(CNN Money) — The co-founder of Pressed Juicery swears by the lifestyle benefits of juice, but he didn’t always feel that way.
Hayden Slater told CNNMoney that for most of his life he was pretty unhealthy.
“I was really overweight and malnourished, just eating foods that we shouldn’t be consuming, and that kind of became my normal,” he said.
Slater was introduced to cold-pressed juice in his 20s, and he said it became a “gateway” lifestyle change.
Pressed Juicery’s cold-pressed juice is extracted under high pressure, but it isn’t pasteurized, which means it has a shorter shelf life of about three days, according to its website.
For Slater, juice was a first step toward a healthier life: “Drink a green juice in the morning and all of a sudden I want to eat cleaner,” he said. “I want to work out.”
But it wasn’t a permanent change. When he finished college in New York and moved back to Los Angeles, he quickly picked up old habits. It wasn’t until he took a trip to Southeast Asia and embarked on a 30-day juice cleanse that the lifestyle stuck.
Slater admits 30 days was a bit excessive, but he credits it with helping him realize how much better he felt when eating healthy.
While juicing can be an easy way to consume fruits and vegetables, it’s important to practice moderation. Some pressed juices can contain a lot of sugar, while others lack valuable nutrients found in solid fruits and vegetables.
When he returned to the United States, he set out to provide easier access to better nutrition at an affordable price.
Slater, who attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, created Pressed Juicery with two of his childhood friends. None of them had prior business experience, and Slater said that in those early days they made decisions largely on intuition.
“We made decisions coming from what we as customers would have wanted,” he said.
Pressed launched in 2010. The team sold juices in shifts out of a tiny storefront.
“We got a cupcake shop in West L.A. to give us their kitchen at night, and I would make juice from about like 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. every day with two guys from Craigslist,” Slater said.
“I’d load up my car and bring it to our shop, which was a 22-square-foot broom closet. We convinced the landlord to give us this space. We took the door off, we put a Dutch door, and we essentially just, like, sold juice from there.”
There are now more than 70 locations in six states.
Pressed Juicery’s products cost significantly less than most of the company’s competitors. Bottles of cold-pressed juice cost $6.50, and Slater said there are plans to bring the price for a 16-ounce bottle down to $5.
“Starbucks has essentially trained our country that $5 is an appropriate price to pay for a beverage,” he said.
“If we can prove that with juice and you can kind of replace beans with three to four pounds of produce and you can get to that five dollar $5 price point, which we’re close to, you essentially can open anywhere a Starbucks is.”
Making healthier options affordable is something Slater is committed to. He’s even met with the mayor of Compton to discuss ways to bring juice to lower-income neighborhoods and make it even more accessible to people, regardless of income.