutions, especially in the retail space. She is a 2017 Gold Stevie Award winner, 2018 Bronze Stevie Award winner, and she has a real record of accomplishing business goals as a small entrepreneur. And we think that she has a lot to share with us about retail loyalty and how to build a customer base. So welcome, Khrysta.
Kira Cleveland [00:00:54] Thank you so much. Yes, we’re thrilled to have you here. To kick it off, we’d love to hear more about your career history. You’re a strategist who spent nine years in sales. What was that like? You know, every day was a different day in my sales world. I sold to pretty much all type of verticals. And so I would talk to different industries. And so it was just challenging, you know, because you had to kind of learn their lingo, learned their pain points and had to figure out how to be a solution provider for them and then create a lot of value because it was a hard sell to be in the technology space or competing with a whole bunch of competitors. And so it’s being able to be the best solution for their situation.
Ned Hayes [00:01:43] Right. And it sounds like you really have used your background in sales to kind of jump into building a successful retail company yourself. So how did your background in sales help you?
Khrysta Hendricks [00:01:53] Just being able to being an active listener, making sure that, you know, I put my customer first and I placed myself in their shoes and how to kind of be the best. Like I said, solution providers for them. So making sure that not only did I educate them on my product, but also how can I make their life easier every day? As an entrepreneur, you have so many hats you need to fill on a daily basis. So how can I alleviate some of those hats? How can I help them? I always told my customers, How can I help you get to the next level in your business so you can worry about your core competencies and less on the tedious task at hand. And so after that initial conversation, they would be open and willing to let me in and they tell me the life of their business, because I would ask those type of questions. You know, I would lead into how I can be of assistance instead of a burden. That’s fantastic. And speaking of going to the next level, what was it like to win the 2017 Gold Stevie Award and 2018 Bronze Stevie Award and your role as the senior account executive at Tell Attractive Men? Yeah, absolutely. So it gave me credibility. Obviously. I think a lot of people love when you’re winning, you know, and you gain a lot of credibility. And so having those awards behind me as a salesperson, that definitely gave me that credibility. You know, if I’m winning awards as a company, as a department, then we must be doing something right. And so I would gain a lot of instant rapport with customers with those credibility accolades. Absolutely. I definitely can see that. We’d love to hear more about what your background and how that inspired you to start the Love Juice Company. What gave you the idea and its mission? Like everyone in 2020, I had to pivot. I got laid off and, you know, I had this idea of this juice company with a partner of mine at the time for the longest. So I was doing everything that I needed to do in order to create this company. But I was still working in sales, but it didn’t feel me every day, you know? And when I got laid off, I saw that as a sign to really pull the trigger and pursue this venture. And so that’s how it came about. You know, I put one book or the next and the partnership didn’t work out, but I still was like, you know, I saw a huge need in my community. You know, I just moved to the south side of Chicago and I saw kind of this disparity of like not having a lot of healthy choices in my neighborhood. And I just felt like it was a good niche and I just pursued it. So every month I was doing something, you know, I executed tasks to get to the next level, you know, doing business in Chicago and be challenging posé. And so I just kept going and. How the name came about is I hired a brand strategist because I had these great ideas, but I didn’t know how to convey them on paper. And so I hired a fitness instructor and she helped me with the name, with the logo, with kind of my target market and everything in between. And that’s how it came about.
Ned Hayes [00:05:20] Right. And you’ve tried a number of different strategies to raise funding. You’ve tried, I think, some loans, some startup ideas. What worked and what did not work for you?
Khrysta Hendricks [00:05:30] Well, what worked is, you know, my grassroots, like bootstrapping efforts, being able to have a savings and like seed money already helped. Having good credit helped. And being a part of a program that helped me build business credit helped a lot because I was able to access a lot of capital on my own instead of like a traditional loan or whatnot. What didn’t work for me is these loans, like these bank loans. As a startup, I didn’t want to be in debt. You know, I learned from my student loans period, where I was just accumulating a lot of loans and it just doesn’t work for me. And so I am trying to look at other strategies on how to, you know, get the funding. And so far, so good. You know, I started to do achieve a loan and it actually didn’t get funded fully. And I think that’s because the amount I asked for was a little too high and it was an all or nothing type of loan. So if you don’t get it fully funded to that number, then you don’t get anything at all. So that didn’t work out. But I figure, you know, I’m going to try again at a different time, you know, time in or season. But I’m going to be more strategic in my approach because, you know, the first time we did not meet our goal. It’s unfortunate, but I feel like it happens for a reason.
Ned Hayes [00:07:03] Right. Right. Well, me push you to kind of do good on your own, right?
Khrysta Hendricks [00:07:08] Absolutely. And being more resourceful and definitely seeking out more grants because of the work we’re trying to do.
Ned Hayes [00:07:16] We’re just going to say, I think a lot of retail startups share this experience of trying different things and not everything is going to work, but some things work. I think one thing that’s really worked for you is your products. So could you tell us some about your favorite products and why you believe in your products and how they’re selling?
