Freshly squeezed expansion

KAPAA — What started as a Kickstarter campaign has expanded.

Kauai Juice Company is adding two retail outlets for more visibility and to sell press and pasteurized juices on the North Shore — a specialty product they made famous at their home in the Dragon Building in Kapaa.

The health-minded business owners opened a retail store last week behind Java Kai, next to Mermaids, and will open a Kilauea store Monday next to Metamorphases Yoga inside the Stone building at 4641 Kapuna Road.

Tripling their space is no small feat, considering they started their company with a Kickstarter campaign in 2010, an online site that seeks donations to get innovative ideas off the ground.

“When you have no capital to start with then you get creative and learn to make product without having to spend in the beginning,” said Kristal Muhich, who co-owns the company with husband Dylan Scott.

Customers can expect the same cleansing juices that began in the famous blue building.

“The business is about healthy, sustainable products and is definitely constant and increasing,” said Kristal Muhich. “I am excited to tell people that we will now be up north.”

Muhich said the move was about better visibility and convenience, and more space for new items and added souvenir shirts and hats.

The cold press juices are also pasteurized and can only be sold out of their own business because of the very short shelf life.

The new stores will offer other incentives. While customers will still get a 50-cent bottle return, their signature Kombucha, a fermented tea considered a health food, is now on tap for customers who may purchase a half gallon “growler” container or bring their own. The tap allows for daily variations on taste by adding different fruits or vegetables, unlike the bottled products that must remain the same.

The juices can also be used for cleansing, during which customers reportedly flush toxins out of their body by drinking multiple juices — and nothing else — over the course of one to three days.

Juices have become more popular as people are eager to learn about the cost benefit of taking responsibility of their health, Muhich said. Among the company’s goals is to support local farming to benefit sustainable agriculture on Kauai, and avoid importing products from big beverage companies.

“In the meantime there are tons of benefits,” she said. “Healthier people are learning more about the things they can do and the steps they can take to feel better.”

Muhich started the company as Kauai Kombucha with a Kickstarter campaign in 2010. That helped it purchase a commercial juicer that squeezes the pulp with several hundred pounds of pressure to extract the maximum possible juice. It compresses two to five pounds of produce with dense nutrition into every 17-ounce bottle, which can cost $8 each.

Starting with a crew of two, Muhich brewed, bottled and sold tasty, fermented juices out of a pickup window in the rear of the Dragon Building. Without business experience, money, or loans, they started cleaning and reusing wine bottles for juice.

The “broke model” meant starting without debt and continually reinvesting into the business. They began to expand slowly.

“That is the way it should be,” she added.

Within a year, Kauai Juice Company was established. They began to bottle an entire line of cold pressed, organic and locally sourced juices.

Muhich worked on a business plan with John Latkiewicx, director of the Kauai Small Business Development Center, who helped her navigate the loopholes. Today, Kauai Juice has about 15 full-time and part-time staff.

Muhich and Scott said being marriage and business partners is a good combination.

Scott brings 17 years of restaurant experience and makes his own hot sauces.

“I have always been in the food industry and have been learning more about the health industry since I met Kristal,” he said.

The two say the business has been a rewarding, fulfilling experience. The reward is seeing the results with repeat customers and, now, expansion.

“We have made mistakes, as with any business, and we are learning as we go,” Muhich said. “Each day we create more quality product, and each day we learn more about it and ourselves and hopefully this quality is what keeps people coming back.”


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