Thrive Juice Lab, an all-organic wellness café serving up cold-pressed juices, smoothies, and an array of healthy eats in Orange County, California. Cole shares his journey into juicing and how he found a passion in educating his community on health, nutrition, and the benefits of cold pressing.
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Clover: Tell us about your personal background.
Cole Carson: I had a paper route as a kid, and had that entrepreneurial spirit. It was my first introduction to a business because I had to rely on myself to make the business happen. Then I went into customer service and while I was in college, I got a job as a barista working for a coffee company. I was really inspired by that small business, their mentality for excellent customer service, and the speed of the service.
Clover: How did you get into juicing and how did that lead you to opening Thrive Juice Lab?
Carson: I lived in Los Angeles for about eight years and really became heavily involved with health and wellness. I had some people in my family get sick and experience a lot of health issues that I think could have been curbed fairly easily by implementing healthy foods early on in their lives. That became one of my goals–to spread health and wellness to my family, my friends, and community. That’s really where I got the idea to open Thrive Juice Lab. I started writing the business plan and I focused my efforts on being 100% organic, gluten free, and dairy free.
Clover: You have two locations, one in Laguna Niguel and Newport Beach. Which location came first, and how did you go about opening the second location?
Carson: I opened Laguna Niguel seven years ago, in October of 2014. In the beginning, I was actually living in an Airstream trailer, driving to and from work. I worked relentlessly. I tried to win over every single customer and really spread the message of health and organic food in the community. It started to catch on after only a few short months. By year two, we were really doing well.
From the beginning, my hope was to open multiple locations. I wanted to spread it to more communities throughout Orange County and beyond. After a long, relentless search, I found a second location in Newport Beach and hit the ground running there. It took almost a full year to get the store open and we did well within a couple of months. Then COVID hit in month three, so that came as quite the shock.
Clover: Tell us about your juicing journey and what you’ve learned about it. Were you doing juicing before you began preparing your business plan?
Carson: I did juicing at home. I had a few different home juicers and that was really how I did all of my experimentation with different fruits and vegetables. I would go to all the juice bars in L.A., and most of them at that time were using centrifugal juicers, which are a countertop juicer that you can get and use at home. I began studying the benefits of cold pressed juicing and started to realize that you’re losing a lot of those vitamins, nutrients, minerals and most importantly, the enzymes when you juice with a centrifugal juicer. You’re still getting a lot of nutrition out of it, however when you cold press fresh, you really maximize the nutrient content. It creates less heat and less friction. That’s the way to keep all of those minerals intact and the all-important enzymes.
Clover: Why is it important to maintain enzymes in juices?
Carson: The enzymes are the catalyst to almost every major function in your body. When we drink something that has been pasteurized especially–through either heat pasteurization or even pressure pasteurization–you lose those enzymes. It breaks them down. They’re not as readily available for your body.
Clover: Tell us about your cleanse programs. Are these programs you designed yourself?
Carson: The cleanses were created with the help of a couple of different nutritionists, and some raw food chefs helped cater the menu. The way that the cleanse programs are designed is that you can customize it any way that you’d like. You can do any number of days from one to 30, you name it. A lot of people will do a three-day cleanse. If you have very specific dietary restrictions, we are happy to accommodate those by picking specific juices that work better for that diet. It’s an easily customizable cleanse program.
We do two different cleanses. We have a basic cleanse, which is slightly less involved, but it does incorporate a soup or a salad each day and one of our ‘Anti’ wellness shots. Rather than just being all juice, all day, you’re incorporating something that you’re chewing on. That helps with saliva production, which also helps break down the food in your stomach. With our signature cleanse, we incorporate a liquid-based cleansing smoothie for the morning and an evening dinner time protein liquid-based smoothie. It also consists of two cold-pressed juices, a soup or salad, two of our wellness shots, and a small protein dessert option.
Clover: How do you prepare your juices and other products?
Carson: We cold press our own juices and bottle it in glass by hand seven days a week. We bake our own granola for our acai bowls, make our own sprouted almond milk, and make our own fresh organic, gluten-free salads. We have a hot soup of the day that rotates every single day. We also have a lot of snack items that we make in-house, as well as multiple wellness shots.
Clover: Wow, that all sounds great! How’d you come to use Clover?
Carson: Early on, I started working with ShopKeep. It wasn’t until Clover started working together with ShopKeep that we were able to incorporate Clover in both of our systems. Incorporating Clover devices has been a game changer, to say the least. The customers absolutely love it. They recognize it because it’s widely available at a lot of different locations. We got a lot of praise from our customers as soon as we started using the Clover devices.
Clover: You use the Clover Mini and the Go, what do you like about those devices?
Carson: I really liked the idea of having the customer-facing display with the tip options and the receipt options — whether to email or text or print it — it’s all right there. Ilike the fact that I have my logo front and center. We have two different terminals that we use and we do curbside service, so the Go really helps to alleviate the line. If it starts getting too long for just one line, we’ll jump around the counter with the mobile Go and we’ll take orders right there. We also take the orders and go outside, hand it to [customers] in their cars, and get their credit card right there through the car window. It’s really helpful for the curbside service.
Clover: Are there any other Clover devices that you use for your Thrive Juice locations?
Carson: We use the Virtual Terminal. It’s pretty seamless and It’s very easy to click through and identify transactions and customers. It’s nice to be able to toggle right there between the two stores as well. We use Homebase for our entire team communication as well as scheduling. All of our employees use it to clock in every day, for time requests off, and changing shifts. Everything is incorporated through Homebase, so our staff loves it. It’s nice that you can get a hold of anybody on the staff without having to have everyone’s phone number. You can message them right away.
Clover: What do you hope the future has in store for Thrive Juice Lab?
Carson: I’m focused on opening another location within the next year. We are also in talks with a few different parties about potential franchise opportunities. That’s the immediate goal for expansion, ideally bringing in like-minded franchisees that are focused on health and wellness and believe in this message of organic, healthy eating, and cold pressed juice. We want to expand the brand systematically in that way so that we don’t lose track of our integrity.