Khrysta Hendricks [00:07:30] Yeah. So our number one seller is our Smoothies. You know, people love these. It’s a meal replacement. They get a lot of nutrition packing. One last bottle. So that’s our number one seller. I switched it up weekly. So you’re never going to get kind of the same thing unless, you know, I had those staple smoothies that everyone really loves. Our natural juices are pressed. They’re really delicious. I make the combinations really. Not only nutritious, but really tasty. You know, so they love that. And then I’ve introduced gourmet lemonades where, you know, I have some type of health element to it, you know, like activated charcoal. Lavender is a number one seller too, as far as our lemonades go. And so, you know, the products sell for themselves. People, when they see the ingredients, they’re really skeptical at first. But once they try it like That is so delicious, I would have never imagined those combinations together. So I love the description of kind of those intentional lemonades and drinks you’re putting together of your customers. Your tagline is Drinks that do good. So besides creating healthy drinks for body and mind, how else are you using the love juice company to give back to your local community? Yeah. So, you know, we pride ourselves in the, the initiative of like employee within the community, making sure that we’re employing the youth of the community. We are actually going to start a donor advice fund where part of the proceeds of Love Juice will go to this fund so we can disperse it out as grants to really deserving charities in the same communities we serve. So that’s really huge. That’s kind of one of my core values is really like spreading love through our juice and how can we do that more is through like more than that, which is like grants, you know, stipends and connecting with organizations that are kind of already doing the work but need an extra push financially.
Ned Hayes [00:09:33] That’s really great to hear.
Kira Cleveland [00:09:35] That’s fantastic. It’s inspiring. Thanks for sharing.
Ned Hayes [00:09:38] So you have such a great background in sales and technology. You know, some retailers don’t. So do you feel like your background in tech and sales have given you a leg up in terms of building relationships with customers and building a business?
Khrysta Hendricks [00:09:52] Absolutely. You know, the bread and butter, the core of our business is our customers are clients that keep coming back. And, you know, I was able to have those skills hone in on my skills prior to this to really completely understand the consumer side. And that’s really listening to the customer. Hearing what they like, what they don’t like, and really shaping our menu or core business around that. You know, the voice of the customer was huge in my sales role in technology. And, you know, I think in this retail space is as important to really hear the voice of the customer and what they want, what they like, introduce them to new products, new things, new ingredients. And so absolutely like that. I have a leg up on that just because of my experience. So I’m really glad that even though it’s not conventional how I went about, you know, in my career. But I think that, you know, I’m at the right place at the right time because of those experiences, if that makes sense. Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, touching on technology a little bit more, you know, how is technology lending a hand in customer engagement? Have you found any particular tools to be really useful or effective in terms of engaging your customers? Yeah. So, you know, today’s consumer is all about right now. You know, they want everything in microwave time, everything is fast, everybody’s busy. And so capturing data is really important. When we have conversations with our customers, you know, capturing their telephone number, email address so we can keep them informed of like what’s going on with love juice, making sure that they’re engaging with us, they’re coming back for more product, we’re getting repeat business. So it’s really important. I think it’s probably the number one thing that you need to do as a business is making sure that your tech savvy because, you know, most consumers are tech savvy. You know, they want everything right now. And so, yeah, they go hand in hand.
Ned Hayes [00:12:04] Right. And I know you’ve tried a couple of different things for building loyalty. What’s worked for you in terms of customer engagement and in terms of building loyalty, keeping people coming back and what hasn’t worked?
Khrysta Hendricks [00:12:16] Yeah. So I would say, you know, remembering their names, you know what? Especially if they’re a repeat customer, remembering their names, that says a lot. That speaks volumes with customers, especially if they’re getting, you know, the same thing every week. Every, you know, every month we just introduce spark loyalty. And so, you know, that’s been helping us capture data that we need in order to keep track of our customers, create check of their spending and what they’re doing with the love juice. And what’s not working is, you know, just I got to think about that.
Ned Hayes [00:12:53] Well, it sounds like you’re doing all the things that are working. So building out long lasting customer relationships, I mean, that’s the key. If you have somebody come back every day of the week or every week that build your business. Right. Versus just having to sell somebody new every single time, right?
Khrysta Hendricks [00:13:08] Yeah. I would say keeping up with everybody that comes in, you know, maybe that’s not where he is, like making sure I’m capturing every single person. But that’s hard to do sometimes when you’re busy. So making, you know, making sure that, you know, I’m training my staff how to even though we’re busy, how to, like, make sure that we are capturing everybody that comes through the door, you know, even though that may be a challenge, you know, but it’s really important to do. Absolutely. When we talk about, like sustainability in your own business and in the food and beverage industry, what comes to mind? Less waste recycling, you know, making sure that we’re using less plastic, making sure that we are portioning. Right. You know, we’re not over serving customers like and it is going to waste. It’s making sure that we are educating the client, especially with our juice cleanses. You know, if they’re not going to consume all the juice, frees the juice, you know, that’s what I tell my clients all the time is like, look, if you’re not going to consume it right away, you need to freeze it and that it’ll help you expand the life of the juice, because it’s going to be as good when you throw out and you consume it. So it’s it’s doing those little steps, you know, making sure that we are mindful as a company that we are doing our part right.
