Leslie Zinn, Arden's Garden
Leslie Zinn is the co-founder and CEO of Arden's Garden — a cold-pressed juice, smoothie, and vegan foods company on a mission to cultivate an oasis of health and wellness. Arden's Garden started in Leslie's mother Arden's kitchen in the early 90s. Twenty-five years later, Arden’s Garden has two processing plants in East Point, Georgia; 17 retail store locations throughout Metro Atlanta; and more than 1,000 partners in the Southeast region.
Episode 18 – Leslie Zinn, Arden's Garden
[00:00:53] Sanjay Parekh: Leslie Zinn is the co-founder and CEO of Arden's Garden — a cold pressed juice, smoothie, and vegan foods company on a mission to cultivate an oasis of health and wellness. Arden's Garden started in Leslie's mother (Arden's) kitchen in the early 90s.
25 years later, Arden’s Garden offers cold-pressed juices, made-to-order smoothies, juice shots, and a variety of plant-based snacks and salads. They have two production facilities in East Point, Georgia, 17 retail store locations throughout Metro Atlanta, and more than 1,000 partners in the Southeast region.
Leslie, welcome to the Side Hustle to Small Business Podcast!
[00:01:36] Leslie Zinn: Thanks Sanjay, glad to be here.
[00:01:38] Sanjay Parekh: So, I gotta start off from the get go and make sure that our listeners realize this and understand this, that you're not really a side hustle or small business anymore. You've become a much larger thing. But we'll get to that in a minute. I'd love for you to tell us a little bit about your background and your history.
[00:01:55] Leslie Zinn: Oh, well, how far do you want me to go? So, I grew up here in Atlanta. I attended Georgia Tech and after
[00:02:02] Sanjay Parekh: Go Jackets.
[00:02:03] Leslie Zinn: Yeah, baby. After graduating, I got a job in a marketing company and after about a year I was getting paid really well, but wasn't super proud of what I was doing. So, I said I want to do something that helps people feel better. So, I thought, oh, med school. Perfect. So, I went back to Georgia Tech took a bunch more sciences took my MCAT, started interviewing, and at the same time, my mother was making juices in her kitchen.
And so, as Arden's Garden, as it came to be known later, started growing. I was helping her on the side and, I didn't like the interview process for med schools. I'm not really great in a hierarchical situation, being told what to do. And so, I thought, well, if I joined my mom, I can help people be healthy and I can feel good about what I'm doing or I could go to med school and have 10 years of a challenging environment. So, I chose to join my mom.
[00:03:02] Sanjay Parekh: So that's fascinating. So Arden's Garden is a vegan company. Were you vegan this whole time or did you become vegan because of the company? Like how did that happen?
[00:03:11] Leslie Zinn: I was definitely not vegan when I started. I switched being — we prefer to call it plant based because vegan can be, like Oreos are vegan. So, we don't really espouse consumption of, you know, things that make you unhealthy. But I became vegan in 2011, but it's been a journey for me. I was definitely a junk food vegan in the beginning. And over time I learned more about what was important for me to be putting in my body and we kind of changed our diet, and along the way changed the offerings that we began producing at Arden's Garden.
[00:03:47] Sanjay Parekh: Okay. So, let's start talking about the early, early days, the beginning. Like what inspired your mom to get a juicer and start doing this?
[00:03:58] Leslie Zinn: Yeah. So, my mom has been the biggest health nut all my life. Way before people were drinking healthy drinks or eating healthy food, my mother was super into health. So, I'm talking about the ‘60s and ‘70s. She was making the most disgusting combinations for my brother and I. And basically, that was breakfast for us. So, she learned about this juicer back in 1963, called a Norwalk that she wanted to buy, but it cost $1,500 and she couldn't afford it.
So she said, someday. Fast forward 30 years, she still wants this Norwalk only, now it's $2,200. She still cannot afford it. And she says, I don't want to go my whole life without this juicer. So, she does the all American thing. She gets out her credit card. She buys the juicer and to make herself feel better. She calls all her friends and says, ‘I have this amazing juicer. I want to use it. So, if you guys want juice, I want to make it for you.’ And that's how Arden's Garden began.
