Morgan M. Hurley | Editor
Local company brings your greens right to your door
A young local woman is building the business of her dreams: keeping people healthy and empowered.
Hanna Gregor is more full of facts and nutritional information that any one person could probably ever use, but that’s why she is so good at the helm of OH! Juice (OH stands for “organic health”), the local, all-organic, cold-pressed juice company she started in 2013.
Less than a year in business, Gregor has worked her way into three of the most sought after farmers markets in San Diego — Hillcrest, Little Italy and La Jolla — and is tearing them up with her fresh juices every weekend. Though she does not yet have a storefront, she’s established a savvy marketing relationship with The Dailey Method, a fitness studio in Little Italy that also acts as a distribution center, and her Vista-based kitchen is already pumping out 5,000 16-ounce bottles per month.
Barely two years out of Penn State with a degree in nutrition — you’d never know that when first meeting her — the Portland, Maine, native knows her stuff, and with the trials of running her own business, she’s learning more every single day.
Natural juicing is becoming a bit of a phenomenon, but it is nothing new to Gregor, who’s been juicing for as long as she can remember.
“I always crafted things, whether it was juicing, smoothies or salads, for family, friends or teammates because I played Rugby at Penn State,” she said. “I knew I wanted to service people.”
After returning to Maine post graduation and recognizing the economy and population was not hefty enough to sustain her dreams there, she took off for California. After two failed attempts at helping others — who didn’t take her talent or value seriously — grow their juice businesses, Gregor took the lessons she learned to forge her own way.
Though those experiences almost made her throw in the towel last year, two friends who did take her passion and education seriously floated her some seed money to get OH! Juice off the ground, and forge ahead she is.
Those two friends — Mike Mendoza and Khaled Azar, business partners in another industry — are still part of her OH! Juice management team, which has since grown to include another Penn State nutrition grad, Anna Duff.
OH! Juice offerings are vast, with flavors that Gregor often comes up with while lying in bed, and include three-day, five-day, seven-day and even longer “extended” cleanses, as well as something Gregor calls the “lifestyle plan,” which is basically a juice “subscription” of six, 16-ounce bottles per week. Plus, they deliver.
“We want to be known as the new age milkman,” Gregor said, adding that clients can get their juices at home, work or choose to pick them up at one of three farmers markets.
Though there seem to be a plethora of new juice companies available these days, OH! Juice has a few advantages. Their juice is distributed only in glass bottles to avoid leeching from plastic; it is cold pressed to preserve its nutrients; and they are all-organic — something they are about to have USDA certified.
Gregor calls juices that don’t use organic fruits and vegetables a “pesticide cocktail.”
“This is a nutrition-based company, this is not just a fun, fad juice company where we want to make sweet juices with the name ‘cold pressed’ on them,” she said. “This is legit.”
While competition may appear stiff, Gregor knows what she’s up against; she knows what their juices consist of, how they are made, the containers they are sold in, and what drives her competitors. But Gregor’s true passion is educating her own clients about nutrition.
“Cold pressed is the most superior way to extract juice from a fruit or vegetable,” the young entrepreneur explained. “There is no heat and very minimal oxygen, which are both very detrimental to nutrients. Heat denatures the nutrients and changes their composition, like the sun does to our skin. Oxygen also breaks things down.
Gregor said there are many juices on the market that say they are cold pressed but upon closer review are misleading and actually using a process known as “high-pressure pasteurization” or HPP, which kills the nutrients.
“In the grocery store they are cheaper, and advertised as cold pressed, but there is a little disclaimer on the back that says they have a 60-day shelf life,” she said. “That means the safety from bacteria may be extended but the nutrient shelf life is gone. You cannot extend the nutrient shelf life, it is five days and done.”
Gregor learned a great deal by being a juice customer herself, routinely starting with a basic apple, kale and lemon, and then adding superfoods one at a time. Always ending up with a juice that was $12.50 out the door and not even cold pressed, she knew she could do better.
“We are nutrition first and then flavor,” she said. “You’ll find that people either love or hate some of our juices. That’s okay. But if you hate it, we’ll have something you love, too.”
Her standard six-pack, which can be mixed and matched, includes things like cantaloupe, kale, beets, cucumbers, romaine, pomegranate, coconut and Himalayan sea salt. A full list of ingredients of each flavor is on her website. While she said she used to be able to explore flavors and be creative on a more spontaneous basis, USDA certification will change that.
“We want to be different,” she said. “We don’t want you to go to any juice bar and find similar juices.”
Gregor said people doing cleanses often aren’t sure what they are getting into but often have specific expectations.
“People will think they are going to have these huge transformations but rarely do we ever have disappointment,” she said, adding that even the smallest changes motivate people.
Cleanses, as well as regular juicing, help people with their digestion, skin tone, hair growth and health, headaches, skin rashes, and most importantly, your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
“You can even have better breath and better body odor, too, because instead of having fatty steak coming out of your arm pits you are having fresh pomegranate,” she said, laughing. “But the positive thing is, when you do give your body the good stuff, your body asks for more of that, intuitively.”
They generally recommend the three-day cleanse as a great jump-start, but lately have found more and more first-time clients are capable of the five-day and beyond. The longer the cleanse, the better the results.
What should you expect? Gregor said you should feel “a little bit lighter, tighter, motivated, with a little bit more energy.” She acknowledged that everyone’s body is different on a cleanse.
But the most important thing Gregor said she wants her clients to get out of the process is education and motivation to make better decisions about what they put into their body.
Want to start 2015 off with a seven-day cleanse? Visit OHJuicecleanse.com or visit Gregor and her staff at the Little Italy Mercado this weekend. Want to invest? She’s looking for those types of clients, too.
—You can reach Morgan M. Hurley at email@example.com