Leslie Zinn, Arden’s Garden
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s time for GWBC Radio’s Open for Business. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:18] Lee Kantor here live from the WBENC National Conference inside GWBC’s booth, Booth 1812, if you want to come by and see us. I’m so excited for our guest right now. It’s Leslie Zinn with Arden’s Garden. Welcome, Leslie.
Leslie Zinn: [00:00:32] Thank you. Glad to be here.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:34] Now, you’ve been keeping me hydrated and keeping me energized with a variety of potions and concoctions. How did you get involved with Arden’s Gardens?
Leslie Zinn: [00:00:43] Arden is my mother.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:45] Arden is your mother? Really?
Leslie Zinn: [00:00:47] So, I was brought in for free labor.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:48] So, you’ve been in that garden since birth.
Leslie Zinn: [00:00:49] That’s right.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:52] So, talk about, you know, kind of the genesis of the idea. How did that –
Leslie Zinn: [00:00:56] Yeah. Sure. So, my mom was a huge health nut all my life. She fed my brother and I the grossest combinations. And she always wanted a juicer called a Norwalk but it costs too much money. So, to make herself feel better, she got out her credit card and she bought it and she called all her friends and said, “I bought this incredible juicer. I want to use it. I’m going to give you juice.” So, that was how we started.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:19] And so, it started out just with a juice recipe she just invented?
Leslie Zinn: [00:01:23] She invented lots of different recipes, some that you would never, ever put in your mouth, like broccoli.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:30] So, you put it in your mouth.
Leslie Zinn: [00:01:31] I have. You will know when broccoli juice is being made from a mile away. There’s no doubt about that. But she came up with a lot of different combinations. Yep.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:40] So, she was involved in this kind of holistic health and wellness before it was cool.
Leslie Zinn: [00:01:45] Yeah. 1993.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:47] So, now, talk about the evolution of Arden’s Garden from her, I guess, juicer, her blender to what it is today.
Leslie Zinn: [00:01:55] So, a health food store opened in her neighborhood and they heard about her and they said, “Hey, come to the back of our store, we’ll give you the produce, you make the juice, and we’ll split the sales.” She thought, “Well, this is a homerun because I’m buying the produce and I’m giving the juice away. So, this is great.” But that little cold press was very, very labor intensive. So, she brought my brother and I in to help out with free labor. And that’s how we began.
Leslie Zinn: [00:02:19] But about nine months into that, we were not selling a lot of juice in that health food store, so we said to our mom, “Hey, go into Buckhead where people have money and try and sell this.” And she went to hair salons, which was not our idea. We were thinking like stock brokerage houses, lawyers offices. But my mother doesn’t think like normal people, and that decision turned our whole business around. Because hairstylists are stuck in their stations, they like things that are new and trendy. They always have a different customer in their chair and they have cash from tips. So, in three weeks she was selling 300 times the amount outside of that little health food store as we were and a business was born.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:59] So, now, the evolution of the business, is it a franchise? Is it you’re selling through other –
Leslie Zinn: [00:03:07] Yeah. So, we are totally family-owned, 100 percent woman-owned. We have 16 of our own retail stores in the Atlanta area and we also partner with Publix all throughout the southeast, Kroger in Atlanta, Whole Foods, Sprouts, a lot of different retailers.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:26] So, you decided not to be a franchise?
Leslie Zinn: [00:03:28] No. We’re not a franchise.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:29] Your eyes light up, obviously it was a strategic decision, but is there a reason behind that you wanted to be in more control over the entire operation and the brand?
Leslie Zinn: [00:03:41] Yes. We wanted to stick true to our mission, which was to make healthy products convenient and affordable. And we felt if we kept it in the family, we would drive my mother’s mission, which was to promote wellness.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:53] So, it’s family-owned still?
Leslie Zinn: [00:03:55] And it’s family-owned still.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:57] So, how do you see it kind of evolving and expanding? Or is it okay you’re just here in the local footprint and that’s okay?
Leslie Zinn: [00:04:04] I think we’re very happy where we are. But being at this conference has been eye opening for us. A lot of people have never heard of our company. We’ve been in business 27 years, they’re like, “Well, how can I get it in New Jersey? How can I get it in Texas? How can I get it in Chicago?” So, that’s going to be our next step, to figure out how we can provide them.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:23] And do you have any ideas?
Leslie Zinn: [00:04:24] Yes. We have new innovations. So, for example, we now introduced HPP, which is High Pressure Processing, which gives you a much longer shelf life without killing nutrients and keeping the taste. So, we have a lot more distribution capabilities, so we’re going to grow.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:42] So, you’re obviously starting it here in the southeast and then just expanding.
Leslie Zinn: [00:04:47] We are in six states right now. So, we want to get up to Virginia, up to D.C., up to New York, go along the eastern seaboard.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:56] Are you still partnering with hair salons? Is that still part of your –
Leslie Zinn: [00:05:00] No. We are not partnering with hair salons. We love them. We will be forever grateful to those hairstylists, but we are not partnering there.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:08] So, through grocery stores and things like that?
