Video: Lumi Stands By Self-Manufacturing

Lumi Juice broke new ground last month when it became the first cold-pressed juice brand to land shelf placement at The Fresh Market. But Hillary Lewis, Lumi’s founder and CEO, couldn’t rejoice for too long. The distribution deal, while high-five worthy, doesn’t mark the finish line.

An example of that is discussed in the video above, as Lewis says that she took a visit to Palo Alto, Calif., and found her juice in the back of the store, exactly where it shouldn’t be: naturally, she put the juices on the shelf. That’s just another task in the life of a pineapple-cutting, brand-endorsing, retailer-approaching entrepreneur.

“We’re in the store, that’s the first win,” she said, “and the next step is ensuring same-store sales and pull through.”

Lewis’ proclivity for considering the whole picture could also explain why she passed on co-packers and instead started her company with its own manufacturing facility in Charlottesville, Va. She said that, when launching the business, she couldn’t find any co-packers who could make both cold-pressed and high-pressure-processed (HPP) juice. And while she acknowledges the benefits of working with a co-packer, such as the ability to focus more on expanding distribution, she prefers the route she took. Lewis likes to have control over the quality and flavor of a final product.

Last month, she was concerned with the consistency and flavor of her mangos. She called DPI Specialty Foods, her distributor for Whole Foods and Fresh Direct, and said that she can’t send the product.

“If I had done that with a co-packer, I’m not certain that quality control would have had as much detail,” she said.

Lewis and two other full-time employees run Lumi’s sales and marketing operations. She has six-full time employees for manufacturing. With such a small staff, complications regularly arise. Take washing techniques, for example. The facility contains 20 gallon sinks that can be hard to use. But Lewis said that she has a vegetable washer on its way, which will relieve stress, along with a second cold-pressed juicer.

One of the primary criticisms concerning the cold-pressed juice category is its price point: not all mainstream consumers will spend $9 for a 16 oz. bottle of Lumi. But Lewis said she’s innovating to beat that barrier. At Expo East, Lumi sampled a new, 10 oz. bottle with a suggested retail price of $3.99 to $4.25. And in the video above, Lewis makes this purchasing comparison: a coffee and a danish from Starbucks, or a bottle of juice from Lumi?