By Sydney Stoller
Acai bowls, smoothies and juice cleanses have grown in popularity in recent years, and this frenzy over good-tasting, healthy food does not seem to be abating anytime soon.
The smoothie craze may have peaked several years ago, but Freckle’s Juice today is hitting its stride.
Owner Felicia Forbes chose the company’s name based on a nickname that she was given in high school because, quite simply, she has freckles.
Forbes was 25 and working a desk job when she went for her annual physical and was told she had high cholesterol. She knew a change in her diet was needed.
“My co-workers were eating things like fried chicken and French fries, so I was eating that every day,” Forbes recalled. “Even if I wanted to eat healthy, there was not a local juice bar or a salad bar where I could get something nutritious and filling quickly.”
To combat the incessant takeout that her co-workers ordered, Forbes began bringing food from home, including fresh fruit smoothies. She followed that regimen for several weeks, and her colleagues noticed that she was not only losing weight but appeared to have more energy.
Soon they wanted what she had, so her co-workers gave Forbes money for the ingredients. Each morning she brought in more and more smoothies for people in the office. Friends outside of work heard about Forbes’ smoothie success, and they wanted in too.
When a friend asked her to help make juices for a juice cleanse he was doing, then posted the results on social media, Freckle’s became a business.
Working in her kitchen with just her cousin helping her, Forbes began creating and distributing smoothies via delivery and in pop-up shops. Customers loved the juices and smoothies because of their unique and fun flavors that Forbes said stems from her Jamaican heritage.
“A lot of the ingredients [that we use in the store] are the things that I was raised on like mango, ginger, mint and pineapple,” she explained.
The flavors inspired Forbes to coin Freckles’ motto: Where juice meets culture.
The menu at Freckle’s is expansive. It features smoothies with names like Love Sponge, referring to the popular reggae song by Buju Banton, that contains mango, pineapple, ginger and orange juice.
There are various juice combinations like Feel the Beet (beet, cucumber, carrot and apple) and wellness shots like the Turmeric Shot (turmeric, ginger, black pepper, lime and honey) that have listed health benefits.
Not only does Forbes introduce her customers to new flavors and ingredients, but she explains the way that each one will affect their bodies. The Brain Food smoothie that is in the category coined “Super Drinks” contains spinach and pineapple as well as maca. Maca is an example of a superfood that customers may be unfamiliar with, but the Freckles menu explains that it has “long been believed to improve fertility, sharpen mental focus and memory, enhance endurance, and more.”
In 2015, Freckles’ first store was on Dyre Avenue in Yonkers. A few years later a second location opened at the White Plains City Center. Freckles not only provides healthy drinks along with a recent addition of certain food items, but teaches customers about the importance of healthy eating.
Forbes said that nutrition education can have a big influence on someone’s life.
“It’s so important for us to know about health and wellness. I never tell anyone to give up a certain type of food, but I instead emphasize the importance of balance in their diets,” Forbes explained.
“If we can teach people about balance, we are helping them to live longer and healthier lives,” she added.
Despite the company’s success, Forbes said she faced many challenges as a young woman of color. Her idea for a juice bar was dismissed as a hobby rather than a legitimate business. Customers still ask her who the owner of the shop is, assuming that she is an employee rather than the owner.
Five years into her business venture, Forbes said she is finally getting some respect, but there’s still a way to go.
“Black women are just not taken seriously in the entrepreneurial space,” she explains concisely.
Freckle’s Juice, located at 5 City Place in White Plains, is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday until 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 914-949-8111 or visit www.frecklesjuice.com.
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