[00:05:02] Sanjay Parekh: Okay. So it started with just making juice for friends?
[00:05:07] Leslie Zinn: Yeah.
[00:05:07] Sanjay Parekh: And they were paying for it?
[00:05:09] Leslie Zinn: For free.
[00:05:10] Sanjay Parekh: Okay.
[00:05:11] Leslie Zinn: Making juice for friends for free.
[00:05:14] Sanjay Parekh: So that doesn't really help pay down the credit card bill of what this was. So how did she get to the point of figuring out how to do that?
[00:05:23] Leslie Zinn: So, what happened is a health food store opened in her neighborhood and they heard about her, and they said, ‘Hey, we will give you the produce. You make the juice. We will sell it and we'll split the sales.’ And my mother thought, my goodness, this is a home run. I am buying the produce and giving the juice away. You're going to provide the produce and we are going to split the sales. She was all in, but she quickly realized that this Norwalk is a home cold press. It's extremely labor intensive.
So, she went and called my brother and I to come help because we were free labor. So that's how it began.
[00:06:01] Sanjay Parekh: Okay. So, so it was the three of you then?
[00:06:04] Leslie Zinn: Yes.
[00:06:04] Sanjay Parekh: Working on this one machine?
[00:06:07] Leslie Zinn: Yes.
[00:06:07] Sanjay Parekh: And then what happened? So, you started selling to this health food store, but then there were other people then that started lining up as well.
[00:06:15] Leslie Zinn: Well, what happened was, the first thing was, my brother took one look at that juicer, and he said, also a tech grad, by the way. He said, mom, there is no business on this machine. I will buy a real cold press, a commercial cold press, but I want to be CEO. And my mother said, be whatever you want to be.
And so, he bought a real juicer and we started operating with that juicer. However, this is 1994. Nobody is juicing. We are bottling in Mason jars. We're writing the names of the juices on top of the jars. You know, nobody's getting paid essentially. My mom was getting a pittance, but my brother and I definitely weren't.
So as a last-ditch effort, we said to our mom, Hey mom, go into Buckhead where people have money, disposable income, and try and sell this juice. And we were thinking like lawyer's offices or stock brokerage houses, but my mother doesn't think like normal people. And so, she went to hair salons. And that decision literally turned our entire business around, because hair stylists always want things that are new and trendy.
They always have cash from tips. They are stuck in their stations and they always have a new customer in their chair. So overnight, I would say in less than three weeks, my mother was selling three times the amount outside of that health food store as we were. And so, we quickly outgrew that situation. My brother was living in Virginia Highlands.
There was an Old Little Caesar's Pizza that had been open for, meaning open as in not rented, available for rent, for nine months. We looked at the space, we met the landlord and he told us it was $2,500. And for us, that, that was like a million dollars. We were paying nothing right at the health food store.
We were terrified, right? And so, he said, listen. He was desperate. He had not had any rent for nine months. So, he said, ‘I will give you a 30 day out and no security deposit.’
[00:08:30] Sanjay Parekh: Wow.
[00:08:30] Leslie Zinn: And 27 years later, we have the same lease. We have the same location. I mean, we've grown, but that's where we started. We moved all of our machinery into a retail space. I do not recommend that. You don't have floor drains and ways to wash things down. But we were in that space and so we had three guys going to four locations. Like we had four routes of hair salons that my mom and these three guys were going to.
And one day we said, ‘Hey, let's go to the Kroger down at Ansley Mall and see if they want to buy this juice.’ And so we got in the car, we drove down to that Kroger. We asked for the manager, it was a guy named Russ Ross and he came out and saw us and we said, ‘Hey, we're making juice down the street. Would you be willing to sell it here?’
