By Anita Brook
Squeeze Me produces fresh fruit blendies, smoothies, juices, teas, coffees and more. Here’s the story of how the owners took their products from market stall to the shelves of major retailers.
Like all good stories (or some good stories, at least) this one begins with adventurous characters, raw ambition and, um, the quest for pure, fresh fruit...
In 2005, Jules (founder Juliet Little) returned from a period of travelling and, though glad to be back in the UK, was craving the fresh fruit smoothies she practically lived on in Oz and South Africa.
Unhappy with any of the products she found in the supermarket, Jules decided to bring proper smoothies to the masses and opened a small juice bar on Northcote Road, Battersea.
Pretty soon the store was flooded with happy customers but Jules was increasingly pressed for time as she spent most of her time pressing (and blending) fruit.
To save time (and bother) Jules spent her evenings packing fruit into individual bags and storing them in her freezer.
The next day she'd use them to create the smoothies people kept coming back for, only without the fuss or mess.
With demand increasing all the time, Jules realised that if she sold the frozen fruit packs, with their perfectly tried and tested quantities of fruit, and just instructed people to add juice, she could relax a little, and her customers could make their own smoothies at home.
Pretty soon all sorts of people wanted a piece of the frozen-fruit action, from gym cafes to hotels to local companies and so the ‘Blendie’ was born.
Now Jules was never one to shy away from a little hard work, and getting in front of the supermarket buyers can be a tricky business. A phone call to the buyer just wasn’t going to cut the mustard. Instead, Jules armed herself with her product, her blenders and her smoothie cups and hit the street.
Popping into every Waitrose in London, Jules asked each manager if they would be so kind as to look at her product, allow her to blend some smoothies for their staff and, if they thought their customers would like it, e-mail the buyer on her behalf.
Those lovely managers loved the product and duly popped over an e-mail to the frozen buyer at Waitrose. When Jules still hadn’t heard a peep, she asked them all to send one last e-mail and bobs your uncle, the phone rang. She fell off her chair, did a cartwheel and the product was soon listed in 5 stores and eventually 50. Ocado followed and finally, Squeeze Me had their proudest moment.
Around this time, Jules partnered up with me, Anita Brook, an ACCA Certified Chartered Accountant and owner of two other established businesses. Then in March 2010 when Jules became a mum and moved to Guernsey, I took the reigns and we continued to grow the business in all sorts of exciting directions, including loose leaf teas (Teas Me) and fresh ground coffee (Grind Me) — all ethically sourced.
And as with any great story, this is only the beginning.
Find out more at http://www.squeezemejuice.co.uk