Daily Greens: The Passion and the Purpose
By Shauna Martin
My sister and I were both diagnosed with breast cancer in our early 30s. We had no family history of breast cancer and no genetic defect that would cause us to get it at such a young age. Our doctors concluded that we were probably exposed to some horrible environmental carcinogen, likely pesticides, when we were young girls. To get breast cancer at such a young age is pretty devastating. We both had to undergo several years of active treatment, including chemotherapy and double mastectomies. Despite all of that, when you are diagnosed with cancer this young, you still had a reasonable high chance of your cancer coming back again.
My son was 1 when I was diagnosed and I knew I needed to stay around for him. This pushed me onto a health journey to figure out what I could personally do to ensure that the cancer didn't come back. I started reading and discovered there is an undeniable connection between food and disease. In America, so many modern diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, some cancers, and obesity are completely preventable if we eat the right foods. After learning this, I switched to an organic, plant-based diet over the course of the following years and began to make myself an organic green juice every morning. I realized that while being plant-based was not for everybody, consuming an organic green juice could make a huge difference in people’s lives and the way they ate. That sparked my passion to share this habit with the world.
Daily Greens essentially got its start when I began evangelizing my friends and family members about the amazing benefits of consuming a daily green juice. I would coach them, write recipes for them, just plead with them to make a juice every day. Most people would get really enthusiastic about it for a little while but after about 3 or 4 months, they’d put the juicer in the cabinet and say, "This is really hard. I never have the right ingredients. I have kale exploding out of my refrigerator. I had to buy a second refrigerator for all the kale. I can't do it. I believe in it, and I think the benefits are undeniable, so if you ever make it, I will buy it from you."
That was the universal answer I got from everybody, so one night we made 60 bottles of juice and took them to the Farmer’s Market the following morning.
My mission from the beginning was to get a bottle of Daily Greens green juice into the hands of as many folks as possible. That meant that I had to make my juice affordable and available everywhere. But if you’re going to sell fresh juice in retail stores, then you have to make it safe. The traditional way of making juice safe is to pasteurize it with heat, which kills most of the vital nutrients. I'd read about this alternative technology, however, that companies were using to bring guacamole to market without heat. It involved a high pressure machine that puts pressure on the outside of the bottle and kills listeria, E. coli, salmonella and disrupts yeast and bacteria so it can no longer grow. With that, it's then safe for consumption and sale in grocery stores. It meets the FDA requirements and also gives the product a shelf life of 70-90 days.
I cold-called the CEO of Wholly Guacamole, which is located in Texas and uses a high-pressure processing (HPP) machine for fresh avocados, and I said, "Where's your HPP machine?" The CEO told me that their machines were in Mexico, but that there was one in Dallas. He then graciously offered to make some introductions, which turned out to be amazing because the owner of that HPP machine took me under his wing, mentored me, and allowed me to bring very small batches of bottles at a time to his plant.
Our first retail customer was Wheatsville Co-op, in January, 2013. Our second was Central Market, that was February, 2013. Our third customer was Whole Foods region-wide, so all of Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma by April of 2013. H-E-B came online just a few months after that. So within six months we were at full distribution in the major outlets in Texas.
We bootstrapped for the first six months. I had a personal line of credit and loaned myself $100,000 and didn't pay employees. I literally recruited and said, "I will pay you as soon as we get an investor." I had a whole slew of employees working for free for awhile. I can't believe they did that. Many of these same employees still work for us today and have grown up with the business and now fill leadership roles within our company.
I promised to pay them as soon as we got funded, and I followed through on that promise. We funded about six months in, after I found a partner who then business partner, running operations and finance so that I could focus on sales. Since then we’ve done about three major rounds of funding. We had an Angel round, we took money from a strategic investor and now we have a private equity firm involved in our business that provides amazing support and resources.
Our mission is to get a green juice into the hands of everyone in America so they can drink it every single day. That means we have to get it everywhere and it has to be affordable. We've been very successful in the last year bringing the price down to under $5.00. If you were to actually buy the same organic ingredients and try to make it for yourself, the ingredients alone would cost you $10.00.
We’ve been able to bring costs down by going directly to farmers down in the Texas valley. Another thing we do to keep prices low is to constantly work on operational excellence and efficiency. Whenever we cut costs, we give that back to the customer by lowering the price, because I so believe in the way it changes your life that I want everybody to have this juice in their hands and be able to drink it everyday. It should not be thought of as a luxury item but rather an everyday habit. When it's an everyday habit, it changes your life, for the better.
Since inception, I knew that this company was born out of my breast cancer experience and that I wasn't going to have a business unless I was giving back. From the beginning, we've always given away a percentage of our top line revenue to organizations that support young women with breast cancer. I also co-founded one of the biggest galas in town, Art Bra Austin, as well as the local support network for young women affected by breast cancer, the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls, a program of the Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas.
For the last two years, we've partnered with Young Survival Coalition. It's the only national organization that exists to provide services to young women with breast cancer. They provided services to me and my sister when we were going through our cancer treatments. They have these big summits around the country where you go and meet with other young women and hear from experts about the things you should be doing and what you should be looking for and the tests you should be having. We've been supporting them with a big October campaign and have raised thousands of dollars for them over the last two years.
This October, we'll put these neck hangers on the bottles we sell at all of our retail outlets, where consumers get $1 off the purchase of the bottle and then we match it with a $1 contribution to the Young Survival Coalition. That's been something we've done for a couple of years to help raise awareness about an organization that supports young women with breast cancer and to help our customers participate.
My focus now is to get Daily Greens into as many retail outlets as possible, pretty much any outlet where you can purchase a beverage. Everybody deserves health and wellness and this is a way for people to have that. If I can get a daily green juice to them at a price that they can afford, not much more than a soda or a tea—why wouldn't I do that?
Find out where you can purchase Daily Greens near you by visiting their website, www.drinkdailygreens.com.