And at the time Kroger was super decentralized and he said, ‘Well, let me see your operation.’ And he literally walked out into the parking lot, got in his car, followed us down the street to our location, saw us juicing there. And he said, ‘If you give me a cooler, I'll put it in my store.’ And overnight, literally that store was the number one Kroger in Atlanta in 1995. And we began producing juice 24 hours a day, seven days a week out of our retail location on Monroe Drive.
[00:09:55] Sanjay Parekh: So, okay. I’ve got to ask, because I think the statute of limitations is expired on this. Were you like actually complying with all the health stuff especially when you were doing the Mason jars? The Mason jars and everything.
[00:10:05] Leslie Zinn: Oh, the Mason jars.
[00:10:06] Sanjay Parekh: Okay.
[00:10:06] Leslie Zinn: No, we at, by the time we moved to Monroe, though, we had moved on to, everything was Department of Ag certified, yes.
[00:10:15] Sanjay Parekh: But before that it was.
[00:10:17] Leslie Zinn: Well, we were only selling in the beginning in that health food store. So. It was a little more lax.
[00:10:24] Sanjay Parekh: It was more on them then than on you guys.
[00:10:27] Leslie Zinn: Yeah.
[00:10:27] Sanjay Parekh: Okay.
[00:10:27] Leslie Zinn: Yeah.
[00:10:29] Sanjay Parekh: So, this Kroger, do they still stock Arden's Garden?
[00:10:32] Leslie Zinn: They do.
[00:10:33] Sanjay Parekh: Do they? Okay. And you still have that original, the first storefront?
[00:10:36] Leslie Zinn: We do. So, what happened.
[00:10:38] Sanjay Parekh: That's amazing.
[00:10:39] Leslie Zinn: By 1996, we absolutely had to find a production facility because you cannot juice. It's just too hard.
[00:10:47] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah.
[00:10:47] Leslie Zinn: So, but by the time we moved out of that store, we had enough people in the neighborhood that were jazzed about seeing a bunch of numb nuts, running around juicing that they would come and get their juice from the store. So, we never had any intention of having retail stores. It just was an organic development.
So, we kept the store because we were selling quite a bit of product. And that decision was incredible for our growth because it kept us really close to our customers. And we've seen trends before they've become trends. We get direct feedback, like when people make smoothies to order and they ask for certain things over and over, you know, like this is something that people are really wanting. So, it's been almost like a laboratory with direct feedback right away. So, it's been great.
[00:11:37] Sanjay Parekh: So, you've got now I think we said 17 locations, is that the right number?
[00:11:41] Leslie Zinn: We're at 16 right now. We're opening one more.
[00:11:57] Sanjay Parekh: Okay. So that's a little bit hard to kind of manage. It's not like you can get to all 17 in the same day. So how do you get all that feedback that's coming back from all those places that find out the new stuff that's happening?
[00:12:10] Leslie Zinn: It's aggregated. I mean, we have manager meetings. So, what will happen, let's say we come up with a new juice. Okay? We put it in our retail stores, and we will know whether it's a hit or it's not a hit very quickly.
We don't have to do a whole lot of market research and testing. We can, and also reverse, you know, when people start asking for things. You know, like what is it that the customers are asking for that we are not providing? And then it goes in reverse. So, let's say, celery juice, right? Yeah. We were making celery juice since the beginning, but we weren't making it by itself.
We made it with cucumbers, spinach, and kale. So, then all of a sudden people wanted just celery juice. Right? So, then it became, went in reverse.
[00:12:47] Sanjay Parekh: Okay. That's super interesting. And man, I had so much questions about that. But I want to step back a little bit. Okay. So the company starts. It's you, your brother, and your mom. You start growing. At what point? Like at some point in here you start getting paid, your brother starts getting paid, you're actually full-time employees. Now you're the CEO as well.
[00:13:11] Leslie Zinn: Yeah.
[00:13:11] Sanjay Parekh: Your brother is not involved in the business anymore?
[00:13:14] Leslie Zinn: He is not. He left in 1999.
