BY BILL PHILLIPS
When Rhea Simpson moved to Prince George a couple of years ago, starting a business was the last thing on her mind.
She and her partner Dennis weren’t sure exactly what they wanted to do and pursuing a Master’s degree was a distinct possibility for Rhea. They both got jobs and settled into making a life in Prince George.
Being health conscious, they enjoyed eating healthy, which included cold-pressed juice and smoothies.
“When I moved up here I really recognized that there wasn’t something available (offering cold-pressed juice),” says Rhea. “There were a lot of amazing places, but for specifically cold-pressed juice and whole food quality smoothies, I was missing that.”
When she started working, she found she often didn’t have enough time to prepare some cold-pressed juice for herself. She wondered if she was the only one wondering why cold-pressed juice wasn’t available.
“It kept staying in my head and we decided to give it a try,” she says.
Col Juicery was formed. The name is somewhat unique and comes from the word collaborate, which is how they want to run their business.
“We really liked that when you break collaborate down from Latin, the ‘col’ means together and the ‘laborare’ means to work,” she says. “One of our focus’ is to work with the community. Working together is where we really wanted to foster our vision. Being able to do that through a product is very cool.”
Not wanting to take on too much, too quickly, they started selling their unique juices at the UNBC Farmer’s Market to test the product. From there graduated to the Prince George Farmer’s Market, where they offered the product all summer.
During this time Rhea and Dennis were producing the juice in their house. Their test showed they were on to something.
“We hadn’t planned for so much demand so quickly and thought we’d do this alongside our full time jobs,” says Rhea. “We’re really excited that people are ready for it and wanting our product.”
And that meant growth. In May, Play Grounds Café started carrying the product. Col Juicery products are also available at Degrees Coffee at UNBC. And, as of January 1, Col Juicery started operating out of the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre, offering cold pressed juice, smoothies and a selection of Play Grounds Cafe food items.
“It’s exciting to be there and have our first physical location and be able to expand our products,” says Rhea.
Plus, they got their house back as, in addition to the retail outlet at the Sport Centre, they produce the juice there. And the Sport Centre is a good fit because the products Col Juicery produces are all about being healthy.
“They area 100 per cent pure raw vegetables or fruit,” says Rhea. “There’s no concentrate, there’s no additives, no preservatives. It’s the next best thing to eating the same ingredients raw. It’s very easily digestible nutrients because it’s not something your stomach has to work hard to break down to gain the benefits. It is focusing on health … getting real whole nutrients from produce itself rather than synthetic ingredients.”
They offer juices such as The Beat, which is comprised of beets, apple, cucumber, and carrots; or The Bold, made up of orange, carrot, apple and lime; The Bright, which is lemon, ginger, cayenne pepper, and apple; or The Green … kale, romaine, apple, lemon, and ginger.
Rhea says she never considered herself an entrepreneur but starting a business in Prince George has been a great experience.
“It’s a pretty amazing time in Prince George to start a business,” she says. “You’re not under as much pressure as you might be in Vancouver where rent could be $4,000 a month. You have time to grow. Having the community support and the ability to grow slowly and take it on financially is a unique combination that you wouldn’t find in other places.”
Col Juicery has caught the attention of another Prince George entrepreneur, John Brink of the Brink Group of Companies, who has become a new customer.
“The first time I saw the product, and I tasted it, I knew right away I want to use this,” says John. “The product is a great idea, very timely.”
He says people, like himself, who are into fitness don’t always have the time to shop for all the produce they should be consuming.
“I virtually have it all here,” he says. “I know what is being used, no sugar added.”
Brink also likes the entrepreneurial spirit he sees in Rhea.
“You have to have the dream, you have to have the passion,” he says. “Once you have the passion, you can work the long hours (it takes to succeed). You make sure the product is good, if you keep doing that, the people will come.”
You can find Col Juicery on Facebook or check out their website at https://coljuicery.ca/