When the stress from Landon Eckles’ job in international real estate development started to affect his home life, he and his wife, Kat, decided to make a change. In June 2015, Landon, 32, and Kat, 31, opened their first Clean Juice in Birkdale Village in Huntersville.

Two years later, Clean Juice opened stores in South End, StoneCrest Shopping Center, Northlake and Davidson with Mooresville and Fort Mill locations coming soon. According to Landon, they are expanding across the United States and have awarded 69 franchise units.

The Eckles knew Charlotte was a prime location to begin their business.

“People in Charlotte are a special breed of people,” Kat said. “They’re transplants from all over. A lot of them are here for opportunity. They’re smart and they’re educated and I think that’s why it’s been such a rocket ship location for us. People living here were really ready for what we were bringing.”

Clean Juice has certified organic products like fresh pressed juices and smoothies for $6.95-$9.95 and acai bowls for $8.50-$9.95. They also offer several options for a juice cleanse, ranging from “Juice ‘til Dinner” at $36 to a “Five Day Cleanse” at $255.

Landon and Kat answered C5’s questions for the Small Business Series:

Why juice?

Landon: “Kat started really getting into health after… our first daughter was born. [She] really started doing research about why juicing is important, why smoothies are important and why it’s important to eat organically. We saw a need in Charlotte, North Carolina for a juice bar.”

How did you get the startup capital to open the first Clean Juice?

Landon: “We took our entire life savings and put it into our first store, which was obviously a big risk, but at the same time felt very called to do what we are doing.”

Is juicing a trend or something that has longevity?

Landon: “I try to look at things on a macro level. Juicing and smoothies is over an $8 billion business just here in the United States. So it’s a big, big business and it’s been around for a long time but it’s picked up a lot of steam recently.

“I think the more research that comes out about why juicing and why eating clean is so beneficial to health, I really believe we are at the tip of the iceberg with the clean eating movement.”

What is the process for awarding a franchise?

Kat: “Initially they contact us, then they work with our franchise manager who walks them through our legal documents. Then, when they are ready to take that next step, they fly out here to Charlotte.

“Landon and I will have breakfast with them. Then they go on a discovery day where they go to multiple stores and they get to see how the whole process works. Then they come back and sit down for a leadership panel interview with our directors and above. They will take a personality test which gives us a little more information about them. Then our whole executive team meets to decide if we think they are going to be a good fit. Then we give them preliminary approval and a realtor starts to work with them on location.”

What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?

Kat: “This is actually embarrassing. We just got back from Aruba for our 10-year wedding anniversary so while we were in Aruba we saw the Tupac movie [‘All Eyez on Me’].”

Photos: Clean Juice

Family history and my own fascination with people and their motivations prompted me to begin this series about Charlotte’s small business owners. Industry, situation and questions will vary. Have a suggestion for a small business owner or entrepreneur to interview? Email it to vanessainfanzon@gmail.com with the subject line “Small Business Series.”

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