This month we’ve had the pleasure of sitting with our friends over at Greenhouse Juice Co. and how they’ve built a community over delicious and healthy juices. Join us on Oct 25th at our Creators of Toronto Breakfast Series.
What have you found to be the most successful marketing tactic to build your brand?
From our launch in January 2014 to present, the vast majority of our resources have gone into making juice. But we’ve been very lucky. When we launched we were the only company in Toronto making raw, 100% organic, cold-pressed juice bottled in glass—and the city was immediately receptive. Curiosity helped to drive word-of-mouth. This allowed us to keep selling out of the juices we were pressing each night.
When we hired someone who was faster than me at labeling bottles (Dean, who quickly came up with a labeling system that put mine to shame, and is still an instrumental member of our team), we began to think about how to articulate what Greenhouse is all about. Perhaps because my background is in journalism, digital storytelling seemed like the best choice. Ever since, most of our marketing efforts have gone toward creating original content. Social media came first, and then, with the launch of our website in the summer of 2014, we started splashing around on Tumblr, and created a very bare-bones blog called Terrarium.
Through a miraculous stroke of luck, the recipes that we were posting on Terrarium caught the attention of some very generous people in the publishing industry, and the next thing we knew we were putting together a formal proposal for The Greenhouse Cookbook. Fast- forward two years and a great deal of support from Penguin Random House, and the book is now finished, and available for pre-order on Indigo.ca! It’s coming out in April.
What social platform do you most like to engage with your community?
We’re big fans of Instagram. As a digital extension of word-of-mouth it has helped us make friends, and it remains our primary means of communication with our community. Snapchat is fun, too. We’ve just started experimenting with Instagram Stories, which feels disloyal to Snapchat (they’re too similar!), but we’ll likely keep dabbling.
How important are partnerships? How does GHJ approach partnerships?
Partnerships have been a very important part of our company’s young life! From big commitments like our joint Juice + Plants store with Crown Flora at 740 Queen West or our shared space with iQ FOOD CO. in First Canadian Place to our Greenhouse Pro line with VAMS Culture, they have shaped how we’ve evolved.
We approach partnerships a bit like romantic entanglements. Is there a spark? Is there chemistry? Are both parties on the same page? Is there trust? Great—then we’re probably going to have fun together! (BTW, we’re less polyamorous in real life than in brand partnerships, we promise.)
What advice would you give to businesses entering new neighbourhoods?
Meet your neighbours! You don’t have to bake a pie (although pie probably helps), but introducing yourself never goes out of style. (Just to clarify: We mean the rest of the businesses in the neighbourhood. We don’t mean knocking on the doors of people’s houses, although we would probably be tempted—with pie—if it were legal/not annoying.)
How does Greenhouse Juice build a presence in a hyper-local community?
For our first two years in business, 2014 and 2015, Hana and I said yes to nearly every event opportunity that came our way. Between us we did an event every day, and sometimes twice a day. There were moments when—hobbling against pelting wind through the downtown core carrying a cooler filled with 100 glass bottles of dense liquid— we almost regretted our decision to package our juices in glass. But then we bought a collapsible dolly from Canadian Tire, and things improved. Meeting people, pouring juice shots, and explaining what cold pressing is all about were integral to building our community. We were also working in-store every day, and would often recognize friends we had made at events, so we knew that it was making a difference.
How do you market a niche product?
By genuinely loving and believing in it, and knowing that others will, too, once they try it. What differentiates Greenhouse Juice from its competition?
We committed at the very outset—even before we had a name, a location, or a real game plan—to always making the highest quality of juice, with no compromises or shortcuts. We have never wavered from this commitment. We also think our juices taste the best, but we would think that, wouldn’t we?
If you had to define your brand using 3 personality traits, what would they be and why?
Honest – For an individual or a business, there is nothing more important than integrity. We know that we’re only as good as our word. We take that very seriously. We’re not perfect, and we don’t pretend to be. But if we mess up, we own up—and learn from it. We strive to be as frank and transparent with our community as possible through tools like social media and the blog. In return we get a lot of honest feedback from our community, which we are enormously thankful for; it allows us to constantly improve.
Hardworking – There is no such thing as “good enough”—we set the bar as high as we can reach, and then we reach higher. We are passionate and exacting. Obsessive might be another word for it. We know that if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t—and we’ll keep working until it is. We can see the big picture, but we still appreciate the worth of even the tiniest detail.
Grateful – We laugh at ourselves, do the best we can, and thank our lucky stars that we get to do what we love every day.