BUSINESS

Oxford native works to improve community health with Juva Juice

Juva Juice manager serves Oxford citizens by offering healthful food and drink options

Kim Vassar in front of Juva Juice, photo by Ford Werness, Oxford Stories.

Ford Werness
Oxford Stories
fbwernes@go.olemiss.edu

Juices, bananas, mangos and more fly around the blender within seconds as a delicious, healthy treat is created. While Mississippi often lacks restaurants that offer healthful food options, you can order a rejuvenating smoothie at Juva Juice, a Mississippi original.

Meet Kim Vassar, 27, manager of the only Juva Juice within 50 miles.

“Growing up, I always envisioned myself being successful at something,” said the Oxford native. “For a while, I had no clue what that something was, but I knew I wanted to make a name for myself.”

Throughout her days at Oxford High School, Vassar dreamed of being a photographer, snapping pictures of the world’s most famous people doing the most incredible things.

“But it just didn’t happen,” she said.

Her interests changed when she enrolled at the University of Mississippi majoring in journalism with hopes of becoming a prominent writer. But after a few semesters, Vassar knew journalism was not the right path for her.

“I remember changing my major three or four times,” Vassar said as she laughed. “I just didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

Vassar graduated from UM with a degree in psychology, although she was still unsure of her destiny. After more than a year of working at Chick-fil-A, she received an interesting call. Her former manager was now the manager at Juva Juice, not even a mile away.

“I saw my phone buzz,” she said. “As soon as I answered, he told me he was being promoted and asked if I wanted the manager position at Juva,” said Vassar, who accepted the position.

(Vassar whips up a smoothie for her customers, photo by Ford Werness, Oxford Stories)

Vassar has been managing Juva Juice since 2016, nearly as long as it has been open.

“It’s really taught me to be humble and appreciative of having a job,” she said. “On top of managing a successful shop, it’s given me an insight on how nutrition can affect your mental health and outlook on life. But just like in life, Juva is always changing.”

Over the years, Juva Juice has broadened its menu. At first, it was simply a smoothie shop. Now Juva Juice sells their own protein bites, bars and unique juices.

“That’s the real moneymaker,” said Vassar. “Our juices are, without a doubt, our largest profit.”

(Vassar pointing towards one of Juva Juice’s signs, photo by Ford Werness, Oxford Stories)

Vassar’s personal favorite is the Underground, which includes apples, carrots, beets, lemons and ginger. Throughout her almost three years of working as the manager of Juva Juice, her sense of pride doesn’t come from the amount of money she makes or the title of her job.

“I take a lot of pride in educating people to live a healthier lifestyle,” she said. “I love helping others become aware of the things they are putting into their body. You learn a lot from working with fruits and vegetables.”

Employee Mariesa Sesin agrees that they want to help others become more healthy. “Our mission is to educate everybody within the communities that we’ve been given the privilege to serve,” she said, “and that’s something uncommon these days.”

(Juva’s ordering counter, photo by Ford Werness, Oxford Stories)

Since establishing the Oxford business in June of 2016, Juva Juice remains homegrown, as they have yet to open up shop outside of Mississippi. Locations outside of Oxford include Tupelo, Starkville and Columbus.

Vassar hasn’t always known exactly what she was was destined for, but she knew it included two things – to be successful and to make a positive impact on her community. Through Vassar’s time at Juva Juice, she has accomplished a lifelong dream.


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