On a mission to share nutrient-dense, delicious smoothies and foods that make you feel GREAT. Help us open our flagship store!
About this project
In a Nutshell
At Lizzy’s All Natural, our goal is to make clean, healthy eating accessible and affordable in Shanghai by offering the freshest on-the-go drinks hand crafted with traceable, sustainably sourced ingredients.
Since April 2014, we’ve created more than 35 types of superfood smoothies, nut milks and detoxifying cleanse sets to fuel the people of Shanghai’s fast-paced lifestyle.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates
Our mission is to change the way people think about where their food comes from and rebuild the relationship from seed to plate. Education is at the core of what we do. Opening a physical space will allow us to hold events, workshops, cooking classes and bring the community together. Currently, Lizzy’s superfood smoothies are distributed through fitness studios, at farmers markets and a grocery store with a growing network of other vendors.
Wait… what’s a Superfood?
Superfood are foods that are crazy high in nutrients. In other words, they offer the most bang for your nutritional buck – the greatest health value given their size and caloric value. Some of my favorite superfoods? Raw cacao, Spirulina, Goji berries, Kale, Chia seeds, Coconut oil, Raw apple cider vinegar and the list goes on…
Who is Lizzy?
Hi there! My name is Elizabeth and I am a Holistic Health Coach from Connecticut, USA. My dream is to teach and empower my generation in China about our health and how to use food as a tool for healing and restoring. To put it simply, I want to help people eat better. And I believe that is possible through two ways: first, by teaching people more about where their food comes from and how it can be preventative medicine. Second, is by actually providing accessible, affordable and delicious foods.
This is especially crucial in China, where residents face enormous challenges finding clean food that we can trust. There are countless food safety issues (ranging from heavy metals found in rice to pesticide-laden vegetables to rancid meat soaked in chemicals and resold…) as well as major environmental challenges in the form of industrial waste and pollution. The fast-paced lifestyle in the city means most people turn to packaged fast foods which are full of preservatives and chemicals… basically food-like products.
I’m very passionate about health, wellness and food. My mother taught me and my three sisters to cook and the kitchen really is my happy place. I’ve always loved experimenting with different flavors and colorful antioxidant-rich foods and making green smoothies. In my free time, I read health and food blogs and books. About a decade ago I became a vegetarian and since then have experimented with many different dietary theories ranging from vegan to paleo. I now follow a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet which makes me feel awesome and energized every day. I prepare foods to heal my body and have helped many friends, family and health coaching clients along the way to make sustainable lifestyle changes. I find so much joy in learning about how to help myself and others live healthier and more fulfilled lives.
What else might you want to know? I was first drawn to China many years ago when my parents hosted a Chinese exchange student named Amy, who has become like a fourth sister. I first spent time in Beijing in 2008 on an exchange and returned subsequent times for travel and language study. After graduating from Georgetown University in the Washington D.C. I moved back to Shanghai in August 2013 to help New York food producers export organic and artisanal foods to China. Prior to my return, I tracked food safety scandals and studied international food trade for nearly two years.
In 2013, I decided to pursue my passion for health by enrolling in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I’m now a certified Holistic Health Coach and work with female entrepreneurs, executives and athletes to reach their health and life goals.
Progress to Date
For nearly a year I’ve been testing the market and with the input of my customers, I’ve worked to improve both the taste of the blends as well as optimized the nutritional benefits. I am now selling well over a hundred smoothies every day through an online green grocer in Shanghai called Kate & Kimi and in several fitness studios. I also pop up regularly at farmers and school markets around Shanghai.
The response so far has been so much better than I could have ever anticipated. I constantly get messages from folks who are seeking new superfood snacks and meals like raw salads, chia pudding, coconut yogurt, kombucha, wheatgrass, kale chips and so much more. Many of these foods are new or not yet available here.
Up until this point, the majority of my clients have been foreign expatriates living in Shanghai. However, I have crafted recipes that are well received by my Chinese clients’ taste buds and have developed an outreach strategy to grow quickly within this demographic.
Let’s Talk Shop
I’m opening my first store so that I can provide more access to healthy foods for the community and get the proper licensing for my business. This storefront doubles as a health educational space.
The layout and design of this shop are intended to facilitate community interaction, conversation and learning. The space allows for comfortable seating of approximately 12 people – the perfect size for group coaching, classes, lectures and cooking demos. I will also have a library, where anyone is welcome to read or borrow my go-to health and self-care books.
With more kitchen space, I can expand my product line beyond smoothies to foods like kale chips, vegan soups, raw granolas, non-dairy yogurts and puddings, superfood trail mixes, and other snacks. There is virtually no access to products like these at this time in Shanghai.
This first shop will be a laboratory of sorts, testing what clients respond to in a highly personal way. Once the shop is up and running, we will apply best practices to open up more spaces. In the meantime, we will continue to pursue additional distribution outlets, such as fitness studios, offices and beyond.
My goal is to first expand Lizzy’s across the city. I am committed to living in China and growing this company for the long-term. Within the next five years, my goal is for Lizzy’s will be available nationwide. I will expand the product line with the goal of making super healthy (plant-based whole food) ‘fast food’ a viable option in China. I also will leverage the brand as a teaching platform for health and wellness as much as possible.
This is an amazing city with so much energy and growth, but those of us who live here experience fear and stress every day trying to find foods we can trust and that make us feel good. We are also all exposed to a heavy toxin load due to high levels of pollution, industrial waste, and chemicals.