Ned Hayes [00:14:33] And the lack of waste or making things sustainable is on your end of business owner. But I’m just curious if you see shoppers, if they can make decisions that also make things more sustainable so that things don’t go to waste?
Khrysta Hendricks [00:14:47] Yeah, you know, I’m always an advocate of recycling, so once, you know, if they just drink right then and there, I’m like, okay, can I take your, you know, so I’m kind of training them to like. Recycle their empties or. I asked them and this is the salesperson side of me is, you know, I asked them exactly what they’re looking for and not overselling them, you know what I mean? Like, yo, we’re always going to make the sale, you know? But that’s not the bottom line is like a customer of mine, for instance, she wanted all these things. I told her about the bundles, I told about the juice cleanse, and she wanted to get everything at once. It’s like maybe spacing it out for them. Can’t consume, you know, so much in a short amount of time. So it’s me being realistic with them and telling them, you know, Hey, maybe you need to get this bundle in. Maybe next week you’ll get this system, you know. And so it’s it’s making sure that they’re buying appropriately for what they need. So what do you see for the future of your company? Where are you going? Yeah, I want to be throughout the South Side mainly, but, you know, throughout the city of Chicago. I want to have multiple locations eventually. I want to be in retail so we can be everywhere. And then I would love to be national, you know, eventually down the line so everyone can know what love juices about. And I can be that role model business. All major cities are all big cities that will have us. So I’ll like to expand, you know, and have a bigger reach and just be everywhere, you know, where everyone buys their groceries, their juices. I want to have a space in a store where now they’ll have a little bit of love juice and grab. So it’s it’s a work in progress.
Ned Hayes [00:16:48] Right? So in the best world, just like, you know, naked juices took off and Starbucks took off and Tazo took off. We’d see the love just take off and we’d see this in our grocery stores, Trader Joe’s. And wherever we get great beverages, we’d also get love juice, right?
Khrysta Hendricks [00:17:05] Absolutely. That’s the goal.
Ned Hayes [00:17:07] Okay, fantastic. Well, we really want to support you in your goal. I did want to ask you, because you’re a retailer and you’re kind of on the front lines of the retail struggle every day. Where is retail going nationally? Where is the world of retail going? Are there changes we should be aware of or that people who listen to this podcast should know about that you see coming before other people maybe.
Khrysta Hendricks [00:17:29] Yeah. So the trends is really there’s going to be a lot more vending machines, there’s going to be a lot more self-service options, even more than they are now. You know, I am looking for the right kiosk for self-service right now. So that’s where we’re going. We’re going to see less human facing interaction, even more so than we have seen, you know, so it’s like making sure that, you know, we’re positioned for that change in the next five years or so. Everything from the automatic, that’s where we see retail going is automation. A lot of AI involved, you know, a lot of technology involved.
Ned Hayes [00:18:12] Yeah, that’s really fascinating to hear from someone who is who has just opened, you know, retail locations that you see that future happening. Because typically when we talk to people from Amazon or Microsoft or Intel, they’re the people who seem to be driving that. But you’re kind of anticipating that and you want to get there before other people, which is really inspiring, frankly.
Khrysta Hendricks [00:18:34] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I come from technology, so I understand what that means. You know, I automation. So retail really needs to get ahead of the game because it is a game, you know, where, you know only the strongest and the most viable survive. And so I deftly even though I just opened this year we are getting ready for that change.
Ned Hayes [00:19:00] Well, next time I’m in Chicago, I know where I’m going to get my lemonade and my smoothies. So thank you so much. You make it sound delicious and you have a vision for the future. It’s really inspiring. I know Kira, I think, has one last question.
Kira Cleveland [00:19:13] Yes, it’s my favorite question. You know, just to kind of end this, you know, what do you hope your legacy will be? What do you want to be remembered for? Yeah, I just want to make sure that I’m impactful and I’m intentional with everything I do as a business person, as a retailer, as a mom, I want to make my family proud and my clients proud, you know, especially the ones that have been there since day one. That’s what my legacy would want to be I want to be remembered for. And then that I’m bringing nutrition to the most underserved communities, you know, not only in Chicago, but hopefully nationwide. I think that everyone should have access to. Thanks in love and you know, that is one of our core values, is making sure that we project that every day. Beautiful.
Ned Hayes [00:20:08] Beautiful. Well, thank you so much for being on our podcast and we are so looking forward to having some of your lemonade and smoothies and the other products that you produce whenever we can get out there. And maybe we’ll see it at Trader Joe’s or other stores there.
Khrysta Hendricks [00:20:23] Yeah, absolutely. That’s the goal and that’s what I’m working on right now. So thank you. Thank you, Kara, for the opportunity to voice voluptuous company. Great opportunity and I really appreciate it.
Ned Hayes [00:20:35] Sparkplug is a wholly owned property of Snowshoe. Copyright 2022 2023 Spark Plug Media.