From Pet Supplies to Pre-Packaged Beverages: Interview with Lemonkind Founder and CEO, Irene Rojas Stanbury
LemonKind is an environmentally and socially-driven company that makes all-natural fruit juices and teas that are 100% good for you and good for the planet.
LemonKind CEO Irene Rojas Stanbury.CREDIT: Courtesy LemonKind
With the craze of fruit juices and cleanses, how can you know that what you're drinking is actually healthy? Many fruit juices are full of added sugars, colors, and preservatives. That's why LemonKind is committed to making healthy beverages that are all-natural, preservative-free, and non-GMO certified. I sat down with Irene Rojas Stanbury, Founder and CEO, of the good-for-you brand to find out more.
LM: Let's start by giving me a snapshot of you and the company.
IRS: LemonKind is an environmentally and socially-driven company that makes innovatively delicious juices and teas that are all-natural, preservative-free, superfood-infused and 100% good-for-you.
We've selected colorful, cutting-edge ingredients that visually represent the rainbow to ensure you're receiving the essential nutrients needed to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. Each juice includes only whole-foods, vitamin and mineral-rich fruits and plants, and clean ingredients - turmeric, chlorella, chia seeds, whole-grain brown rice, Japanese matcha, and Aronia berries.
We are Non-GMO Project Verified and Certified Gluten Free, as well as Certified Woman-Owned. Our juices are vegan, and our teas are OU Kosher Certified. We've been recognized as on-trend market disruptors, selected to be part of the incubator UNFI NEXT program, and are 2018 NEXTY Award (think the Golden Globes for the food & beverage industry) finalists.
We utilize packaging innovation to extend freshness, provide functional benefits, and ensure safe delivery. We offer clean labels, eye-catching designs, recyclability via Terracycle, and unique ingredients that draw in the elusive, sought-after millennial target market. We're selected as Amazon's Choice, which means anyone asking Alexa to buy a juice cleanse will be recommended LemonKind.
An important focus of our company mission is giving back. We donate $.10 per can to Many Hopes (manyhopes.org), a Kenyan non-profit who gives 100% of investments directly to Kenyan children who suffer from poverty and abuse. Their focus is to raise young boys and girls with the education and tools to fight for justice in a country riddled with corruption and extreme hunger. Last year, LemonKind also donated pallets of juices and teas to 'Feeding South Florida,' to provide hurricane relief to those impacted by the storms.
LM: Tell me about your origin story. Why did you start this company?
IRS: As it turns out, I come from a long lineage of generations who dedicated their careers and hobbies to agriculture, health and wellness, business, and exercise. It's no wonder I chose to develop a company the marries all these interests into one. My great-grandfather was a business man, my grandfather was an agricultural engineer and farmer, and my parents are both health practitioners and avid marathoners. As it started, when I was a little girl, our family frequently visited my grandparents' farm. The adults would arrange scavenger hunts for us kids to collect as many acerolas and mangos we could gather. I loved our days on the farm - running around, giggling, and harvesting fruits.
As time passed, I eventually moved to the United States in 2001 to pursue my education and figure out what life in America was all about. I studied hard - spending most of those first years with my head in a book. Upon achieving my MBA, I earned myself the Director of Marketing & New Product Development chair at a consumer packaged goods company that specializes in pet care. I remember feeling proud. I learned a tremendous amount, yet remained unsatisfied with not having my hands in absolutely everything. It was time to leap into my next chapter - the chapter of LemonKind.
While the idea didn't pop overnight, I had noticed since moving to the states that natural fruit juices - so abundant in my country - were impossible to find. And, what did exist, was teeming with added sugar, colors and preservatives. I found myself frequently making my own juice concoctions at home to get by. And there it was - the niche in the market I was destined to 'squeeze' (pun intended) - and so, LemonKind was born.
My mission was and still is to make 100% natural premium beverages more accessible to people who seek countless health benefits beyond what 'regular' fruits and veggies can deliver. The beverages' beautiful designs correlate with and celebrate the meaning behind the product - 'your health is a beautiful thing.' I, sincerely, concur.
LM: What has been your favorite part of creating LemonKind?
IRS: Product development - the moment I finally had eight incredible recipes (five juices and three teas) I loved.
LM: What was the inspiration behind the aesthetic/branding?
IRS: When I launched LemonKind in 2014, it was my mission to create a visually stunning all-natural beverage that went beyond just being 'healthy.' I wanted the products' packaging to be a work of art - and the contents inside it to be a nutritionist's dream. I partnered with top food scientists to craft unique formulas that infused juices and teas with organic botanicals - superfoods like turmeric, acerola, chia seeds, and cinnamon. It was my mission to make 100% natural beverages more accessible - and for my drinks to provide people with health benefits that went beyond what regular fruits and veggies could deliver. The beverages' beautiful design celebrates the meaning behind the product - your health is a beautiful thing.
LM: What would you say makes LemonKind different than other beverages available today?
IRS: The beverages are beautiful, they are functional, they taste great, they are affordable, and they are convenient. We are also environmental and socially driven. We are minority women-owned and made in the USA. We don't use concentrates ever or additives or sugar or preservatives. They are shelf-stable for up to 1 year and yet have truly clean labels.
LM: If you had to describe LemonKind using only three words, what would you choose and why?
IRS: Naturally beautiful beverages. Why? Nature is clean and simple, and so are our labels.
LM: What is your take on the future of LemonKind? What's next?
IRS: Continue to disrupt the market. Continue to set the standard for clean-label, functional benefits, flavor profiles, while always remaining accessible and relevant to our customers.