Healthy lifestyle entrepreneur and advocate shares personal experience to benefit others.
When LaKeasha Brown turned to juicing to address her own health issues, little did she know it would become her entrepreneurial passion. Personally experiencing the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, she equipped herself with the know-how to help others benefit.
With her Los Angeles-based fresh juice company, 1987 Juices, where she sells 1 to 5-day juice cleanses, Brown hopes to spread the advantages of a healthy lifestyle nationwide. She already ships to the contiguous 48 states and is thrilled that clients are juicing with her coast to coast.
From Personal to Professional
“The most exciting thing right now is our new flavor offerings that we're going to be doing for the fall and holiday season, which is a pumpkin spice latte. We've never done that before, which I'm excited about as well as bringing back our apple cider and our vegan eggnog,” Brown says.
“I want people to be able to have their favorite things and have a clean version of them. Growing up, I loved eggnog, apple cider and pumpkin spice. My goal is just to recreate all our childhood favorites and then see if I can make them taste better than what you're used to so that you're a long-term consumer of the plant-based lifestyle.”
Valuable to the business is her skill in putting together different flavors from sheer memory. She has a good recollection of spices and ingredients from dishes she has tasted. Among the popular juices are Morning Kisses, made with orange, pineapple, ginger, and turmeric; Miami Beach, featuring grapefruit, orange, carrot, and ginger; and Green Light (her favorite) starring collard greens, kale, spinach, green apple, cucumber, and watercress.
“It's my ode to the South and it's the first drink I ever made,” she shares.
Brown’s juicing experience began with bowel movement issues. She learned at the doctor’s that her body wasn't breaking down food like everyone else, even without her eating large amounts. The entrepreneur explored which foods were triggering her body and realized it was a lot of starches.
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She opted for a 30-day cleanse, having never attempted one before, which helped her digestive tract. Brown has embraced a plant-based lifestyle since and helps others reap the rewards from her experience.
Of Passion and Purpose
Born and raised in Conway, South Carolina, Brown went to school in Georgia for an undergraduate degree in communications and a graduate degree in public administration. Corporate work took her to Las Vegas and then Los Angeles. While teaching fitness classes out of personal interest in LA, the juices she sipped on during class received attention from her students, which soon created greater demand.
“I just did it in response. Every time someone had a need, I wanted to fulfill it. I realized that it was a need the more results I saw.”
Brown has helped people with lupus, cancer, and especially women of color who deal with fibroids, live healthier lives. “I knew what it did for me, but I had to do it for others. I said let me contribute in the best way that I can from what I do.”
The juices Brown first sold independently under the brand name LaKeashaFIT, her moniker as a fitness instructor, was now brought under the brand name 1987 Juices (a tribute to the year she was born) as she began making juices for a larger set of clientele. The company was formally established in January 2019, though she had been making juices way before then.
1987 Juices opened at the Westfield Topanga Mall that year, but when the pandemic was announced in early 2020, the mall closed, and Brown transitioned into having just the production facility in North Hollywood. She offers curbside pickup for local clients and nationwide shipping for clients elsewhere except Alaska, Hawaii, and military bases because of the transport time involved. Ingredients are sourced from local farmers, and everything is made as it is ordered, so fresh juices are the norm.
On People and Plans
Brown sees quite a few clients from the east coast, especially Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and New York, and the Midwest. Her self-funded venture is growing slowly but steadily—she now has a team of four. The focus on minority-owned businesses during the pandemic provided more momentum. Through it all, the big challenge, she says, was creating a team.
“You must have people who really care about what you do in the direction that you're trying to go if you want them to be around long term, and our challenge was going back and forth with people who may have been unemployed and were receiving government benefits. I went from having a team of five (at the mall) to just myself.
“Finding new talent to be a part of what we're doing was hard because people were comfortable with receiving what they were making during unemployment. And then a lot of people didn't want to do physical labor because of the opportunity for remote work,” she says.
That, of course, hasn’t deterred Brown from continuing her work at her pace, spreading awareness about juicing, the plant-based lifestyle, living healthy, positivity and more. Her social media posts are a burst of energy and always include information on steps to take to follow a healthy routine. Next, she is trying to expand her ‘kids who juice’ program, which teaches the importance of healthy consumption.
“I would like to implement that programming in schools and in creative spaces where there's a need for afterschool care, and we can come in and help teach kids how to have a plant-based diet. They then go back into their homes and teach them so we can connect that between generational health. That's something that I'm hoping we can grow and get in other schools nationwide one day.”