Approachable, high quality products with an emphasis on top-notch hospitality -- these are the values that attracted Rachel Layton to I Love Juice Bar when she was first introduced to the Fresh Hospitality brand. Now as Managing Partner, the 32-year- old strategic executive is committed to telling the story about the juice and smoothie concept in a way that hasn’t been done before.
In 2012, Vui and John Hunt set out to create a concept that was largely based on the foods they were eating at home. The Hunts, with a natural passion for healthy living, had already begun incorporating juices into their family’s routine when they came across a small shop for sale in Brentwood. From there, I Love Juice Bar was born, aimed at offering affordable, approachable products to support a healthy lifestyle.
“The very first time I met Vui, I asked her what she wanted the I Love Juice Bar brand to mean,” Layton said. “Without hesitation, she answered, ‘to delight others.’ That is the perfect analogy for Vui and what she has created -- a delightful concept that is welcoming to everyone and inspires us all to live happier and healthier lives.”
TO WELCOME + EMPOWER
With Hunt and Layton at the helm, I Love Juice Bar continues to attract more female representation. Many of the stores’ 32 franchisees nationwide are females, and leadership team members Michelle Hawf (who has been with I Love Juice Bar for five years) and Franklin native Olivia Bane oversee franchise operations and company operations, respectively.
“I feel so lucky to have joined and added to this team of female leaders,” Layton said. “It is so important to me to continue building upon this group that represents diversity and empowerment, especially since there is a natural draw for women to juice and smoothie concepts.”
Layton is currently in the process of restructuring the I Love Juice Bar board of directors to include a more balanced membership. Many of the brand’s store team members are musicians, artists, students and others who require flexibility in their schedules -- another element of the concept that Layton finds notable.
“The people who work in our stores are just like you and me,” she said. “Other juice and smoothie brands tend to make our industry more intimidating, and we really pride ourselves on the ingredient education we provide to our staff so they can share their knowledge with our customers. Living a healthy lifestyle can be simple, and it can be fun.”
That idea has led Layton to make an addition to Juice Bar’s “Have Fun. Be Amazing.” slogan. With a storied background in hospitality, including Marketing Director at A. Marshall Hospitality, and Marketing Executive at Taziki’s, Layton’s belief that an exceptional customer experience directly correlates to a brand’s success has emerged as a hallmark of I Love Juice Bar. She introduced “everyone is welcome here” as a new tagline; a straightforward promise to any person, any age, at any point in his or her journey to a healthy lifestyle, that an open invitation stands at I Love Juice Bar.
“We let people be themselves here. Anyone can be part of the I Love Juice Bar family,” she said.
THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY
One of the I Love Juice Bar locations in Franklin sits just outside the historic Five Points area, at 232 5th Avenue North. Owned and operated by Jason Collins, the downtown Franklin location was one of I Love Juice Bar’s first franchises and is one of the top-performing stores in the entire company.
Its key position in Franklin’s tight-knit downtown district means community involvement is part of the daily routine for Collins. President of Sister Cities of Franklin and Williamson County, former President of the Downtown Franklin Association and Chair of Friends of Franklin Parks’ “Yoga in the Park” event, Collins is no stranger to giving back.
He is an active supporter of many Williamson County nonprofits and schools and is co-writer of “the Fuller Story” song to raise funds for the McLemore House African-American Museum and to support the initiative to place educational markers and a bronze statue of a US Colored Troops soldier around the downtown Franklin square to depict the African-American experience before, during, and after the Civil War.
“It goes without saying that the Franklin community is like a family,” Collins said. “Since opening in 2015, we’ve been welcomed with open arms, and it’s only right that we do our part to return the favor.”
In fact, I Love Juice Bar in downtown Franklin will join forces with the Cool Springs (Carothers Crossing), Belle Meade, Brentwood, Berry Hill, Gulch, Germantown and Mt. Juliet stores to launch a Middle Tennessee giving campaign in the month of December to benefit a local organization.
LOOKING TOWARD 2021
So, what’s next for I Love Juice Bar? A renewed focus on accessibility, for starters. It just launched partnerships with DoorDash and Postmates nationwide, along with a new website that enables online ordering with curbside pickup for customers on-the-go.
I Love Juice Bar also recently reintroduced soups to its menu, in an effort to round out its selection of juices, smoothies, superfood bowls and snacks with a savory option. In keeping with the dairy-free menu, the soup offerings, including Garden Vegetable, Fire Roasted Vegetable, Organic Chickpea Lentil, Vegetarian Chili and Three-bean Chili, are all gluten- and meat-free.
Juice Bar resets are also available for those who are looking to kick off the holiday season with intention. Each reset consists of six juices and is meant to be supplemented with healthy snacks. Customers can purchase a pre-selected reset or customize a plan to meet their health and diet needs.
For Layton, who took on the role as Managing Partner in August 2020, the I Love Juice Bar journey is just beginning.
“Working with Vui and John has been such a gift, and we are incredibly blessed that they have chosen to share their culinary talents and perspectives on healthy living with all of us. I Love Juice Bar understands that the true meaning of hospitality and community goes so much further than serving juices or food in a restaurant -- there’s a deeper connection with our neighbors that we feel a duty to forge and sustain, now more than ever before.”