Leslie Zinn: [00:05:10] Grocery stores, specialty stores, and then we also have our own retail stores. So, when you walk into one of our stores, we have a lot of plant-based foods that are very perishable. And we like to pride ourselves on being an oasis of health. So, if you don’t know how to start your health journey, come to one of our stores and we’re going to help you.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:29] So, education is part of the mission as well.
Leslie Zinn: [00:05:32] Huge. Huge.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:33] Now, why was it important to get certified and be part of GWBC?
Leslie Zinn: [00:05:38] Well, we had been women-owned for 26 years.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:42] I know. But to be certified is another thing.
Leslie Zinn: [00:05:44] That’s right. We didn’t really know, honestly. And we didn’t know the benefits of being woman-certified. And a juice company kind of fills a different little niche, but it’s been very helpful. We’ve been introduced to some partners that we would not have had an introduction to, so it opened the door.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:00] Did it help in regard to getting into, like, the grocery stores and the larger chains and things like that?
Leslie Zinn: [00:06:05] It did. What it did is it opened the door and then we got the interview.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:11] The product, that’s going to sell itself, right? It’s just the opportunity –
Leslie Zinn: [00:06:16] Right. That’s exactly what it did, is, it open doors for us.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:20] So, how has the conference been? So, you said you’re meeting people. Was that a no-brainer to actually have a booth here as opposed to walking around?
Leslie Zinn: [00:06:28] It was a no-brainer because we’re an Atlanta-based business and it was in Atlanta.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:33] So, that is why.
Leslie Zinn: [00:06:33] Yes. I mean, in 27 years, we’ve done one conference. This is our second.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:40] Right. So, that’s a big change, though, for you to do a conference in this manner.
Leslie Zinn: [00:06:44] Yeah. It’s a big change. It’s very exciting. Because we’re used to selling to the same people, so to have new eyes –
Lee Kantor: [00:06:51] Right. Your regulars, right?
Leslie Zinn: [00:06:52] Exactly. So, to have new eyes on our product, be really enthusiastic. It pumps us up.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:57] Right. It gets you fired up. The opportunity is endless, really. Now, in the booth, I got to taste a tiramisu concoction. Talk about that. That is a new offering of yours. Or is it just being tested here?
Leslie Zinn: [00:07:13] It’s going to go into our stores, into our retail stores. So, our major push is to offer more plant-based foods because we cannot live on juice and smoothies alone. And I’m plant-based, I don’t like to cook, I want to go somewhere and just be able to buy something that’s healthy. So, we have a major initiative to expand our product offerings in our retail stores.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:36] And then, how did you pick tiramisu as the recipe?
Leslie Zinn: [00:07:41] We tried a lot of different ones.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:43] What are some of the ones that didn’t make it?
Leslie Zinn: [00:07:47] Strawberry cheesecake.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:48] Strawberry cheesecake couldn’t?
Leslie Zinn: [00:07:50] No.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:51] No broccoli cheesecake? It didn’t make it either?
Leslie Zinn: [00:07:53] Not yet. But, listen, there’s a juice over there that hasn’t made it yet, but it’s going to make it, and it’s called the Kalenator.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:01] Kalenator. Okay. Keep your eyes open for the Kalenator in a market near you.
Leslie Zinn: [00:08:05] That’s right. That’s right.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:06] So, right now, can people buy Arden’s Garden online or it’s only in the store?
Leslie Zinn: [00:08:11] They can. They can buy online. They can come into a grocery store. They can come into one of our retail stores.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:16] And then, the website?
Leslie Zinn: [00:08:18] The website is ardensgarden.com.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:20] Well, Leslie, thank you so much for sharing your story today. And I’m so fortunate to be next door to you here in the booth and get to sample some of the great stuff over here. And for any of the folks listening, make sure you check out an Arden’s Garden near you, even if you just have a question about plant-based kind of what’s out there.
Leslie Zinn: [00:08:38] Please. We would love to have you, for sure.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:38] You want to be a resource to the community. It’s not just about selling juice.
Leslie Zinn: [00:08:44] That’s Arden 100 percent.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:46] All right. Well, Leslie, thank you again for sharing your story.
Leslie Zinn: [00:08:48] My pleasure.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:49] All right. This is Lee Kantor broadcasting live from WBENC National Conference 2022 inside GWBC booth, right next door to Arden’s Garden. Back in a few.
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is a leading non-profit organization dedicated to helping women-owned businesses thrive.
We believe diversity promotes innovation, opens doors, and creates partnerships that fuel the economy. That’s why we not only provide the most relied upon certification standard for women-owned businesses, but we also offer the tools to help them succeed.
The Greater Women’s Business Council (GWBC®) is at the forefront of redefining women business enterprises (WBEs). An increasing focus on supplier diversity means major corporations are viewing our WBEs as innovative, flexible and competitive solutions. The number of women-owned businesses is rising to reflect an increasingly diverse consumer base of women making a majority of buying decision for herself, her family and her business.
GWBC® has partnered with dozens of major companies who are committed to providing a sustainable foundation through our guiding principles to bring education, training and the standardization of national certification to women businesses in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.