Our blog series “5 Questions With…” takes a behind-the-scenes look into the daily lives of our small business customers. Read through this ‘delicious’ next entry below!
Name: Chris Roberts
Company: The Juice Cellar
Location: Belfast/Bangor, Maine
Products/Services: Raw juices, smoothies, and plant-based food
Years in Business: 3 Years
1. Tell us about a day in the life of Chris Roberts.
A day in my life is always different, but always the same. I get woken up by my three dogs around 4:30am and then I drive 45 minutes to work. When I get there I start making the donuts and try to figure out what flavors to make, be it blueberry/basil, carrot cake, chocolate/tahini… always gluten free & vegan. Then it’s off to do the shopping for little things we’ll need for the day and light paperwork before getting back to the shop.
I make sure my staff is happy before anything, because if they are happy, they’ll make my customers happy. So if they need me to do dishes, clean the bathroom, or prep food so they can take care of customers, I’ll do that. Rarely do I actually take a 15 minute break during a 12 hour day, heading back home around 5pm. Sometimes I fit in sales meetings or personal appointments, but my day is always different, but it’s the same in that aspect of always changing.
2. What is the most rewarding aspect of being a small business owner? Most difficult?
The most rewarding thing is seeing my customers going through physical and mental transformations through eating the food that we prepare. To hear of a woman whose husband was diagnosed with a Stage 4 Glioma, given just weeks to live and turning it around through food to give him an additional 6 months before he passed away…that’s 6 months he wasn’t given by doctors. My customer is confident that it was moving her late-husband to a plant-based diet during his final time that gave her the opportunity to show him how much she loved him for that much longer. It’s incredibly powerful. I want to help my customers eat well and live long, healthy lives, and use my family’s knowledge of food in the process.
The most difficult: I’m in a tight niche – a vegan café – in a city of just 40,000 people, and working capital can be an issue, as it was when I started the business.
3. Why did you originally need financing?
I was forced to open over 100 days late because of battles with my landlord and contractor. By the time I opened, I needed to invest in growth capital to provide a nice spark for my business, and do so quickly.
4. How has additional capital helped your business grow? Tell us about your experience.
OnDeck gave me the ability to purchase advertising on our area’s largest radio stations, creating an immediate impact on sales. We run the ads right before lunchtime, and have seen at least a 12% jump in new sales! I have a line of credit to draw on when I need it, as well as the ability to purchase a couple of small pieces of equipment to get us started making sandwiches. I think that with doing sandwiches, it will be a key part to growing the business. OnDeck’s financing allowed me to purchase what I needed to make it happen, along with the advertising I want to help promote it.
5. If you were just starting out again, what would you tell yourself about running a small business?
Having sufficient capital at the onset of a big project, expansion, or a new location is so incredibly important. I would have researched small business financing sources like OnDeck much sooner during the construction phase or earlier.
BONUS: Vegan and raw foods are increasingly becoming more popular. What is it about the clean-eating lifestyle do you think will have a lasting impact?
Well… there’s so much! I feel that eating clean and mostly eating plants leads to a wealth of physical and mental benefits. I lost 70 pounds and cleared myself of migraine headaches and more just from eating a primarily plant-based diet. My life completely changed due to the foods I put into my body. While I believe that eating mainly plants for ethical reasons is important, I don’t come at it from that standpoint, as I am a firm believer in the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet.
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Photo of Chris Roberts courtesy of Alexandra Roberts/Alexandra Roberts Photography.