Naomi Le Bihan and Amanda Hehr
Job title: Co-Founders and Directors, Cru Juice
Why they're 2015 Top 40s:
As the brains behind Cru Juice, a company they’ve grown in just over a year from two people to more than 40 employees making more than 800 bottles of juice each day, entrepreneurs Naomi Le Bihan and Amanda Hehr are helping fuel Calgarians, one healthy juice at a time.
photograph by colin way
After working for more than a decade at their respective desk jobs, Naomi Le Bihan and Amanda Hehr were hungry for change.
“I was sitting at a desk for 10 hours a day and I could feel my health deteriorating,” says Hehr. “We were both tired of the grind.”
The long-time friends, both experts in business development, strategy and brand management, decided to try a different type of grind: pressing fruits and vegetables into juice. The duo had seen how popular raw juices had become in cities such as New York and Los Angeles and figured that Calgary, being the hard-working and healthy city that it is, would embrace the trend.
It turns out Calgary was very thirsty.
Since opening the first Cru Juice location in Bridgeland in July 2014, the partners have opened another two stand-alone retail stores, hired more than 40 employees and launched a Cru on Location program that keeps fridges at 15 retailers and gyms around town stocked with fresh juice. The company also plans to open a fourth location in Southcentre this month. “We smile when we see people walking down the street with Cru,” says Le Bihan.
To accommodate demand, Cru works with eight to 10 produce suppliers from across North America to make 800 to 1,200 bottles of juice a day. Three to five pounds of raw produce are pressed into each bottle of juice, explaining the company’s hashtag, #RealAndRaw. Much effort goes into developing each of the 18 blends, some of which are available only when the produce is in season.
“All of our blends have been built to the millilitre,” says Le Bihan. “We refine and refine until [the taste] is perfect.”
Balancing a thriving business with family time has been tough, say the partners, but they’re finding their stride. They make time for fitness, be it spin, barre classes or running, and every quarter the women get away for a few days to recharge.
They will need the energy. With burgeoning online sales, plans to open a large production facility and commissary in Calgary in 2016, and their sights set on growth outside the province, Cru’s future is bright.
“Growth is one thing, but it’s about creating a movement,” says Le Bihan. Adds Hehr: “That’s the best part — knowing we’re part of a movement toward people living a better and fuller life. And that’s what feels so good.” — Michelle Magnan