Uptown Juice Company is on a mission to nourish the city of Oakland. Health conscious, socially conscious, and environmentally conscious, this mom-founded beverage company has been operating out of Kitchener Oakland, a co-working kitchen for Oakland food startups, since the summer of 2013, offering pick-up and delivery of raw, organic, cold-pressed juices. In November, they signed a lease for a brick-and-mortar retail location by 17th and Broadway and are currently raising funds to make the move viable.

It’s been a wild and exciting journey for owner and Bay Area native Janice Yenpasook. A year ago, Yenpasook commuted from Oakland to an advertising job in San Francisco. With a demanding career and a toddler at home, she relied on fruit-and-veggie drinks to pack vital nutrients into her busy life. Plenty of options existed in San Francisco, but she noticed a lack in Oakland. Bothered by that void, Yenpasook toyed with the idea of personally filling it. Then, her brother was diagnosed with cancer. “It affected me a lot,” said Yenpasook. “It solidified my drive to start a company.” With a strengthened resolve to bring disease-fighting, antioxidant-rich juices to Oakland, Yenpasook left her “nice and cushy” job in San Francisco to take the entrepreneurial road.

A couple months after the launch of Uptown Juice Company, Yenpasook’s friend Pernilla Pajala, also a mother, hopped on board as the team’s Certified Holistic Nutritionist. It can be helpful having kids around said Pajala, laughing: “If it passes the kids, you know it’s good. If they’re like ‘uuuuurrrggg,’ it’s back to the mixing board.” “We want to show people that it’s possible to start your own business and be a mom,” added Yenpasook. “If you have a vision, a dream — you can do it! Oakland supports it,” she said, citing resources like Inner City Advisors, Impact HUB, the Renaissance Center, and SCORE as examples.

Uptown Juice Company promotes health with the highest quality juices you could really get (cold-pressed, local organic ingredients), and the company composts virtually all of their kitchen waste, reuses glass containers, and hires from populations that typically have trouble securing work (under-represented groups, women, and people in recovery). At their new production kitchen and retail space, Uptown Juice Company plans to hire twelve more Oakland residents — ten part-time and two in full-time positions with benefits.

“Uptown” isn’t just a name. “I’m invested in the neighborhood, and in Oakland in general,” said Yenpasook. To invest in Uptown Juice Company and make their new space possible, check out their Kickstarter campaign. Community contributions at this stage are vital. Funds go toward procuring equipment that can take months to arrive that needs to be installed before the City of Oakland and Alameda Environmental Health Service give final approval to operate the business. The fundraiser is all or nothing — either they reach their goal or they will not receive any of the donations pledged — and the campaign ends Monday at 11:59 p.m.

Pernilla Pajala and Janice Yenpasook

Pernilla Pajala and Janice Yenpasook

For more information, visit Uptown Juice Company’s
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Kickstarter campaign here!

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