[00:13:17] Sanjay Parekh: Okay. So, he was with the company and then you decided like, yeah, I'm going to stay on and kind of be full time here.
And you know, like, what was your decision at that point of like, you've really only worked for a year for anybody else? Like your entire career basically has been working for yourself or
[00:13:36] Leslie Zinn: Right.
[00:13:37] Sanjay Parekh: Working in the family. Right?
[00:13:38] Leslie Zinn: Right.
[00:13:39] Sanjay Parekh: And you know, like how did you think about that? And has it ever kind of come across to you of like, man, should I do something else? Do something differently? Or is like, is this really, this is it?
[00:13:50] Leslie Zinn: This is it. Never. When you're in the right situation.
[00:13:55] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah.
[00:13:55] Leslie Zinn: You know it. I mean, I have never not liked coming to work. Everything, not everything. I don't want to say everything. I don't love managing people. But I love the health industry. I absolutely adore having an impact on my community. I love it that we have retail stores where I see the customers. In our old plant, my office was literally right off the store. I could hear every single person that came in. And the stories that you hear and the transformations that happen and people that go on a health journey.
It's just incredible. So, all the things that I was missing in that one year job of having an impact on people's lives, I found here. You know, and I get to, and it's just such a passion of mine. I mean, I always looked at my mom cross eyed. I thought she was like really health, I mean, she was really crazed with it and I have become her.
I have absolutely become her and, you know, I see how hard it is to be healthy in today's environment. It's tough.
[00:14:59] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah.
[00:14:59] Leslie Zinn: You know, we are just surrounded by white processed foods.
[00:15:03] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah.
[00:15:03] Leslie Zinn: So, my goal is to make it convenient for people to be healthy.
[00:15:10] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah.
[00:15:11] Leslie Zinn: Yeah, go ahead.
[00:15:12] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. So, you know, in this journey, when did you think about, or did you think about and realize like, yeah, we made it. Or we're going to make, like, there's not a worry anymore. When you had that first retail location and spending $2,500 a month, you were like, I don't know if this is going to work.
Right? At what point did it, did you realize, or did your mom realize, or your brother, like all three of you together, realize like, yeah, we're going to be okay. Was there like an amount of revenue? Or was it the feedback that you were getting or the amount of people that you were employing?
What was it that kind of made you think that this is no longer a side hustle? That this is a business and we're going to be fine?
[00:15:58] Leslie Zinn: Well.
[00:15:58] Sanjay Parekh: Or do you not think that? Or do you still not think that you're going to be fine?
[00:16:01] Leslie Zinn: It's like, well, if you had spoken to me six weeks ago, I would've given you a different answer.
I would say in 2014, juice became the ‘it’ thing.
[00:16:14] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah.
[00:16:14] Leslie Zinn: Right. And so, all the things that had been a struggle became super easy. You know, we were already perfectly placed. I think in the first 19 years of our operation, we opened seven stores. And in the 20th year we opened seven stores.
[00:16:31] Sanjay Parekh: Wow.
[00:16:32] Leslie Zinn: You know, so we had this, and it was just bam bam bam. So that is probably when I really was like, [exhales] but you know, the bigger you get, the harder you can fall.
[00:16:47] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah.
[00:16:47] Leslie Zinn: You know?
[00:16:49] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. So, is that the big worry for you nowadays? Is it, what's going to happen next? Cause you talked about something happened six weeks ago. I mean, we're all dealing with kind of this pandemic and the economy and all of these things and you guys are, I would consider a premium product. It's a higher end product. So, you're exposed to some of those issues. Like, do you worry about all of that stuff now more?
[00:17:15] Leslie Zinn: I don't worry about, so the pandemic has been very good for us.
[00:17:19] Sanjay Parekh: Okay.
[00:17:20] Leslie Zinn: And actually, like when the '08 recession took place, it was very good for us because when people have less money, they tend to advocate more for themselves.
