“Slow down to speed up” – words to live by, and perhaps the best piece of advice ever offered to Tyler Colford, as he prepared for his most recent business venture. “I’ve really taken those words to heart,” he says. “To me, it means that you’ve got to take the time to really define your offering and set your values, in order to lay the foundation for future growth and decisions. Ultra-fresh, nutritious, organic, accessible – we set our core values early, and have taken our time to build an experience around them for our customers.”
Tyler is referring to his company, Village Juicery, which makes certified organic, nutritionist-approved, cold-pressed juices, along with an assortment of tonics, booster shots, smoothies, breakfast jars, and other freshly prepared meals and snacks. Village Juicery currently has four retail locations in Toronto, with the 5th slated for Yorkdale Mall this November, and plans for further growth. They also offer their full range of products through over 100 wholesale and co-packing partnerships in the GTA, including leading cafes, restaurants, hotels, grocers, and other health-oriented retail partners.
Founded jointly between Tyler and his lifetime friend, Omar Shaheen, Village Juicery is very much a business that strives to offer food and beverages that are as close to nature as possible. Starting with the product itself, it is the only certified organic, fresh juicery in the Toronto market, and uses no pasteurization or processing of any kind. As Tyler explains “our products are as close as you can get to eating whole fruits and vegetables. We don’t use any preservation processes or additives. Just pure, fresh, raw organic juice and food.”
But the obsession with all-natural ingredients goes beyond the product. Everything in Village Juicery’s stores (from the glass bottles to the garbage bag liners to the paper napkins) is completely compostable or recyclable. The company is passionately focused on 100% landfill diversion. Even the waste produced in the manufacturing facility (fruit and vegetable peels or pulp) is sent to local farms to be used as compost.
While every product at Village Juicery is designed with nutrition and convenience in mind, the benefits are even greater. “Our customers aren’t just seeking replenishment when they drink one of our juices – they are also looking for the nutrient properties,” explains Tyler. He refers to one customer who had a recent surgery on her knee and sought help with inflammation. “She came in daily for our fan favourite juice blend, Be Radiant, which contains a healthy dose of turmeric. The anti-inflammatory properties really helped with her healing process,” he says. And while Tyler doesn’t credit this solely to Village Juicery, he points out that bringing awareness to the customer about the healing properties of this superfood contributed to her overall recovery.
In fact, coaching and education is a big part of what makes the Village Juicery experience so unique. Each person on staff in the retail locations is a certified nutritionist. They encourage customers to engage with them, so they can recommend products specific to the customer’s need. Village Juicery even offers complementary one-on-one consultations for juice cleanses – or “Reset Programs” – to detoxify and heal the body. An in-house holistic nutritionist meets with the customer for one hour to discuss objectives and develop a personal, customized, and curated juice plan for 3 or 7 days. No charge for the consultation – the customer just pays for the product.
Another key element that makes Village Juicery unique, is their openness to sharing their everyday-fresh production and distribution capabilities with like-minded businesses. Tyler says, “Our mission is to increase access to these types of natural, organic foods – if we can do so by offering our products, or versions thereof through partners with common values, then we are very happy to do so in a format that works for their business.” Whether you’re ordering a glass of green recovery juice at Sunday brunch, or reaching for a nutritious breakfast jar at your local café, all these opportunities for healthier choices may well be enabled by Tyler and his team.
“We’ve had a great response in the city,” says Tyler, “and we are managing our growth carefully to ensure quality is not disrupted in any way.” There is a lot of potential for continued growth in the business, but Tyler and Omar staunchly refuse to make sacrifices or compromises to become something they don’t want to be. “The last thing we want to do is make food that looks and tastes like it comes out of a factory. So much of what we do hinges on a personalized customer experience and the love that goes into every unit.”
That’s not to say, of course, that the business is stagnating in any way. Quite the opposite, with upcoming launches at Nordstrom, The Chase Hospitality Group, and a location opening at Yorkdale Mall in November, to name a few. Their fresh and innovative offering has struck a chord with Torontonians. “We deliver product to our wholesale customers almost daily, stocking the shelves and ensuring the product is always at it’s best,” says Taylor. “We also provide coaching on how to manage products with a short shelf-life.”
With less than three years in production, Village Juicery has already made big waves in the community, and Tyler predicts that the fresh, organic market will continue to experience growth in the coming years. “We are very excited about what’s to come,” he says.
In the meantime, Tyler and Omar each balance their workloads with their growing family commitments. “It is important to both of us that we are home every day for dinner with our families.” Tyler has a two-year old daughter at home, with a son on the way, and Omar’s first child was born in July. “One of my proudest moments was seeing my daughter enjoy our Probiotic Breakfast Jar for the first time,” says Tyler. “At the end of the day, it’s about building a business and capability that we can be proud of, and doing something that benefits the community around us. If you’re passionate about organic, freshness, and quality, we can help make it happen.”
Interested in learning more about Village Juicery? Check them out online at www.villagejuicery.com.