Executive Chat with Rebecca Patt,
SVP Development at Wray Executive Search
Kat Eckles, Co-Founder & Chief Branding Officer for Clean Juice
Kat Eckles and her husband Landon co-founded organic juice bar concept Clean Juice in 2014 in Charlotte, NC. They began franchising in 2016 and today have awarded over 100 franchises in 17 different states. They operate five corporate stores.
What inspired you to create Clean Juice?
After we had our first child, I became obsessed with my diet as it relates to health and the importance of choosing organic, plant-based foods whenever possible. Eight years later, after our family grew tired of the corporate lifestyle, we decided to follow our entrepreneurial spirits and go into small business together. A juice bar was an easy choice because it was something I had huge enthusiasm for and had spent the previous almost decade indoctrinating myself into the field of wellness.
Why is the emphasis on USDA certified organic important to you?
For me, more than anything, organic just makes sense. Our food was never meant to be preserved, grown, and modified to be anything other than what it is supposed to be, and I truly believe the liberties that we’ve taken when playing with the integrity of our food are only fortifying many of the prominent diseases and disorders that have become an epidemic in our country.
I felt a genuine culpability when developing our brand. People are coming to a juice bar with the singular purpose of making a healthy decision. How could I then turn around serve a product made with ingredients (conventional produce) that I knew to be at best, subpar, and at worst, harmful when consumed? Certified organic was the only choice for Clean Juice from the beginning.
Who is the ideal prospective franchisee for Clean Juice?
Our franchisees need a penchant for healthy living and an innate propensity towards hard work. As you know, the food industry isn’t a joke, and we expect our owners to know all parts of the business, from cold pressing (our best-in-class way to extract juice), to working the register, to doing sampling events with like-minded community partners. This takes a certain grit that we’ve really started to look for during our discovery process.
What is going on with the company lately that you are most excited about?
We just signed a deal with Compass Group to put Clean Juice on a minimum of five college campuses. We are thrilled about this as the next generation thoroughly understands what we do and why we do it, so we know these are going to be great partnerships. Giving students access to organic fruit and vegetables with their dining dollars is a dream come true!
What are five little-known fun facts about you?
1. My faith and relationship with God are the foundation of my life.
2. I’m a mom of five – ages 18 months to 11 years – a blessing like none other!
3. I allow myself one non-organic vice that I certainly abuse: Tabasco sauce!
4. I’m the biggest Beverly Hills 90210 fan that ever lived. Dylan McKay was my first love.
5. I have a fiercely competitive streak inside of me that comes out Wednesday nights when our office plays in a kickball league. In high school, I broke my wrist and figured out a way to wiggle out of my plaster cast and would take it off, so I could play in my soccer games.
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