Like so many small businesses, the story behind Danie’s Natural Juice Blends is deeply personal — and one that we’re honored to help tell. What began as one woman’s wellness journey morphed into a purpose-driven cold-pressed juice business. Nearly two years after our work began together, we connected with founder Danielle Marshall to reflect and get a taste of what’s to come for Danie’s.
A pre-diabetes diagnosis in 2011 was the impetus for Danielle’s passion for juicing. “Being a healthcare professional and the daughter of one diabetic parent, I knew that diabetes impacts every major body system. And working in a medical setting, I always said I wouldn’t give my money to the pharmaceutical industry. So, I began juicing as part of the lifestyle change I needed to make, including the need to lose weight. I was completely up-front about how I was cold-pressing juices and building them into my diet, and eventually, friends and family began to ask me to help them do what I did. From there, I started making and sharing my juices — in Mason jars — with like-minded people. That’s how Danie’s grew into a real business.”
Through our work with Sunshine Enterprises, a Chicago organization that provides resources and education to high-potential entrepreneurs living in under-resourced neighborhoods, we had the pleasure of crossing paths with Danielle during the early days of Danie’s. As part of Sunshine’s Shark Tank-inspired pitch competition, Nancy Lerner, our co-founder and chief brand strategist, provided coaching sessions to the five winners — including Danielle.
From the outset, Nancy knew that Danielle was at a critical moment in the evolution of her business. She explains, “Danielle was a model participant in the 12-week Community Business Academy at Sunshine. She soaked up every bit of the experience and took in everything the Academy had to offer. But because Danielle didn’t hail from an ecosystem of entrepreneurs and successful business owners, there were many aspects of running her business that she didn’t even know she was missing. Meanwhile, as our coaching sessions continued, I became absolutely certain that Danielle is a natural entrepreneur in her own right and has all the ingredients to succeed, including relentless drive, ambition, brains, creativity, the ability to adapt, a finger on the pulse of the market, a keen understanding of production and distribution…and an extraordinary product. My job — and our job at Otherwise — was to give her a set of brand and marketing tools to help her fly.”
To help Danielle take her business to the next level, Nancy brought Danie’s to the Otherwise team. “We initially focused on elevating the business’ nascent branding and marketing assets,” Nancy shares. “This included shifting the name from Danie’s Detox to Danie’s Natural Juice Blends, designing a new visual identity system that combines a logo showcasing Danielle’s avatar and playful typography. With a focus on freshness and friendliness, we proposed a subscription service to provide steady, predictable revenue and created a smart, beautiful system of package labeling that gives Danielle and her team the flexibility to swap out juice flavors easily while establishing a commanding retail presence.”
As fruitful as this process was, it was also a critical experience for Danielle as a business owner.
“Nancy challenged me on so many levels to think bigger and it was a very emotional process. I was so attached to these juices and my home-grown business and I was afraid I would lose control as the business grew. But working with Otherwise helped me look at things from the perspective of my customers, so I began to have confidence in a view of the future of the business beyond my emotional attachment. I loved the new packaging and look of the brand from the moment I saw it — and it absolutely stops people in their tracks. But to get to the point that I had the confidence to believe the business could be successful, I had to work through a lot of things personally.”
Since then, Danie’s Natural Juice Blends has experienced tremendous growth. In Danielle’s words, “My growth looks like having learned so much about business and the industry we’re in. It looks like reaching more zip codes and repeat customers. Working at one farmer’s market and expanding to eight. Bringing on a partner because it’s more than I can handle, to hiring four staff members and managing them successfully. From being in one neighborhood store to receiving regular orders from Mariano’s. That’s an achievement. That’s success. The integrity of our product and how we show up is proven.”
Fast forward to today, when you can find Danie’s at Mariano’s Squeezed juice bar in the Bronzeville, Evergreen Park and South Loop stores, the Go Green Community Fresh Market at 63rd & Racine, and rotating locations across the University of Chicago, in addition to several of the city’s biggest farmer’s markets from May through October. And as we publish this post, Danie’s just popped up in the lobby café at the Hyatt Hotel on Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, with other locations to follow.
But this is only the beginning of the company’s success story. Looking ahead, Danielle aspires to build Danie’s into a recognized, desired brand with wholesale accounts at major stores, grocers and health food stores. “Success for me will be when you can walk into a big retailer and find Danie’s products in the refrigerator or at the juice bar. But measured in terms of what really sparked this business, we’re already successful. Every day we’re living our mission of educating and inspiring, and providing a product that really helps people.”
As happy Danie’s customers who have sampled nearly all of their twenty(ish) tasty blends, we can confidently claim that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better cold-pressed juice in all of Chicagoland. Learn more, browse and shop at daniesnaturaljuice.com. And keep an eye on this talented entrepreneur. She is going to continue to delight and surprise all of us!