Putting your heart and soul into a business and doing what you love is how entrepreneurial journeys are ignited and sustained. And that’s exactly how Alexis Joseph of Hummusapien and co-founder of Alchemy Juice Bar + Cafe continues to live her life each and every day. Starting a business is all about the unknown, and as Alexis shows us, keeping an open mind and forming meaningful connections with others can sometimes lead to an unexpected new path!
How did your journey into building your nutrition lifestyle empire all start?
I never thought I would turn my hobby into a career…but why not? I decided freshman year to major in dietetics so I could go on to become a registered dietitian. I knew I was born to do something I was passionate about. I wanted to find a career path that was fulfilling, one that would be rewarding, one where I could be consistently helping others. Nutrition is so impactful on people’s lives and I love being a part of that!
Your love for plant-based eating is so apparent throughout your blog Hummusapien! How did that all come about?
I actually grew up eating meat and dairy like the rest of America. I had a pretty normal upbringing when it came to food. My mom would cook chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner, but she always taught me about ingredients and wouldn’t buy anything with “chemicals.” I became super inspired by plant-based eating after I took a trip to Israel the summer going into my junior year of college. I went on a 10-day trip called Birthright. I met a couple of inspiring vegan friends, was surrounded by beautiful produce, and ate at a bunch of vegetarian restaurants.
Ultimately, I did it for my health. I read tons of research (including some of the largest nutrition studies in history) on plant-based diets reversing chronic disease and ultimately being the most optimal diet for long-term health. I had never felt better, so I challenged myself to eat a vegan diet for a year. I of course went off course here and there, but overall, I learned how to cook with new-to-me foods and fell more in love with plant-based health. I don’t like to label myself, and I want to have the freedom to eat eggs or cheese or wild salmon when I’m in the mood without being patronized.
And this all led to you starting your very own juice bar and cafe, Alchemy! How did it all come about?
Hummusapien was a huge stepping-stone to getting where I am today. It basically personifies my passion for food, nutrition, and recipe development. Half of Alchemy’s menu is actually on my blog!
I went to college with one of the brothers that owns A & R Creative group, the company that co-owns Alchemy. As an undergrad at Ohio State, I became good friends with Abed, one of the brothers who owns A & R Creative group that I co-own Alchemy with. Abed and his family (A & R Creative Group) have opened a bunch of incredible restaurants here in Columbus, Ohio, including The Crest, The Market Italian Village, Ethyl and Tank, 4th Street Bar, and more! I served at The Crest throughout graduate school. We used to joke about opening a smoothie place since I hated that there wasn’t anywhere in Columbus to get a healthy (and tasty) smoothie.
Once I finished graduate school, Abed told me he was seriously considering making our vision a reality. Before I knew it, it was! My official title is co-owner and Director of Nutrition and Communications, but I have had the role as the general manager, chef, and dietitian. I have basically had my hands in everything, including managing the staff and operations, ordering, catering, directing communications, providing on-site nutrition counseling, and developing the menu. Now my role has changed to be more developmental and nutrition-focused as we grow the business. Alchemy has been the biggest challenge of my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
What really differentiates Alchemy is how you incorporate nutrition counseling as part of a food business. How did you come up with that idea?
We wanted to make nutrition accessible, so that’s where the personalized on-site nutrition counseling comes in. We’re intersecting two of the fastest growing industries in the U.S.—health care and food. I’m fortunate to be able to also do what I love, which is create amazing food that I believe in, impact people’s long-term health with personalized nutrition counseling, and engage with the media.
It’s so awesome to see how you cultivated your passion for a lifestyle into something that can be shared with so many others! Do you have any tips for your fellow dietitians as they forge their own entrepreneurial path?
There’s nothing more rewarding than knowing you’ve impacted some one’s life with nutrition education. Nutrition is so critical for long-term health. Our generation is plagued with chronic illness, and I consider it my job to help change those statistics. The bottom line is that I love helping people and I love food, so it’s a perfect match!
Find your niche and get involved in the community! What is your voice? What makes you love nutrition? Answering those questions is a great start. I also found that networking with other nutrition professionals (especially when I was a dietetic intern) was crucial for me. Don’t be afraid to reach out via email (or even via social media!) to dietitians who are doing interested things in the nutrition world. Ask to help! People are always looking for interns and it’s a great way to get to know leaders in the field.
Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey with us, Alexis!