(Photo: Courtesy Caitlin James; illustration: Jessica De Jesus)

For This Mixologist, Juicing Is at the Heart of Happiness

Caitlin James is being honored by In Her Company, a campaign celebrating the power, creativity, and impact of 30 inspiring women entrepreneurs.
Dec 11, 2014· 2 MIN READ
TakePart Staff

Inspired in 2010 to open a better raw juice bar, Caitlin James teamed up with her sisters to create Drought. Not only does her business blend healthy organic juices for loyal devotees, but she’s also found a way to bring her positivity, healthy lifestyle, and sustainability goals to her career.

HQ: Ferndale, Mich.
Industry: Beverage
Founded: 2010

Drought is a subculture of healthful living created by four sisters who are masters of extracting abundance from simplicity. The idea evolved from a collective longing for accessible, fresh raw juice—the need for a permanent oasis to rehydrate and revitalize.

TakePart: How did you come up with the idea for your business? Was there a turning point that convinced you to start your own business?

Caitlin James: While I was in college studying special education, I worked with children and young adults with developmental disabilities and autism. Most of my students were on special diets—vegan, gluten-free, organic—and we would have naturopathic doctors teach us the importance of providing the kids with healthier snacks and how their food affected behavior and mood. Sugary beverages were on the do-not-drink list, so we started juicing. I ended up carrying that over into my personal life and found the benefits to be pretty significant.

I moved to New York City to go to graduate school in fall 2010 and was living with one of my sisters, Jessie, who was working as a stylist. We would frequent juice bars and wait in long lines—on one particular day we waited for almost half an hour and convinced each other we could open a juice bar and do it better! The idea stuck, and my sisters and I took it from there.

TakePart: What excites or inspires you? What do you care about?

James: I care about things that I know propel everyone in forward motion: eating well, exercising, family, relaxing. To be able to mesh all of these things into a business format is even more exciting. Before owning a business, I was turned off by the widespread complaining about “work” and “career” and how some combination of those always resulted in bad attitudes and general negativity. I’ve always loved working, and once I figured out that I can make things like daily runs, gratitude circles, and juicing a staple in my day, my love for business blossomed.

TakePart: Who are your customers, and how do you engage and reach them?

James: Our customer is anyone who wants more fruits and vegetables! We avoid gimmicks and subliminal messages that raw juice is exclusively for skinny young women. Our business has grown solely through word of mouth—we have a superpremium, quality product, and it speaks for itself. We collaborate with other like-minded businesses for local events, engage on social media, and are very hands-on with the business.

TakePart: What’s one thing you wish someone had told you about your first year in business?

James: Well, oddly enough, there’s plenty of advice out there for new business owners. I think it’s important to remember your personal priorities and goals and ignore frivolous “You know what you should do…” opinions. You have to have a razor-sharp focus on your business and where you want it to go—otherwise all of the advice that other people pepper into your psyche will ruin your drive. Find a mentor that you trust and ask lots of questions.

TakePart: What’s the best mistake you ever made?

James: I suppose our first great mistake was launching a Kickstarter campaign before fully understanding regulatory issues surrounding raw juice. We raised $13,000 in one month and then had to take a year figuring out how to legally carry out our plan. The great thing is, we garnered a lot of public attention and community support from Kickstarter, and once the product was ready and the business launched, the marketing had already been done.

(Photo: Aaron Jones)

TakePart: Why is sustainability important to you? How do you incorporate sustainability into your product and business practice?

James: The one cornerstone to our business is eliminating inefficient and antiquated systems. Organics, glass, composting, recycling, zero waste—all of those factors are imperative for a company in our industry sector. We are seeking a way to turn all “waste” products into secondary products—all great things come from fruits and vegetables, and we have the real deal in our kitchen. We currently purchase and process nearly 5,000 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis, so even as a small business, we have huge buying power. Juice is an everyday purchase, and we could do some serious damage if we skimped on the quality of raw materials we use.

This post is part of the series In Her Company, created in collaboration with Eileen Fisher and designed to celebrate the power, creativity, and impact of women-owned businesses. Check out more stories at takepart.com/in-her-company.