Unfortunately in China, there is still a lack of transparency and traceability in the food industry in particular. Many people have no idea where their food is coming from, what ingredients were used, or how food was made. Even vegetables are extremely risky as most commercial farms here are using dangerously high levels of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals.
On a broader note, in terms of health challenges, noncommunicable chronic diseases are the leading causes of death in the world. Diseases and conditions including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer can all be linked to DIET. We now see rates of such diseases soaring in China, which poses a huge threat to the future of this country’s health and economy.
Food is at the core of everything we do. We use it to fuel our workouts, sustain our lifestyles, and to nourish our minds. Right now, we are presented with an overwhelming variety of extremely unhealthy, processed, foods. My rule is to never eat something with a longer shelf life than me.
There is also significant misinformation that we, as consumers, are faced with as we try to make smart food choices. Is grass or grain fed better? Should I buy organic or local? How much protein do we actually need? Must I calorie count? Should I be gluten free? We are faced with a myriad of options and it is hard to pick out not only what is best but also what will be optimal for our unique bodies.
I feel responsible for and passionate about sharing the knowledge I’ve gained from school and life and want to be apart of a solution and not just one in the crowd of voices and questions.
How’d you Choose your Shop Location?
The shop is located in a wellness complex called Anken Life in Jing’an, an up-and-coming part of the city. It is nearby the art district M50 and in the vicinity of many creative offices and work spaces. Within Anken, there are Crossfit, Spinning, Boxing and Yoga/Pilates studios. There are several more sports facilities in a four block radius too, so many of the frequent visitors to the area already have the mindset of striving to eat clean. Currently (outside of local Chinese take-away restaurants), there is only one foreign cafe in the area. For anyone working or training in the area, this means little choice.
Isn’t Juicing Just a Fad? Why is Lizzy’s Unique?
In the West, there have been a growing number of juice bars and extreme cleanses. Some great companies are working with the goal of increasing health while others may be more interested in winning profit by promising the impossible. I completely disagree with the claims that 1) your body is incapable of detoxing without the help of supplements or extreme diets and that 2) doing a short-term cleanse will slim you down and clean you from the inside out permanently so you don’t have to take responsibility for unhealthy choices outside of this period.
I believe that a healthy life is a marathon not a sprint. It is a lifelong commitment to yourself, made up of small positive choices and habits. Eating (or drinking) quality living foods is a key part of this… however ultimately a truly healthy lifestyle is about the whole picture (mind-body-spirit). It includes having meaningful relationships, a handle on your spirituality, a career that brings you joy, being active and more. No 3-day juice fast can solve this.
Lizzy’s was founded on the principles of traceability, sustainability and quality. With each product, I strive to educate my clients about where each ingredient comes from, why I’ve used it, and how it will help their body.
I am completely open about the sources of my ingredients and where I get items like the vegetable wash I apply, water filtration system I use and my cleaning process.
I’ve partnered with Gusto Fine Foods, the top supplier of Western vegetables to the 5-star hotels and restaurants in China. Gusto grows produce at research institutes using imported seeds, filtered water, filtered air and clean soil.
Drinking a green juice or smoothie is going to be only as healthy as the quality of produce that goes into it. If a company is juicing conventionally grown produce and hasn’t washed it properly, consumers end up paying crazy amounts of money to drink chemicals and pesticides.
I’ve also worked to source packaging that is recycled and/or can be upcycled. Given how contaminated many plastics made in China are, I’m committed to using glass bottles. Not only is glass safer for the integrity of the drinks (many plastic containers risk leaching of chemicals) but my clients also send the bottles back to my kitchen where I sanitize and can reuse them. Other people have gotten creative and used bottles as flower vases or salad dressing holders. When delivering the glass bottles, I put a protective skin to prevent breakage which is reused from the skin put on my apples and pears when they come to my kitchen.
I am 100% committed to providing clean, affordable and delicious drinks & foods.
How You Can Help
With your support I can take this company to the next level. Up until now, profits from smoothie sales and savings have financed this project.
The money raised will go towards off-setting the following costs:
- Store renovations – putting in electricity, plumbing, painting and putting in furniture
- Purchase of additional equipment (in need of more blenders! also a commercial dehydrator, and hydraulic juicer)
- Legal and government fees for establishing a legit business with proper licensing
- Design and additional packaging
Thank you for your support and for taking the time to learn about Lizzy’s All Natural’s story!!
Risks and challenges
Because Lizzy’s has been up and running for nearly a year, I have the experience in sourcing (building a network of suppliers with integrity), quality control (making the perfect recipe every time) and managing expenses.
That said, opening a retail shop brings along a host of challenges – especially in a city like Shanghai where the concept of eating raw foods, cold food and healthy fast food is still very new to the market.
One thing I can’t control is the risk that the government stops my business from obtaining all necessary permits.
But majority of the risks involved I have the ability to manage and overcome and I have developed skills from my experience starting companies and working for startups for the past years.
The brick-and-mortar shop brings along fixed costs that will challenge me to grow as quickly and efficiently as possible. Costs I have not yet encountered over this past year include the hiring of more staff, adding more equipment to use for my new product lines and remodeling a space that is not just functional but also beautiful.
I have grown mainly through word of mouth but to succeed will need to invest significant time, energy and money into sharing my message and products. I have prepared for this and am 100% determined and committed to making Lizzy’s shop succeed from day one. Even if this one location is not as busy as I’ve anticipated by way of foot traffic, my wholesale distribution strategy will ensure that the kitchen is operating up to its full potential.