Nékter started with a realization that drinking your veggies could be a really easy, enjoyable way to hit that daily veggie quota. Living in Southern California, we’re surrounded with opportunities to “eat clean”, but it’s not always the tastiest or most cost-effective option. Our mission has always been to make eating clean easy and accessible for everyone, to be the juice bar of the people.
But to really understand how far we’ve come, I guess I need to take you back to the beginning. In August of 2010, our favorite juice place moved. That was it. That was all it took to spark our little idea that would of course become Nekter. Together, my husband Steve and I wanted to reinvent the entire juice/smoothie category the same way Starbucks had reinvented the entire coffee experience in the early 90s. Within days, we were testing recipes in our kitchen and signing a lease on our first retail space. Mind you, I was a teacher at the time. Neither of us had ever even worked in retail, let alone run a retail store or food establishment, but those things never crossed our minds.
I was running around trying to find blenders and juicers, Steve was overseeing the construction and scouring through Craigslist ads trying to find used refrigerators and freezers for purchase. We were trying to figure out what color we were going to paint the store, what we were going to call it, etc. We signed the lease in August, started to build in September and opened Oct 10th. We googled suppliers until we could find some that would actually deliver to our little store. We wrote up the menu boards ourselves…and, unfortunately, went through quite a few versions as issues popped up (wrong size, missed spelling errors, etc). I must’ve tasted a million “healthy” snacks, many of which tasted like cardboard, to try to find some that we could actually sell in the store.
But when it was all said and done, we were confident that what we had was good. We did $816.57 our first day, and on our way home that night I remember thinking “We are going to become the Starbucks of juice”.
Within two months, after many requests from customers, we stumbled upon the second location in Corona del Mar. Then, not long after that, came the franchising requests. Our first franchisee was our graphic designer. She was intrigued by the concept and together, she and her husband opened the Ocean Ranch location. We ended up doing more than $1.2M in sales our first year. Crazy.
Thankfully, Nekter caught on quickly, and what was one little fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants storefront is now 60 locations, including nationwide franchises, and corporate offices with 30 employees and counting.
We have come so far in just six short years, and we’ve learned so many lessons along the way. We definitely wouldn’t be where we are today without the help of our passionate employees, many of whom have been with us since the very beginning. It’s been quite the journey, and I sometimes pinch myself that we created this.
There are so many amazing things on the horizon for Nekter. We have a children’s book coming out this year, I’m hard at work on a second book, we have new menu items in the works (one that’s been five years in the making!), and we have new franchises opening across the country. I would love to see a Nekter on every corner.
It’s humbling and empowering at the same time to think about what Nékter has become. I am so eternally grateful to all of the incredible communities of which we are a part for embracing us and our mission, and we always strive to give back in those communities to show our appreciation. I sincerely hope we make everyone’s day a little bit easier or happier with that daily dose of fruits and veggies.