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“That's why I'm sitting in LA right now, on my porch,” she says, “and the business is running without me.” What’s the secret to getting to this place?Sticking with it, she tells me, because success doesn’t happen overnight. I don't look back and wish I had done anything differently because I wouldn't be here today.And it all started with one simple glass of carrot juice. Ruth was returning from a seven year travelling stint, working her way through places like Israel, East Asia, and Australia while picking up skills and experiences.
To build the business that I have takes time.” When Ruth launched a business in the 90s, it was ahead of its time, and timing ended up being a huge factor in her success. Ramping into the millennium, plant based diets started to catch on, and inspire a rash of new vegetarian, vegan, and juice businesses trying to catch up with the trend.
Before the surge of interest, growing her business and winning over new customers relied on a soft approach.
"The trick was, as Barry always used to say, ‘Just get it in their mouths, and then we have a customer for life.’ The approach that we had, apart from having the confidence in the food or juice that we created, was the environment.
We really focused on upping our game and levelling the playing field between us and all the other great restaurants by offering service, presentation, music, and seating that was just as great as all the other restaurants in the city.” When Fresh launched their line of cold-pressed juices, it was the first time that they were producing a product that could be sold easily offsite.
Ruth Tal, against her parents wishes, quit high school to work full-time at her then part time retail job.
"Tell me I can't, and I'll just want to do it even more," she says.We didn't ask her to invest anything because we felt like just having her sign on to be a co-owner was good enough for us.” Jennifer completed the trifecta, and the strength of the partnership guided the business to expand to new locations, publish several cookbooks, and launch a line of cold-pressed juices.They focused on people and retention, building a strong team that has grown up with the business.Juice for Life, as it was called at its outset, was a one-woman outfit, a travelling juice bar that would pop up at music festivals, markets, and health conferences. And that was how I started my business.” In 1992, the business took the leap from mobile to stationary, with a permanent stall set up in the trendy and bustling Queen West Market. “I'd been doing my own books, but they were a mess."I had applied for an OSAP student loan—it was about ,000. Within very little time, she realized she was already outgrowing the space. I was trying to keep it together, but I started to realize I was in the weeds.That business is Fresh, a vegetarian restaurant empire with multiple locations in Ruth’s native Toronto, three locations in Moscow, and one in Mexico City.Fresh expanded its reach with a series of namesake cookbooks, gift cards, and cold-pressed juice cleanses, sold through a complementary ecommerce store.While waiting for the juice to be pressed, she was introduced to a community of health-minded people. ’” Committed to her vegan lifestyle, Ruth set out to share her new knowledge and sense of wellness with the world.The shop, ahead of the juicing trend, also stocked books on the medicinal benefits of juicing and plant-based diets. It was 1990 and she knew that, at the time, the concepts were “out there”.We started off with baby steps, and then, as the business grew and as our confidence in each other grew, it's become an amazing partnership.It’s probably the best thing I ever did.” Together, they opened the brand’s second location.