When Life Gives You Lemons You Come to Jersey City & Squeeze them
I recently found out that Jersey City has more women entrepreneurs than men. So, it is only fitting that I interview Carolyn Texadore, owner of Squeez’d NJ LLC, who is killing it in life, love, and work. She told me last year she was making enough money at the farmer’s market to sustain her throughout the entire year. So, in the words of the old millennial I am … #LADYBOSS #womenownedbusiness #entrepreneur.
The motto of Squeez’d NJ LLC is pouring love and health into every cup and this is truly how Carolyn is.
Carolyn’s story didn’t always start out positive but she never stopped believing in herself. She is a survivor of domestic abuse and stalking (Listen to her story on the podcast What is Jersey City). She has lived in shelters and women’s homes, while still taking care of her children. She had to move and hide but in the end realized that she can’t hide forever, so she finally stopped and came home to NYC.
She had been living with a friend in NYC while saving money for her own place. Someone had mentioned looking at Jersey City and she fell in love with the view of New York City from Riverview Park. She was working with a realtor and the day she quit her job they called her and said we have the apartment for you. She packed her bags and slept on the floor of the apartment. “For the 1st time in a long time, I felt ok. I can breathe. I didn’t have to look over my shoulder. I don’t have to be afraid. It was time to be me again!”
Side note: She made the decision to leave her 9-5 and let her now fiancé know who had no choice but to say ok! She had been saving money and knew she had enough, so she took a year off to figure out what she wanted to do.
Everyday, in the middle of January, she would sit watching the city, and knew she had picked the right place. When the farmer’s market started up, she went to each vendor and bought something. She also spoke with Niambi from Bloomsbury Square and was so inspired because she was
“doing her own thing and I have such a great respect
Many changes happened that year. Carolyn had just quit smoking (woohoo) and was gaining weight (boo). So she decided she was going to do a detox. She did a lot of research on juicing and detoxing and Victor, her fiancé, said “Great let’s do it together.” They did a 30 day juice cleanse with smoothies for dinner and she lots 14 lbs in 2 weeks. “I felt amazing. My skin cleared up. And my energy, which is already super high, just increased.” Besides making the juices themselves, they wanted to buy them as well because juicing is hard work. They would drive around the Jersey City and couldn’t find a juice bar. The closest thing in the Heights/Journal Square area is an asian market near Five Corner where they can make a few different juices.
So during this time she would be at home (because Victor had the car) and she was so frustrated she couldn’t get juices anywhere nearby. And the lightbulb went off in her head to open a shop, but the gamut of NO’s began happening: a brick and mortar is too expensive, too much time, even bankruptcy. And then another light bulb went off: THE FARMER’S MARKET!!!
She went to work on plans and when Victor came home he ask, “What have you been doing!?” She explained that she had figured out that they were going to sell juices at the farmer’s market. She had everything laid out: pricing, menu, ounces, recipes and they could look up more. And trying it at the farmer’s market provided a way to test the market and let me tell you, the test worked!
The name came easily to Carolyn as they would be squeezing the juices so “Squeez’d” and the name wasn’t taken so she snapped it up. She worked quickly and after 3 months she had everything set. So after a year of being in Jersey City she opened at the next year’s Riverview Farmer’s Market. She applied to many Farmer’s Market but her #1 priority was to be in Riverview; it was her home and she wanted to give back because this is the place that made her finally feel home.
There is a lot that goes into being at a vendor at a farmer’s market, but Carolyn takes the challenge. The positive is that stand becomes your commercial kitchen and it is also the worst thing because they can’t prep anything until they get to the market. But she loves it, even the hard labor of carrying the 25-30 jugs of water, setting up the tables, all the appliances, and the fruits and veggies.
She believes in providing value to her customers and she refuses to charge store prices for her juices. “I wanted to cover our costs and make a little money on the side.” Now this is her bread and butter and she does photography and make up on the side for fun. They work hard the whole season from April to October.
During the winter of 2015, Carolyn decided she wanted to make some changes for the 2016 season. So, instead of waiting until 2016 when they would have a cash flow, they took on some catering gigs over the winter. They provided additional income and a confidence booster. After her first catering gig, where she brought home $1000 for 2 hours of work, she came home and cried. “My dream of being fully responsible for my financial direction was here. And that was one of my woah moments.”
She had no idea how successful this business was going to be and it’s continued success keeps her wanting more. She thought people were going to call her crazy and say why should I buy from you. But instead, she has regulars who bring their babies to say hi and newcomers who fall in love with the completely customizable menu. People also have suggested cold pressing and bottling the juices because they want to drink them on non-farmer’s market days. But the primary goal of Squeez’d is to provide fresh product because “there is nothing like a fresh cup of juice.” But stay tuned on that!
She buys everything from local markets around the heights daily (fresh is #1) and if she is at a farmer’s market, will buy all the leaf greens from the farmers. She also tries to have organic options, but it can be hard if you do not have the resources. They are currently in talks to be able to get into the biggest market for buying organic product in Manhattan.
What is new and exciting for 2016, well if you have been to the Squeez’d tent you know they had added Lemon Juices to their menu. Watermelon and Lemon and Ginger and Lemon are Carolyn’s favorites. Also, something really exciting and a Growing in Jersey City Exclusive is they are having a truck outfitted so they can join the Jersey City food truck revolution. They can bring the truck to events and on the truck they will be adding acai bowls to the menu.
Carolyn has no plans of leaving Jersey City for greener pastures because this city has helped her become an even stronger more vibrant woman. She is getting closer and closer to the people who live here and that is what makes Jersey City so special. “I LOVE Jersey City. I have fallen in love with Jersey City. I don’t see myself leaving for a very long time!”
Where can you find Squeez’d? All over Jersey City of course!
Everyday at 8 Springs Studio - 6:30am-12pm and 4-8pm
Stay tuned for next years market schedule.
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