There was a time not too long ago when you said athletes were juicing and scandal broke out, suspensions issued and careers were cast away. Now juicing has a while different take, with a growing number of athletes, teams and medical staffs looking to create the right mixes to do everything from rehydrate to bulk up, all naturally and much of it custom blended. Those custom blends have also been passed along to the consumer in a growing number of commercial operations bug and small, one of which is Lumi.
Lumi, which stands for “Love yoU Mean It”, manufactures USDA certified organic, cold-pressed, high pressure processed fruit and vegetable juices. The brand was born in the aisles of Whole Foods during founder Hillary Lewis Murray’s second year at Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia in April 2013. Inspired by the idea that healthy choices start at the grocery store, Hillary envisioned bringing a delicious and nutritious organic juice to the shelves that would encourage people to approach healthy eating as a lifestyle, not a “quick fix.”
Now Lumi is sold nationwide to independent grocery stores, boutique fitness studios, Amazon, Sysco and professional sport teams. Additionally, Lumi can be purchased online at LumiJuice.com.
We caught up with Hillary, who began her career in quantitative analytics at Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital and was student body president at Penn State University in 2008 to find out how Lumi got into the mix…
The juice field is certainly cluttered, what is the way you can cut through the clutter?
The best way to cut through the juice clutter is to read the ingredient label. Companies get away with a lot of deceiving marketing tactics on their labels. For instance, Organic, Fair Trade, NonGmo – this doesn’t necessarily mean it is free from “natural flavors,” which are chemicals. Reading the ingredients is the key to understanding what you’re consuming. Also, make sure to look for juices that are high pressure processed (HPP), not heat pasteurized. HPP maintains 100% flavor and nutrient retention of raw produce.
You take a lot of advice on product from trainers at teams. Who are your go to people and what is the best feedback you have received?
My go-to people are the nutritionists, doctors, teams chef, and strength coaches. It depends on the team; however, those four stakeholders work together and in turn work with me to iterate flavors and ensure that players and staff are properly fueled. I receive feedback from all my teams. In fact, our Jump Shot juice is the direct result of input from the Washington Wizards. Reorders are the best feedback that I receive! Check out our third party reviews on our site!
Some of the juices mix some pretty extreme flavors; how do you come up with the best ones?
I did a lot of research. I visited over 50 juice bars across the United States and tried every product on the market. I found that juices were high in sugar and low in nutrient dense ingredients. I wanted to create a juice that was low in sugar and high in nutrients so I created a product line that has low sugar options as well as flavors high in naturally occurring sugars like Orange and Apple Juice. I came up with the best flavors by making my friends, family and colleagues crazy, having them try every flavor concoction that I dreamt up.
What’s more important to an athlete; taste or substance in the mix?
It depends on the athlete. Some of them are all about the sweeter juices, and love to drink only the orange and apple. Other athletes are serious about their health, and approach Lumi like a multivitamin or nutrition supplement where it is a staple of their daily diet. Depending on the person, all the juices taste amazing. What we do see is that people get hooked on Lumi by drinking one of our gateway juices like Big Green or Piedmont Pineapple, and then, after a while, transition to the hard greens like Jump Shot or Farmhouse.
Who are some of the athletes you have engaged with and what have they added to the mix (no pun intended)?
We have worked with athletes across professional sport leagues and our devoted fan base includes players for teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland Raiders, Washington Wizards, Cleveland Indians, among others. Some of our biggest Lumi supporters have been NFL linebackers interested in losing a few pounds to increase their performance on the field. To shed the weight, they have stuck to our low sugar options – Lumi Gold Rush shot and Jump Shot, which is kale, collard, spinach, cucumber, and lemon. Some NHL customers have used Lumi to help strengthen immune systems and prevent cramping. The energy shots as well as the straight orange juice and green juices are popular in the NHL. Baseball teams are big fans of the shots as well. They help reduce inflammation and improve performance. The NBA seem to love the Harvest Apple Cider the best! A few NBA teams enjoy the green juices, but mainly, the players seem to prefer the apple and OJ!
How do you scale the business in 2018?
We keep adding teams! Also, we really focus on getting the everyday consumer hooked on juice. We have a great online subscription model where we can deliver the juice bar straight to your door, saving you time and money. That’s the business that we want to develop in 2018. We’re all athletes in some regard and need to ensure we’re feeding our bodies with nutrient rich foods to fuel on energy and perform at our optimal levels.
Who is the key audience for the products?
Everyone – health doesn’t have a key audience. Everyone from A list celebrities and athletes to individuals that work the night shift at a manufacturing firm buy Lumi. We’ve seen it all. Lumi helps make living healthy easy! If you are interested in having less inflammation and feeling more energized, you need Lumi!
What advice do you give to those looking to start a business in a competitive field like this?
Don’t start a juice business. It’s messy, time consuming and incredibly capital intensive. Production is dirty. It takes a lot of man power and meticulous attention to detail. We are incredibly proud of what we’ve built and have worked hard to establish and maintain our standing in the field, but it requires an incredible commitment. If you want to start a company, know your strengths, know your budget, and know your time restraints.