With over 70 stores in the United States, Pressed Juicery has cemented itself as a health and wellness favorite. For Co-founder and CEO, Hayden Slater, this is just the beginning.
College kids usually have less-than-favorable things to say about their 9am courses. For Hayden Slater, however, a mandatory 8am yoga class planted a seed of passion for what would eventually become Pressed Juicery.
“The instructor, Kris Carr, was always carrying around [this] giant jug of green juice,” Slater remembers. “She later became a close friend and mentor and I learned she had survived a terminal cancer diagnosis.” Inspired to gain more health, he started incorporating wellness habits into his life. “You know it was getting real when I was chanting and meditating on a Friday night and not out at a party!” he says.
While that was his introduction to the power of wellness, it wasn’t until post-graduation, when he took some time to travel, that he committed himself to a healthy lifestyle. In fact, his first five-day juice cleanse quickly turned into 30. “I lost almost 50 pounds and felt better and more clear-headed than I had in a long time,” Slater says about his lifestyle changes. “But I didn’t want my story with juice to end in my own kitchen.”
This determination blossomed into Pressed Juicery, which currently has a projected revenue of $75 million for the fiscal year of 2019. Suffice it to say, the past 8 years have been a long-winded journey, with high highs (“I finally felt like we were playing with the big kids”) and low lows (“it was like a bomb had dropped”). Ultimately, the fruits of this labor were sweet – or shall we say, apple-lemon-ginger-cayenne sweet.
1. What is your background?
I [was] born and raised in Los Angeles and was always somewhat educated on health and wellness but never practiced it. I went to NYU for college and then moved back to LA to start a career in entertainment at HBO. When my show went on hiatus, I took some time to travel since I didn’t study abroad in college. I discovered juicing and cleansing there and started a five-day juice cleanse. I felt more vibrant and clear-headed than I had ever felt in my life, and five days turned into 30 days – and it really was the catalyst for a complete lifestyle change. When I came home to LA, I knew I wanted to take this newfound clarity and passion and turn it into my full-time job. Shortly after that, Pressed Juicery was born.
2. Where do your interests in a healthy lifestyle – and the benefits of juicing – stem from?
My major at NYU required that I take an 8am yoga class, which literally no college kid wants to do. The instructor, Kris Carr, was always carrying around a giant jug of green juice. She later became a close friend and mentor and I learned that she had survived a terminal cancer diagnosis. Her philosophy was that if she couldn’t control what was going on with her body, she could control what she was putting in her body. I slowly started to incorporate wellness habits into my life like drinking a daily green juice. You know it was getting real when I was chanting and meditating on a Friday night and not out at a party! From there, I can’t say I became the picture of health and wellness. As I mentioned, after college I moved back to LA and started working in the entertainment industry. Long hours and craft services caused me to fall back into old habits. It was my craving for new experiences that gave me the courage to use my hiatus time to travel and I can say that trip was truly the moment when the real change started.
3. How was Pressed Juicery was founded and how it has grown over the years?
Returning from my trip, I was excited about the changes I was making for my own health, but I felt unsatisfied professionally. The health benefits for me were crazy – I lost almost 50 pounds and felt better and more clear-headed than I had in a long time – but I didn’t want my story with juice to end in my own kitchen. I wanted to funnel my new passion for health into a professional career, and wanted to share cold-pressed juice with my friends and family. This was 2010, when cold-pressed juice was just starting to show up on the east coast but still hadn’t quite made it to the west coast. Two of my childhood friends, Carly de Castro and Hedi Gores, had had similarly positive experiences, so we decided to go for it, opening our first Pressed Juicery in a broom closet in Brentwood. We worked hard to create fresh, high-quality ingredients and made juice overnight in a kitchen we rented from a cupcake shop, and sold bottles during the day. We relied on word-of-mouth for advertising, and soon had a significant following – people did want to drink something that made them feel great. From there we grew rapidly, and our mission evolved. We started making juice for our friends and our families, and we soon realized it was our greater responsibility to make juice for all friends and all families. Today, our mission is to make high nutrition a realistic option for everyone. We make it delicious, nutritious, great-tasting, affordable and for everyone. We currently have over 70 stores in the US and are continuing to expand.
4. What does a day in your life look like?
I’m an early riser and wake up anytime between 5 and 6am. After a short meditation, I’ll then take my dog Finley for a hike or down to the beach. Afterwards, we always stop by Blue Bottle for a coffee and Pressed for a green juice. I love boxing or sometimes I’ll even do a Barry’s Bootcamp class afterwards. On my way into the office, I’ll usually stop by a Pressed store or meet someone for breakfast. I love meeting all kinds of people and believe you can learn from every single conversation. I am constantly learning and being inspired by those around me. At the office, it’s meetings, meetings, and more meetings. I work closely with all of our teams and am involved in marketing, real estate and creative projects. After work, I’ll grab dinner with friends or cook at home (I’m down with a slow cooker) and usually get to bed early.
5. What is one obstacle you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
Just as Pressed Juicery began to expand, things got complicated with a visit from the FDA. We had decided to start both local delivery and national shipping, and started taking orders through our website. I reached out to the FDA and said I wanted to make sure we were doing everything by the book.
When the FDA inspector arrived, I assumed that I’d just tell her about making juice, who I was, the history of the company, etc. As I walked her through the production line, she took notes furiously and didn’t speak. At the end she informed us that what we were currently doing required her to shut us down. It was like a bomb had dropped. I asked if she’d be willing to work with me instead of just forcing us to close. She agreed to give us 30 days as long as we kept her in the loop every step of the way. At the time, our production was pretty inconsistent. We learned quickly you can’t just take a recipe and scale it using the same proportions. We’d have these crazy variations in flavor profiles and we didn’t realize how crucial the cold chain (meaning products stay cold from when they are produce until they are juice) was.
We addressed the cold chain first. It was a massive investment, but it allowed us to stay open. With our savings and some money from friends and family, we rented a refrigerated truck until the one we purchased arrived. We also turned the entire back of our facility into one huge refrigerator so we could control the temperature during the pressing process. After several months of back-and-forth, we got word that everything we had done was acceptable. I finally felt like we were playing with the big kids. This moment truly changed the way we did business.
6. What was the best moment of Pressed Juicery’s journey so far?
We’re really proud to have just decreased our prices to $5 a bottle with our new membership program. It really supports our mission of making juice affordable and accessible to all, and it’s been my goal for some time to make juice the same price as a Starbucks [latte]. If we can encourage people to swap out their morning coffee for fruits and vegetables, I feel like we’re doing our jobs.
Some facts about Hayden:
- His first job out of college was an executive assistant position with Cynthia Mort, the show runner of an HBO series called “Tell Me You Love Me.”
- His favorite Pressed Juicery Freeze combination is “vanilla Freeze with blueberries, cacao drizzle and a little sea salt.”
- His ideal cheat meal is “a really good pasta or Domino’s thin crust.”
- Some individuals that inspire him include “Marianne Williamson, Howard Schultz, and Richard Weintraub.”
- The words he lives by are “be happy and help others.”
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