Juice and smoothie shops are all the rave right now, and they pretty much come in every color of the rainbow these days. But one local Boston gal, Danielle Perretty of Beacon Blend, is juicing and blending things her way and it’s pretty darn inspiring. Aside from the fact that her hand-crafted superfood blends are all 100% organic, fresh and never pasteurized, what truly sets her juices apart from all the others on the market is that she maintains the integrity of the whole plant, using all of its nutritious goodness including the fiber! We sat down with Danielle to chat about taking a risk to follow her dreams, how she’s built up a community here in New England and why for her it’s about the mind-body connection when it comes to food and wellness.
RK: What made you start your brand? How did you first get the idea?
DP: I’ve always been a wellness and health lover since I was a child; I would make DIY holistic recipes at home with natural ingredients whether it be recipes or even my own hair mask and things like that. Organic was always important to me from around the mid-90s onward, even growing up in a household where it wasn’t as popular. I’ve been making smoothies and juices over a decade for myself, and in 2015 I was pushed to question, “Do I take this dream of mine and start a local kind of juice shop and give it a go or do I go back to my marketing career and continue that track?” Something inside of me just kept getting louder and louder and I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
RK: Has there been a benefit to starting your business in the New England area that you don’t think you’d get elsewhere?
DP: I knew that California and New York were already saturated with these juice shops and Boston has been sprinkled with some. With New England, we’re not saturated yet, but then again I would rather see hundreds of healthy options so they’re as ubiquitous as coffee shops. I think it will drive the mainstream consumer to think about superfoods more often.
I went to the first W.E.L.L. Summit in Boston, and that was the very beginning of Beacon Blend then. I was scared to death but I remember being there and thinking “Here’s a community of people who get me.” It felt like a big group hug. I met some key people there who turned into friends, but just being around these folks with a similar mission was helpful. People are really trying to make change with the Earth.
I will add that if you want to build a community, you have to start the conversation, show up, join that Facebook group or get the courage to introduce yourself. You have to be brave enough to experiment and leverage yourself and your time. The community is waiting for you but you’ve got to dive in!
RK: Are you from New England?
DP: I’m originally from New York but have been living in Boston for 18 years!
RK: How did it all begin? What was the first thing you did when starting off?
DP: I think what crystallized everything for me was the fact that I felt unique in my offering because we keep the fiber in our juice and I really want to hang my hat on that. That’s another thing that people who might not be “Wellness Warriors” may not automatically understand. I really have to break it down and talk about the business.
Because I wanted it to be the most healthy for folks, that was it for me. I wanted to be the healthiest option out there for people following the juice trend, and it is! You need fiber; it builds you up, promotes gut health, regulates blood sugar and also helps you maintain your weight. You also keep all the vitamins and minerals.
When I started off, there was a lot of research initially. First, I wanted to check out the landscape in Massachusetts to get a sense of how many shops in 2015 were here and if I hadn’t already been to them, I went to them, tried their product, and looked at space. I also wasn’t sure how my service was going to be. Do I start a food truck? Do I have the money to do a Brick and Mortar? All of those things went through my mind. I wanted to know who the major players were, and access, “How can I be different and stand out?” So I hit the streets. Then I came back and did recipe development for a solid three months straight which was a very expensive endeavor.
R.K: You have some great flavors! How did you go about creating your blends & flavors?
D.P: So many creations! It was like a full on Whole Foods commercial going on and I called it “The Lab.” I knew I wanted green smoothies and juices, and I knew I wanted each blend to be very different, offering a different taste, flavor profile, and different types of experiences and health benefits. The names of my drinks are things like Create, Adventure and Balance because I wanted to have a positive word for people to think about. There are all kinds of connections: the mind-body and food-body connection. Everything you put in your body affects the way we’re going to think. I appreciate that on a much deeper level.
R.K: What’s your favorite flavor?
R.K: How do you source your ingredients?
D.P: I will constantly try new ingredients when I come across organic and non-GMO . My bananas are fair-trade organic, and I look beyond just the ingredient I need. It’s not just about the banana for me; it’s about who’s preparing it and the community behind it. If I can support a small farmer, I love that and will try to do that. I have various suppliers across the board and it takes a lot of work to get everything organic in Boston. I do a lot of work with the West Coast but a lot of my herbs like fresh mint and greens when they’re in season I can get locally. Then there’s always the taste factor.
RK: What makes Beacon Blend unique?
DP: We are 100% dairy, nut and gluten free which can help a lot of people with allergies. We also keep the fiber in, and we’re 100% organic too. Let’s please hold the pesticides and all that other stuff!
On the other hand, I didn’t want to just make juice to make juice; I wanted to help people feel better, help inform folks where to go to get quick, easy vegetables and fruit into their diet. At the end of the day, I just want to help people feel good because when you feel good you’re happier. I look back at my mission statement which was all about spreading joy and health in little ways wherever I could.
I’m a yoga teacher on the side which helps me stay grounded but my dream would be for people to start living their healthy lifestyle in a similar way. I don’t want to be just a juice shop. I want to be a high vibe community!
