We chat all things circular, sustainable and entrepreneurial with Sejuiced and The Juice Round founder, Sylvia Garvin - Blog

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Tuesday 11th January 2022

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get into the world of entrepreneurship?

I originally started out selling fresh juices and smoothies from a market stall on Portobello Road in Notting Hill. This was in 2004, before street trading became a well-trodden path for food and drink start-ups. It was quite a culture shock after cosy office life! I had returned to London after taking a year out backpacking around the world. I had left my job and was fired up with heaps of inspiration from my travels (although lacking direct experience). It felt like the right time to venture into entrepreneurship as I had very little to lose. However, I soon learned that the British climate wasn’t suited to an outdoor cold drinks business, so I started offering our services for corporate events as a form of healthy hospitality, with options to personalise the pop-up bar presentation and packaging.

I’ve always had a passion for food and drink and marketing, so it seemed a natural next step to bring these together. This became Sejuiced, a company creating bespoke drinks for businesses which is now part of The Crown Partnership

Anime cartoon figures at event with drinks

Sejuiced: hospitality heroes since 2004

As Sejuiced grew, I became increasingly uneasy about the amount of disposable packaging passing through our doors. There was a total disconnect between the considerable time we invested in fulfilling customer orders (juicing and blending ingredients together, painstakingly labelling and filling bottles by hand), and the fleeting moment during which our products were consumed, only for the bottles to then be disposed of (and not necessarily recycled, with long-term consequences). After Blue Planet, there was a decisive customer shift away from plastic to glass as a material, but again those glass bottles were being treated as disposable. It seemed illogical that they would be broken down into pieces through the recycling process and then later remade, when they can simply be refilled and reused. I couldn’t find any obvious solution, so I created The Juice Round.

Plastic bottle litter on beach

Plastic litter on beach

Now let’s move on to your newer ventures, The Juice Round. How is it shaking up the industry?

The Juice Round is a specialist drinks service providing juices, smoothies and iced coffees in returnable glass bottles across London. Our clients include premium grocery stores and coffee shops, as well as luxury fashion boutiques and offices.

We do drinks differently in a number of ways, with our proposition centred around the core principles of reducing waste and promoting freshness. The Juice Round's drinks are sourced, hand produced and delivered hyper locally - our vision is to provide farm shop freshness right in the heart of cities. This localised model of production runs counter to the industry norm, whereby juices are typically made in a factory far from the customer, often overseas. Secondly, we produce weekly in small batches to order, which maximises freshness and minimises waste from unused stock. Thirdly, we deliberately have a low minimum order quantity and allow our trade partners to order each flavour by the bottle, mirroring their customers’ buying patterns and avoiding wastage from over-ordering.

Juice in bottle with ingredients

The Juice Round

Above everything, I strongly feel that drinks manufacturers should take responsibility for their packaging and view this as a valuable asset, rather than a disposable commodity that becomes someone else’s problem once finished with. To reinforce this, we offer a rebate on each bottle collected that we reuse and do not need to repurchase.

Do you think the reuse and the renting business model is the future for other companies?

Absolutely. We’ve already seen reusing permeate across different sectors, for example in the fashion industry with department stores such as Selfridges offering luxury clothing rentals. There’s exciting innovation at a community level too, with concepts such as The Library of Things offering occasional use items such as DIY tools and household equipment on a hire basis.

Living in an urban environment blighted by street litter and fly tipping, I often reflect on how our connection with nature is broken and the health of our planet is just a distant backdrop in people’s lives. However, the pandemic and extreme weather events have started to raise public consciousness. I think we’re finally beginning to transition away from our linear take-make-waste system to a circular economy. Humans have exerted such a marked domination over the planet that we’ve come to view natural resources as something to appropriate for our own needs and lifestyles. However, I think we’re finally coming to the realisation that we’re custodians of the earth for future generations and must learn to live in balance with nature.

Empty glass bottles in crate

The tone you use on your website doesn’t heroise. For example, when you describe The Juice Round you say, ‘this isn’t a ground-breaking change but a small, manageable step’. Is this a conscious mode of communication to you?

Yes absolutely, it’s important for reusing to be accessible. To achieve change, we have to normalise reusing, reducing and recycling and remind ourselves that we all have our personal power as consumers. The scale of climate change can seem very overwhelming and our own sphere of influence can feel diminished by comparison. It’s natural to experience negative emotions and anxiety when hearing about the latest catastrophic environmental predictions in the news. Making small lifestyle changes such as reusing and buying sustainably, are a positive way of regaining control in what can feel like a runaway situation. Amidst all this uncertainty and inaction, you’re pro-actively and repeatedly casting your vote for the planet’s future which is empowering. Our daily choices do make a difference.

What are your top tips for founding a company that doesn’t follow the market trends and has sustainability at its heart?

As sustainability is such a broad arena, I think it’s important to home in on the aspect(s) that are most meaningful to you. Ask yourself, what is the thing that I’m most frustrated by or passionate about, and why? Use your dissatisfaction as a force for change. Most start-ups have limited resources, so it’s sensible to keep a tight focus from a practical perspective too. As your business grows, you’ll have a greater influence and the capacity to take on a bigger agenda.

Reuse icon on blue bin

Reduce Reuse Recycle

I’d also recommend choosing a field that relates to your knowledge or previous experience, where you’ve spotted an opportunity for improvement. Drawing on my background in hospitality, I felt I could bring my service ethic to consumer packaged goods by designing The Juice Round as a service as well as a product. We build lasting partnerships with our trade customers and keep delivery in-house, as opposed to outsourcing to a third-party distributor which dilutes those connections.

What is next on the horizon for you and your companies?

I’m excited for the progress we’re set to achieve in 2022. We’re about to launch into some non-foodservice outlets and I’m looking forward to expanding our impact into these new contexts.

We’re planning to move into new premises in the first quarter of the year, followed by investing in larger scale equipment to improve our capacity and efficiency. Last year was very much about achieving proof of concept, whereas this year is about building and growth. More bottles being reused means less single use packaging being discarded and potentially contaminating our environment.

Longer term, I’d love to set up a network of Juice Rounds in major cities across the UK, and provide a delicious, local and sustainable alternative to mass-manufactured drinks.

If you want to stay up-to-date with Sylvia's #refillnotlandfill mission, follow The Juice Round and Sejuiced on socials! 

Hattie Lindsey

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