An Interview with Heather Stevenson of Thirst Juice Co.
Heather Stevenson and her husband, Chris Roche, opened one of Boston’s favorite juice bars, Thirst Juice Co., in November 2014. Heather is an entrepreneurial go-getter, a vegetarian, and an ultra-marathon runner. No stranger to a crazy schedule, Heather, a former corporate lawyer, shares her tips for maintaining balance, running a business and keeping healthy!
At the WELL Summit, Thirst will be providing juices and smoothies at the breakfast on Saturday! We are excited to have them on board as a sponsor and thrilled to have such talented athletes and juice experts in the mix!
Tell me a bit about your background. How did you become interested in juices?
Opening a juice shop was not my original plan out of school. I’m actually a lawyer by training, and worked as an attorney in New York for about three years. I was taking the big firm, big law route, and I really liked it at first. But I was doing the same kind of work over and over again and eventually started to feel unfulfilled. It came to the point where I wanted to do something else, and my husband and I had always joked about opening a restaurant or getting into the food industry somehow. We both love food and are very devoted to healthy living and nutrition. It quickly went from joking conversation to, “why not?!”
How did Thirst Juice get started? Why did you found the company?
I’ve been a vegetarian for more than 20 years, and my husband/co-founder is a pescatarian; we’re both very active and health conscious, and we love food. When we were in New York, there were juice bars on every corner, but there basically weren’t any in Boston yet. We couldn’t believe it! I really relied on NYC’s juice bars when I was training for marathons and an ultra-marathon. When you are training for something as intense as an ultra-marathon, you need ways to quickly replenish your body, and juices and smoothies are a great way to do it. And juices and smoothies are a great, healthy lunch option regardless of one’s activity level. We wanted to provide highly nourishing juices and smoothies, of a high quality like those we’d enjoyed in New York, to people in Boston.
What challenges have you faced starting a business in the Wellness field?
To start a business in Boston, and probably any city, entrepreneurs really have to jump through a lot of hoops and do a lot of paperwork. This took longer than we anticipated which was a bit of a challenge for our launch timeline.
In the field of wellness, it is a challenge to educate people without being preachy. People have a lot of preconceived notions of what is healthy or not when they walk through the door. We definitely don’t want to make it seem like our way is the only way to go, but there are a few fad diets out there that aren’t the best – especially some of the ones that are super high fat and exclude fruits. Whatever your diet is, incorporating more fruits and vegetables is good for you.
I grew up in the Boston area, so we have a natural connection to the city. Boston is a really athletic city and is becoming increasingly conscious of nutrition and health. Over the past couple of years there has been a big rise in boutique gyms and spin studios, and all of it is coming together and creating a really great wellness community in the city. All together, Boston was a great fit for Thirst.
What makes Thirst Juice Co. unique?
As far as I know, we are the only full service juice bar in Boston, meaning we do smoothies, made-to-order juices, and cold pressed juices.
Our other main focus is to make smoothies and juices that are truly healthy. We work on our recipes to make sure they aren’t too high in sugar and that they all provide value. A lot of juice bars focus too much on taste, which can leave you with a really sugary option that may not be as nutritious as the customers are hoping.
Lastly, our focus on education makes us unique. We work with people to give them the right juice or smoothie for their health needs, and we provide lots of additional educational material on our blog.
What is your favorite juice?
My favorite juice is the Green Dream, with kale, pineapple and jalapeno. It has a nice sweetness with a bit of a kick.
For smoothies, I love the Peruvian Pick-Me-Up which is made with mango, almond milk, oats, dates, bananas, and maca. It really keeps me full for a long time and provides fiber and protein.
What are some of the most nutrient-packed ingredients that taste the best in juices?
Maca is my favorite ingredient right now. It has a delicious, nutty flavor and is a natural energy booster that doesn’t cause jitters like caffeine.
People are always surprised how good beets are juices. They are great for detox!
How is juicing part of a well balanced life? In what other ways do you try to live a holistic life?
Our culture tends to glorify busy, which is tough for a lot of people. Luckily, smoothies and juices are a great way to get nutrition on the go when you don’t have time to sit down and eat a salad. I try to live a holistic life by finding time each day for the things I love that aren’t Thirst; as a business owner (and given how passionate I am about Thirst), it’s easy to spend 100% of my time each day working on the business – but I understand that both Thirst and I will benefit from my taking time away to be with my family, friends and dog, or on my own to go for a run or just relax.
What’s next for Thirst?
We’re planning to open a second location later this year – stay tuned for details!
What does living a life of wellness mean to you?
To me, living a life of wellness means living joyfully and supporting others in doing the same, respecting one’s body by providing it with high quality nourishment, activity and a sufficient amount of rest, and embracing opportunities to learn and experience new things.
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