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Marketing Exec Leaves Corporate America To Open Organic Juice Bar & Healthy Bites Store

Kimberlee Burrows Clean Juice Franchise.jpg

For the better part of two decades, Kimberlee Burrows worked her way up the corporate ladder, winning competitive leadership roles along the way.

This year, stepping out in faith, she changed direction. Burrows decided to open Clean Juice – the first and only USDA-certified organic juice bar franchise. Her metro Atlanta-based store offers organic açaí bowls, cold-pressed juices, smoothies, and much more.

Still, just as Clean Juice was scheduled to open in March the Covid-19 pandemic abruptly forced bars and restaurants to close. Through her mantra of, “be flexible, embrace the chaos, and learn as you go” which happens to be “the core values of the [Clean Juice] company,” Burrows has turned a hindrance into a helping hand.

Despite its challenges, including a six-week setback, Burrows is positive about the experience. Her store is “clean, open and transparent” and it has forced Burrows, an MBA graduate, to respond efficiently to customer needs such as developing a robust app. Having gotten the word out effectively through social media, people are “clambering for healthy options.”

Clean Juice_Organic Juice_Healthy Bites

Healthy food options at Clean Juice in Marietta, Georgia

Clean Juice was launched in 2014 by Kat and Landon Eckles, a millennial couple from North Carolina, whose passion for juicing kickstarted a fast-growing nationwide franchise business. Burrows’ store is the fifth in Georgia, and she has plans to open up more stores.

Clean Juice franchise partner Burrows has taken on the position of general manager in her first store to give her a hands-on perspective and an insight into the intricacies of franchising. Clean Juice is unique as a faith-based brand, something that customers have responded to “very positively.” For Burrows, one of Clean Juice’s newest franchise owners, “it is a matter of how we treat people and the delight we take in serving them.” Burrows has developed a juice bar that is a successful business model and a community hub. Through touches such as a prayer jar and a community board, Burrows’ Clean Juice franchise is “putting out into the universe the positivity that they hope to see in [their] customer’s lives.”

Highflyer in Corporate America To Franchise Partner

Burrows has extensive experience as marketing director for companies such as McDonald’s, George-Pacific, and Campbell. She tells us, “throughout my career I’ve had the opportunity to work uniquely, bringing innovation and new ideas to these companies and translate insights that our customers have into solutions that our products can provide.” Intensely customer and results-orientated, Burrows notes that health, wellness, and transparency are core values that struck her over her years as a marketing executive. “Different companies have different abilities to offer this to their consumers. The key is recognizing a strong brand, and how a company can offer these values believably in a consumer’s mind.”

Kimberlee Burrows_Clean Juice Store.

Kimberlee Burrows at her Clean Juice store with a friend

Burrows cites her experience particularly at McDonald’s as formative. In Burrows’ experience, McDonald’s was “ahead of its time” in terms of promoting Hispanic, African American, and female talent. Burrows developed mentors “on the corporate and business owner side, relationships that helped and guided [her.]” Despite having role models, Burrows has coined the term “pioneer fatigue” for the sensation many African-American women at director of VP level in these industries feel. Trying to climb the corporate level, holding the flag of diversity, and leaving a legacy for the next generation led Burrows to ask herself, “how can I just live and not have to feel like I’m living a dream that may or may not be my own?”

“I feel more present in my life, there is a community aspect of it and my children see me in a professional environment that is also very familial.”

The economic power of minorities in franchising is steadily climbing in the US. And according to the US Census Bureau, between 2007 and 2012 there has been a 34.5% increase in black or African American-owned businesses and a 2 million increase in women-owned firms. Burrows laughs at the irony that as a black woman who opened a business during a pandemic that coincided with the BLM Movement, she is inadvertently a flag bearer still!

Leaving Corporate America To Regain Balance

Burrows left corporate America to regain sanity and life balance. She redefined what winning looks like, “being a working mother, I now have a degree of success defined on my own terms.”

“We just grow tired of being the ‘first’ or ‘only’ in leadership positions and that makes us feel a bit isolated, or not wholly authentic in corporate careers,” Burrows said in a recent interview. “But we have tremendous buying power and are trendsetters for mainstream markets, so our inherent knowledge and ‘boots on the ground’ can be a key advantage in running a franchise and mobilizing consumers and communities around our products and services. And that is very fulfilling on personal and professional levels.”

“It’s bringing a lot of things full circle, a lot of people are coming out and supporting and learning about the business, I have learned from folks who have had this dream and a lot of folks are curious about how to take the leap from corporate America into something entrepreneurial.”

Attending Florida A&M University on a “life-changing” scholarship, Burrows talks about the true diversity she experienced at this HBCU that gave her confidence and “an understanding of the history and greatness of African American culture.” Experiencing this true “melting pot” of diversity where Burrows saw folks who were first-and second-generation college students like herself alongside folks from successful, middle-class families, Burrows suggests this true diversity taught her more than the often tick box exercise of corporate diversity.

Clean Juice franchise founders Kat and Landon Eckles

In 2018 Burrows founded her own marketing consultancy firm, Principal Consultant. She jokes that this period allowed her to figure out what she wanted to do “when she grows up.” Consulting mid to small size businesses grants an extra insight into ways in which to conduct business. Of this leap, Burrows professes, I feel more present in my life, there is a community aspect of it and my children see me in a professional environment that is also very familial.”

“It’s bringing a lot of things full circle, a lot of people are coming out and supporting and learning about the business, I have learned from folks who have had this dream and a lot of folks are curious about how to take the leap from corporate America into something entrepreneurial.”

Be sure to check up the Clean Juice Sandy Springs here.

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