[00:17:29] Sanjay Parekh: Okay.
[00:17:30] Leslie Zinn: In terms of health. Okay? So, it's a lot less expensive to buy a $4 juice than it is to pay for a hundred-thousand-dollar heart attack.
[00:17:42] Sanjay Parekh: That's definitely true. Yeah.
[00:17:44] Leslie Zinn: So, people start becoming very invested, especially in the pandemic, we saw a huge amount of demand. Huge.
[00:17:53] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah.
[00:17:53] Leslie Zinn: So, we grew a lot, you know?
[00:17:56] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah.
[00:17:56] Leslie Zinn: And as you grow, you're trying to ramp up and, you know, with, I would say the scariest part right now are, well, two things. Everyone says the same thing, but I'm going to reiterate, it's supply chain and employees.
[00:18:08] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah.
[00:18:08] Leslie Zinn: Although I see a little bit of easing in the employees, it seems a little bit better.
[00:18:14] Adam Walker: Support for this podcast comes from Hiscox. Committed to helping small businesses protect their dreams since 1901. Quotes and information on customized insurance for specific risks are available at Hiscox.com. Hiscox, the business insurance experts.
[00:18:35] Sanjay Parekh: Let's talk about your employees a little bit because I think you do a fascinating thing. I'm fortunate to have come down to your facility and seen it and it's phenomenal. But you have to distribute so much. But you really like turned it over to the employees. Talk to us about like how did you decide this and the scheduling and the shifts and how all of that works at Arden's Garden?
[00:18:58] Leslie Zinn: Well, the employees, so many of my employees luckily have been with me for a long time. So, they've grown right along with us. And they are, they know how to do their jobs better than I know how to do their job. And so, they've been instrumental in determining, you know, how we will grow, how we just added a huge thing to our repertoire.
I don't want to get really boring or anything, but there's a machine called an HPP machine, which is high pressure processing. And it's a new technology probably in the last 10 to 15 years, where you can use pressure to kill bacteria. And it was something that we were using a third party for the last three years and we just brought it in-house.
So, it's just going to be enormous for us. So, we are in the process of having our team decide, you know, how we are going to staff it, how we are going to schedule it, add it to the entire production process. So, it's definitely been a team effort.
[00:20:06] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. And remind me, I think this is correct. But your folks work on a, isn't it a four-day week?
[00:20:14] Leslie Zinn: They, okay. Well, in a good week they work four days, 10 hours.
[00:20:20] Sanjay Parekh: Four days, 10 hours. Yeah.
[00:20:20] Leslie Zinn: Yes. When we are very busy, they are working more. So, it's been up and down in this.
[00:20:27] Sanjay Parekh: Okay.
[00:20:27] Leslie Zinn: Lately it's been, we try to keep it to four days. That's what they wanted. When we moved to the second plant, they wanted to move to work longer shifts shorter days. And we were like, no problem.
[00:20:32] Sanjay Parekh: And you feel like that has added—I think we talked about this before, but you feel like that has added employee satisfaction?
[00:20:43] Leslie Zinn: Oh, for sure.
[00:20:46] Sanjay Parekh: And help with your churn and all of those things?
[00:20:48] Leslie Zinn: Definitely. Definitely.
[00:20:50] Sanjay Parekh: I mean, obviously you're in a business that remote work isn't a thing.
[00:20:51] Leslie Zinn: No.
[00:20:53] Sanjay Parekh: Because you can't run the machines from home. So, you’ve got to be there. And so, this might be the closest thing that you could get to that and let people have more of their lives back.
[00:21:04] Leslie Zinn: Definitely.
[00:21:05] Sanjay Parekh: Is there anything else that, that y'all do as a health company? Is there anything else that y'all do to think about employee health and satisfaction?
[00:21:12] Leslie Zinn: Yeah, so we make a product, it's one of our most popular products, called the grand slam. So, it's a shot of wheatgrass, ginger, lemon, and cranberry. Every employee gets a free grand slam, every shift that they work. All the employees get half price on all of our products.
