Words by Melissa Prieskorn // Images provided by Melissa P & Drought
ORGANIC | COLD-PRESSED | RAW JUICE
441 West Canfield Street, Detroit, MI 48201
On a cold and windy December afternoon, I ventured into one of Drought’s storefronts in Royal Oak, Michigan to chat with the lovely Jessie James. Four sisters: Jessie, Julie, Caitlin & Jenny James started an all raw, all organic, cold-pressed juicing company in 2010. Their passion to bring wellness and nourishment to America is contagious, and just only chatting for an hour I was bit by the Drought bug.
Where did the idea of ‘Drought’ come from?
Caitlin, Jenny and I used to live in New York City. In the area of the city where we were living we would frequently visit a juice bar near our gym. Each time we would go and buy juice we would say to one another, “Wow there is nothing like this back home!” And the idea of starting a juicing company came into existence.
The word Drought came from the idea of seeing Detroit, our hometown, and how there was a monumental shortage and zero accessibility for fresh raw juice. Once we shared the idea with our sister Julie, we created a bottle and a kick-starter for our idea. Once we gained some revenue from our kick-starter with the juice, we saw the vision of Drought really becoming a reality.
Out of all the cities in the United States to start a juicing company, why Detroit?
When we started the company we realized that Detroit was making this extraordinary comeback. And what was really attractive to us realistically was that it was affordable and attainable to start a business in the Detroit metro area. Detroit is a place where you can do a lot with a little, and that is where true gems are born.
"There is not a lot of security in taking risks, but you just have to work hard for what you want."
How would you describe the community you and the sisters have created since starting Drought?
We found that in most juice companies they had marketed themselves towards to a certain genre of people. Our main goal was to aim high and be different. What we wanted to be known for is a clean, non-absolutist product. To market ourselves as a healing good to all people and all ages, gaining the highest of abundance from pure simplicity.
Our community is one that is accepting and loving, but also never overlooking the details of our product. Drought is not just a name but something that is incredibly valuable to us, and I believe our customers do see that. They know every time they come into our store to purchase a juice, that individual bottle was created just for them.
Has there been any rough roadblocks or dead ends you as a company have had to deal with since starting Drought?
All the sisters were very willing to put in the work that was needed to start this business so that was never a problem, however money was an issue. We had to get creative with how we did things. When there were bumps in the road we had to use fewer resources and come up with frugal solutions until we were able to wrap our hands around working capital. Also, having a raw product sold in all grocery stores has been its own controversial issue with the state of Michigan. Nevertheless, every time we hit a roadblock we swerved to the right and really worked through those tough times.
How has your life changed since starting Drought?
While Caitlin, Jenny and I were living in New York and making a good living in the city, we really never had full control of our lives and our passions. I feel like we were seeking and craving a new challenge. It was a challenge that was attainable & that we could be taking advantage of elsewhere. We were at a point where it was time to take control and create our own destiny. There is not a lot of security in taking risks, but you just have to work hard for what you want.
How has Drought used this mentality within the company?
We as entrepreneurs are always encouraging our kitchen staff & retail employees to create their own destiny. We support one another by being a launch pad to create something even greater. Placing each stepping stone, one in front of the other and moving on from there.
What sets Drought apart from many small businesses is the fact that four sisters started the company. Could you explain how working together has been since Drought was born?
Some people think, “No way could I ever work alongside my family!” And believe me, we were not always this close. We all had our own lives we were living before Drought. Our paths just ended up crossing again at a certain point in our lives and it has been a great opportunity for family growth.
It has not always been easy, but it is not as difficult of a business venture as some people might think. If we disagree, we always communicate and talk it out because we know we have a responsibility to Drought. At the end of the day we know there is work to be done.
What would be an encouraging word to someone who is interested in starting a small business?
Swallow your pride and don’t worry about what other people think. Work hard! And what I am talking about is working beyond the normal definition of “work.” The work I mean is not the 9 to 5 and having weekends to yourself. As an entrepreneur, I’ve come to find that weekends and a 9 to 5 workday is non-existent. Personally and professionally, life will become much more richer once you embrace the mentality that it’s not just a job, but a lifestyle.
Are there any big goals or aspirations in the near future for Drought?
We definitely have big dreams for expansion not only nationally, but internationally. Another big goal for us is to start an HPP line and getting into stores and being more accessible to people. Our thoughts for Drought our endless, but we have to make sure we are keeping the integrity of our premium line in tact. Not succumbing to having something cheaper and faster just for the sake of advancement.
Last, fun question…Where would be your next adventure or ideal dream vacation?
Well, I would really love to go visit Europe in general because I have never been outside the country besides Canada. I do have a passport and for me that’s the first step!
Just four years prior these sisters started with one raw recipe called a vision. By adding many scoops of hard work, a sprinkle of creativity, and a pinch of hope, a movement was created and Drought was the first all raw, all organic, cold-pressed juicing company in the state of Michigan.
“This has been a hard journey, but it truly has been the most rewarding voyage I’ve ever been privileged to be on.” –Jessie James
Photo Credit & Resources: Droughtjuice.com