Day in the life of a fresh juice producer
PUBLISHED: 07:30 24 July 2016 | UPDATED: 07:30 24 July 2016
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
Alexandra Auger, 24, winner of the Kent Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2016, on growth, ambition and the benefits of pure juice
Name: Alexandra Auger
Job title: Managing Director, The Juice Executive
Where: Lordswood, near Chatham
Tell us a bit about you
I was born and have lived in Kent all my life, bar a short stint in London after university. Born in Chatham, I grew up in Bearsted and went to school at Maidstone Girls Grammar and Maidstone Grammar School. I studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at The University of Exeter, a well-rounded degree that has proved quite useful for running a business. Business runs in the family, so I think there was always a good chance I would run my own, I just didn’t expect to do so quite so early.
Tell us about your business?
The Juice Executive started small, based in my parents’ garage for the first six months. It involved a lot of late-night, all-day juicing, delivering to London in the early hours of the morning and knocking on lots of doors to get people to try the product.
Within six months we employed our first members staff and moved into our juicing facility. Two years later we now have 15 staff, are doubling our facility size this year and have lots of exciting plans. We produce fresh, cold-pressed vegetable and fruit blends for lots of different customers, including some very famous names.
We also have our own brand, THINK Press, which supplies juice cleanse programmes across the UK as well as juice boxes and subscriptions.
Have you won any awards?
It was a real honour to win Produced in Kent’s Kent Entrepreneur of the Year Award this year and totally unexpected. PinK has always been hugely supportive of me and the business; running it alone can sometimes be testing and a little isolating, so the recognition helps reassure us we are on the right track.
How do you promote?
We actually do very little advertising for the main white label side of the business. Our clients are generally high end and discretion is key, so we keep quiet about exactly what we are doing for people. For THINK Press the key to success has been social media; platforms like Instagram have been really powerful in reaching a bigger audience, and it’s fantastic for customer engagement too. With cleanse programmes we find half the challenge is psychological, so our clients like to share their experiences online and we can give them encouragement and support.
Do you offer any training?
We have two apprentices currently, one within our production team and one within our warehousing and packing team. Apprenticeships are a great way of getting young people into work and start ups are such a fantastic place to learn as everything is so fast paced, so it’s a great combination. We also have SALSA and Soil Association Organic accreditations within the factory, so all our kitchen staff have to go through quite rigorous training
How many staff do you employ?
15 in total, a team of 10 in production and packing, then our management level staff in technical, administration, operations, production, and me!
Your typical working day?
Our office and production facility are all in the same building and I arrive around 7.30am. Our fresh stock is usually here when I arrive (it gets delivered around 4.30am); we order around a tonne a day, so there are a lot of vegetables when I get in.
The production team arrive around 8am and are juicing until 3pm; on an average day we’re producing around 500 litres of juice, so there is always a lot going on.
I’ll be talking to customers, checking quality, booking in orders, making sure everything is running smoothly. Being a start up, I’m still very hands on, so it’s not unusual to see me helping pack up some deliveries for the day when we’re full on.
Between 4pm and 6pm all the juice made that day is boxed up and sent straight to London for same-day delivery, or sent up to a national hub for deliveries all over mainland UK. From 6pm to 7pm it’s normally ‘decompression time’ from the day, and when we sort out the production plans for the next day so we can do it all over again. We currently operate six days a week, so there is a lot going on.
Your business in five years?
We’re doubling the size of our unit this summer, which will help free up some much-needed space. This will bring more staff and give us the potential for more growth. We’re running our current facility and team to capacity, so it’s exciting to think about how much we will be able to achieve with more space and resources. In five years time I’d like to think I’ll be able to strike a bit more of a work/life balance, as 70 hour weeks isn’t great for a social life, but for now I’m enjoying the pace.
What’s your favourite juice?
I love a really good pure greens juice, but my favourite product has to be a dairy free ‘mylk’ we make from cashew nuts. A blend of activated cashews, medjool dates, raw cacao, Himalayan sea salt and filtered water, it’s like a healthy chocolate milk.
Marks out of 10 for the job?
Some days 10, some days one. Running a small business really is a rollercoaster of emotions. But I never get bored, I’m always challenged and I’ve been able to create something I’m very proud of; at 24, that’s pretty good in the satisfaction stakes. w
Get in touch
The Juice Executive, Until 31, Revenge Road, Lordswood, near Chatham ME5 8UD
firstname.lastname@example.org or 01634 790962