We also really encourage health and wellness. So, we have partnerships with yoga studios so that they can attend yoga for half price. Our company will pay half, they will pay half. So yeah, there's a whole bunch of initiatives to help people be healthy.
[00:21:44] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah, I love that. I love that. Okay. So, let's talk about the future a little bit.
[00:21:49] Leslie Zinn: Okay.
[00:21:49] Sanjay Parekh: Right now, you've got 17 retail locations all in the Metro Atlanta area.
[00:21:53] Leslie Zinn: Yes.
[00:21:54] Sanjay Parekh: You distribute all throughout the Southeast.
[00:21:56] Leslie Zinn: Correct.
[00:21:58] Sanjay Parekh: What happens next? Is it, is that it? Or is there growth beyond that?
[00:22:02] Leslie Zinn: There's definitely growth beyond that. So on Friday we were notified that we will be selling in Costco.
[00:22:11] Sanjay Parekh: That's big news. That's awesome.
[00:22:13] Leslie Zinn: Yep. We're very excited about that. So that will be starting in August. So that's a big step forward. We also recently partnered with Walmart. So, we're actually, outside of the six states, but not with a huge footprint just yet. But we are working on having that grow.
We have aspirations to move up the Eastern seaboard. And we also would like to grow our retail stores as well.
[00:22:43] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah.
[00:22:43] Leslie Zinn: Our next retail store is going to be in a very underserved area, Old National Highway.
[00:22:50] Sanjay Parekh: Okay.
[00:22:50] Leslie Zinn: So, this fits right along with our mission to go to food deserts and provide healthy offerings. So, stay tuned for that.
[00:23:00] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah, that's awesome. So the Walmart and Costco relationships, that's going to be nationwide?
[00:23:06] Leslie Zinn: We're starting in the Southeast with Costco.
[00:23:09] Sanjay Parekh: Okay.
[00:23:09] Leslie Zinn: So, we started, I don't think that Walmart is exactly, they basically have DCs in various states and you can pick and choose where you're able to service.
[00:23:21] Sanjay Parekh: Okay.
[00:23:22] Leslie Zinn: But we have grown with them. We're not nationwide. We have a perishability issue and also, shipping is so expensive right now.
[00:23:30] Sanjay Parekh: Yep.
[00:23:30] Leslie Zinn: So.
[00:23:31] Sanjay Parekh: So, you're going to grow over time with both of those?
[00:23:34] Leslie Zinn: I hope so.
[00:23:34] Sanjay Parekh: But really to get to the point of expanding. If you're going up the Eastern seaboard, then you're going to have to have another production facility, right? Because of the perishability issues there that you've got?
[00:23:45] Leslie Zinn: We have quite a way we can grow before we'll be opening a new facility. Yeah.
[00:23:49] Sanjay Parekh: Oh, that's awesome.
[00:23:50] Leslie Zinn: Yeah.
[00:23:50] Sanjay Parekh: That's awesome. Well, I love the facility that you're in now. It's so massive. It's just so impressive.
[00:23:55] Leslie Zinn: Yeah.
[00:23:55] Sanjay Parekh: Okay. Let's turn to kind of thinking about the business and advice for other entrepreneurs. You know, you've seen this business now grow and you've been in this business since the beginning, basically. What has kind of changed for you and what kind of tools and kind of processes have you implemented over time that have helped you manage the business and scale the business? And what do you have now that you couldn't do without?
[00:24:23] Leslie Zinn: Okay. So, I think that I'll tell you, maybe it's easier to answer what I think some of my pitfalls have been.
[00:24:29] Sanjay Parekh: Sure, yeah. Yeah. Let's, we'll talk about that.
[00:24:32] Leslie Zinn: Yeah, so I think that we grew very organically rather than intentionally.
[00:24:39] Sanjay Parekh: Okay.