R.K: What did you have to learn the hard way? Any challenges along the way?
D.P: I’m still learning things the hard way! I’ve never owned my own business before, and my background is working as a Creative Marketing Consultant. Wellness was always just my passion, never my job. Figuring out how to take wellness and all the things I loved around eating healthy into a business model was a huge learning curve.
Becoming a small business owner has pushed all of my comfort zones and flipped around my cherished self-care time to extremes that I would have never predicted pre-Beacon-Blend. A good friend and entrepreneur who nudged me to take the leap into starting Beacon Blend also warned me that my day-to-day life would be over “as I knew it.” Wow, was he right!
As I’m just over a year into launching Beacon Blend, I no longer have the ability to take yoga classes three times a week, schedule that long beach vacation, or book spa-massage appointments on a whim. In addition to Beacon Blend, I teach yoga and meditation on the side and this is part of my calling, but the reality is that it’s another layer which takes dedicated time. Ironically, in the business of wellness, I found that I’m working seven days a week and needed to find ways to get back to those acts of self love and care for myself. If I can’t meditate for 20 minutes or take a 60 minute yoga class, I will do a condensed version of both practices at home. If I can’t book an appointment at the spa, I whip out the coconut oil and essential oils after a hot shower or I use a foam roller for 10 minutes. Also I’ve been enjoying my fitness dates with friends. The social life is lean for a startup founder and integrating my social calendar with wellness events around town has been a great way to do two things at once. Lastly, I’ve learned that on the days that I feel most stretched, these are the days that I need to pause, think of my intentions and why I’m choosing to build this business, and move onward. It sets my day, helps to ground me, and better prepares me for all of the tasks and responsibilities that involve running a small business.
At the end of the day, for me it always gets down to staying positive, committed, and flexible to change it up. I’m still learning as I go, but I’m trying my best to enjoy the journey.
R.K: Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
D.P: I wish that I took some of my own advice that I give out to friends more and pointed it back to myself, like “Believe in yourself more” and “Know that it’s all going to be OK when you’re up against some scary decisions.” I had high expectations of my brand and product that held me back from making decisions in a faster way. I teetered back between fear and confidence getting in the way. Sometimes the biggest hurdle is that I don’t know what I don’t know yet, and I love to learn but knowing when enough is enough for a startup to keep going.
R.K: What would you love to see in the New England wellness scene that you don’t now?
D.P: As far as some fun options for some foodie wellness lovers, it would be great to see more vegan cafes but they’re still few and far between right now. I’m really happy that Chloe is here, but that being said where are all the other ones? I love that yoga is becoming so common now not just for your typical yogi but that people of all ages and types are getting into it. I’d love to see vegan cafes intermingle with folks who are doing run clubs and yoga, and I’d also love to see more options in organic beer and wine selections. They’re out there but I don’t want to have to search.
It would be great to see New England and Boston raise awareness of the health benefits of meditation too!
R.K: What other local wellness brands are you a fan of?
D.P: So many! Laurel from Nectar & Green is wonderful. We have a similar model hustling as women and making deliveries, and she’s built a really nice brand. There’s a young chef Grace Briton, who prepares gluten free, vegan and dairy free meals each week; she cares so much about customization and is doing a great job. Another company that I love is Fedwell, as they make all natural healthy pet food. Their founder Emily uses coconut oil and flax, staying away from all the grains that are cheap fillers. Her story is 100% honest and inspiring!
R.K: Who has been the greatest influence or role model in starting your business?
D.P: I am lucky to have a lot of wonderful friends and family who have been supportive for this roller coaster ride. One of my good friends Laura has been a wonderful friend, life coach, spiritual coach, and mentor, and she’s really given me the reminder of “We can set out whatever we want to do if we’re really willing to.” Also, “You are in charge of steering your ship. It’s just a matter of where you want it to go.”
R.K: What’s your favorite quote or business mantra?
D.P: “All is well.” I have notes on my computer, bathroom mirror and all over. No matter what, things are going to work out.
R.K: Where do you hope to see brand see in the next 2 years?
D.P: Whole Foods! Whole Foods! Whole Foods! I want to shout it to the universe! Also I want my chia waters in Thinking Cup, the Balance ones!
R.K: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own wellness brand?
D.P: Listen to the voice if the voice doesn’t go away. If it lights you up, pay attention and don’t let fear get in the way. Also, do you research and be open to anything. You don’t have to take every opportunity, but be open in the beginning in knowing it’s OK to dream bigger than your current dream.
R.K: Where can people buy your product locally right now?
D.P: Currently you can buy online for delivery. Otherwise, we sell the Balance blends at YogaWorks in Back Bay and Chestnut Hill. I’m re-framing some of my model to go more toward the wholesale retail channels verses just straight delivery.
R.K: Here at The W.E.L.L. Summit we like to say “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” How would you describe your vibe?
D.P: I would say creative, thoughtful, and high-energy!