[00:24:39] Leslie Zinn: And the way I like to describe it is that we were like a 1400 square foot craftsman that grew into a McMansion, and we didn't quite have the foundations in place to support the growth. So, what we've had to go back and do is to understand that we need to have better processes and procedures in place. I know this kind sounds kind of boring, but it has really helped us to go back and do job descriptions and have accountabilities and do KPIs. You know, I'm sort of a figure-it-out type person, but.
[00:25:15] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah.
[00:25:16] Leslie Zinn: Most people are not figure-it-out type people.
[00:25:18] Sanjay Parekh: Right.
[00:25:19] Leslie Zinn: And so, you know, when you put people who are not figure-it-out type people in situations where they don't have great guardrails, right? So, we've had to go back in and not just be like, oh, great, look at all these sales, you know, because in the long run it can't support itself.
[00:25:38] Sanjay Parekh: Right.
[00:25:38] Leslie Zinn: That was a big pitfall for me that I've had to go back and take a second look at. Yeah.
[00:25:40] Sanjay Parekh: And I think that's very classic entrepreneur. Right?
[00:25:43] Leslie Zinn: Right.
[00:25:47] Sanjay Parekh: Like, we just figure it out.
[00:25:49] Leslie Zinn: Right.
[00:25:49] Sanjay Parekh: You just do things.
[00:25:50] Leslie Zinn: Right.
[00:25:51] Sanjay Parekh: And things will happen.
[00:25:52] Leslie Zinn: We need this position. You're hired. Go for it. Good luck.
[00:25:57] Sanjay Parekh: Do some stuff. Let me know if you need help.
[00:25:59] Leslie Zinn: Right. Right.
[00:25:59] Sanjay Parekh: And you're right. Most people are not like that.
[00:26:02] Leslie Zinn: Yeah.
[00:26:02] Sanjay Parekh: And it's good because those of us that are entrepreneurs need people that
[00:26:07] Leslie Zinn: Totally.
[00:26:07] Sanjay Parekh: can actually get the work done and follow the rules and stay within the guardrails. But it's incumbent upon us as entrepreneurs to figure out what those guardrails are. So that's good. So, so now you're going back and done all that.
[00:26:20] Leslie Zinn: We're still in the process. Yeah.
[00:26:22] Sanjay Parekh: That's what I was going to ask. There's still action happening there?
[00:26:25] Leslie Zinn: Absolutely. Yeah.
[00:26:26] Sanjay Parekh: And how is it that you figured this out? Was it that you just woke up and realized this?
[00:26:31] Leslie Zinn: No.
[00:26:31] Sanjay Parekh: Did you have somebody that told you this? Like how did you figure this out?
[00:26:33] Leslie Zinn: We brought in consultants.
[00:26:36] Sanjay Parekh: Okay.
[00:26:36] Leslie Zinn: I belonged to a group where a woman had used these consultants and she had been really thrilled. And, you know, I'm kind of a scrappy entrepreneur. We'll get through it. We can figure this out, you know, and she was like, look, they showed me A, B and C, and it affected me this way to the bottom line. And I said, ‘Hmm.’ And they came in for three days and just did an analysis and everything they said rang true.
So, I was like, okay, come in, come help us. And so, yeah, that's what we're doing now.
[00:27:06] Sanjay Parekh: So very valuable to get expert advice.
[00:27:09] Leslie Zinn: Yes.
[00:27:09] Sanjay Parekh: At the right time there.
[00:27:10] Leslie Zinn: Yeah.
[00:27:10] Sanjay Parekh: Okay. So, let's talk about other entrepreneurs. People that are thinking about doing something like this. I don't know if anybody's going to buy a cold press juicer and try and start a juicing company. But thinking about launching a side hustle or small business, like you were there in the beginning. What would your advice be for somebody like that? That's thinking about it, that hasn't done it, that's debating about it. What would you tell them?
[00:27:35] Leslie Zinn: I would tell them that if they feel super passionate about what they want to do, then they should absolutely go for it. I think the most important thing is to really enjoy what you do. And like, in my life, both my parents, my father was a Tech professor and he absolutely loved, loved, loved his job, and my mom the same. And then I know so many people that are in jobs that they don't love. So, if you love what you're doing, and you're really interested in this side hustle, whatever it is, and it moves you, you're going to be willing to go to any lengths to get it off the ground.
And that was what was important to me. Like I was working extremely long hours. I was doing every job imaginable. I was a delivery driver. I pressed the juice. I helped the retail customers. I mean, it didn't matter. There was no job that was beneath me, you know, we didn't even have any employees, so we were all doing this.
And I loved it. You know, so I think that if it's something that you're, I don't know if it's something that you're just doing it, like, you think it's a good idea and you just want to make money. I don't know. Maybe that's okay. But for me, I mean, I did want to make money for sure. Like if my mom were in business, she would, when I used to do, every so often, my mom would need a day off when she was delivering to the hair salons, you know?
[00:28:56] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah.
[00:28:56] Leslie Zinn: And so, I would do her route for. And literally every third person would tap me on the shoulder and say, “Arden normally charges me $2.” And I would come back from this route and I would have like smoke coming out of my ears. You know, I would be so mad and I would say, “Mom, we cannot sell this juice for $2,” and she'd say, “But Leslie, they can't afford it otherwise.”
And I'd be like, “We can't afford it!” You know? So, for her, the whole thing that motivated her was wellness. That was it, you know?
[00:29:31] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah.
[00:29:31] Leslie Zinn: For me, it's wellness, but it's also profitability, you know? So, it is to be a sustainable company and be able to continue on.
[00:29:40] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Okay. Last question for you because, you've now been in this business for so many years and I imagine that it's so easy to blur the line between work and life and how this kind of blends into family life and everything. How do you manage keeping these things separate? Or do you manage to keep them separate? Or does it matter? Like how do you think about those things?
[00:30:05] Leslie Zinn: So, I actually think that my life has blurred into my work. Okay?
[00:30:12] Sanjay Parekh: Versus the other way around?
[00:30:14] Leslie Zinn: Yeah.
[00:30:14] Sanjay Parekh: That people talk about. Okay.
[00:30:15] Leslie Zinn: So, I'll explain. So, I was your normal person, right? I was athletic. I ate whatever I wanted and, you know, whatever. And then over time, I started improving my diet for a number of reasons. Like I watched the movie Forks Over Knives and I was like, Okay we're not going to eat this.
And then, you know, I had a child that super struggled with weight. And so she went to a place that was very, very focused on plant based, and so I took her out there, I spent five days, like I was already plant based for many, many years. But I learned at that lo that place, that it wasn't important, what I didn't eat.
Like I'm not going to eat meat and dairy. But what, it was more important, what I did eat. So, like greens and beans and berries and things that were high, high nutrient dense. So, then all this education and changes, infiltrated work, right? So, we were just fresh juices and smoothies. And I was like, you cannot live by juice alone, you know?
[00:31:20] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah.
[00:31:20] Leslie Zinn: I'm struggling to have healthy food. How do we make this easier for other people?
[00:31:26] Sanjay Parekh: So, the product expansions at Arden's Garden have become because of what you've experienced in life?
[00:31:32] Leslie Zinn: Absolutely. Absolutely.
[00:31:34] Sanjay Parekh: Okay. So that's what we can expect to see then, I guess, in the future as well, more expansions into more and more things?
[00:31:40] Leslie Zinn: You will see more food, more offerings. More ways to make it easy to be healthy.
[00:31:46] Sanjay Parekh: That's awesome.
[00:31:47] Leslie Zinn: Not vegan, healthy.
[00:31:49] Sanjay Parekh: Healthy. Love it. Leslie, this has been phenomenal. I'm so excited for you. I'm so excited for the company. This has been just absolutely great. Thank you very much for being on the podcast.
[00:31:59] Leslie Zinn: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.