Vancouverites and owners of MELU Juice & Health Bar combat “juicing” stigma with nourishing, energizing treats

MELU Juice & Health Bar is owned and operated by Vancouverites Angela Luo and Melissa Woo. Angela traveled the world before completing her Master’s Degree at Stanford University and moving to Vancouver to start her career. She was living on her own, working an office job and found it difficult to prepare a decent at-home meal – there was little time and little energy to spare! After eating out every day, Angela began feeling the impact of a diet that lacked fresh, wholesome foods. She then discovered juicing, which kick-started her nourishing journey.

Melissa is a mother of one and a Vancouver native. She received her business degree from Simon Fraser University and scored a good job right out of school. However, she soon realized her passion did not involve sitting at a desk! Instead, she wanted to practice culinary and pastry arts. She went back to school and developed a passion for nutritious food, combatting harmful ingredients and celebrating the eats we put into our bodies every day.

Together, Angela and Melissa make up MELU. The duo creates their thoughtfully, personally crafted menu of nourishing juices and treats that fuel and energize the body.

We caught up with Angela to learn more about the MELU brand and how it combats the stigmatized juicing craze.

1. Tell us about what inspired you to create MELU Juice & Health Bar. When and how did this journey begin?

MELU actually stands for the combination of the two owners’ names; it is hence a combination of our passion and expertise. I’ve been a huge advocate for cold-pressed juice and a juicer myself since my body could no longer handle caffeine, due to medical reasons, and my partner [is] a pastry chef and culinary expert.

2. How many people work for MELU right now?

We currently have 10 people working for MELU.

3. What is your role with MELU and what’s you favourite part of your job?

We do everything in MELU and each [of us] wears multiple hats. My favourite part [of my role with MELU] is chatting and creating relationships with customers.

4. What was your first job? What lessons from your first job do you apply to your role with MELU, today?

My first ever job was a tutor and I guess the most relevant skill that carried over is my ability to interact with people and to educate them in what I believe!

5. What makes MELU different from all the other juice bars that have popped up in Vancouver, and other parts of Canada?

MELU’s cold-pressed juices are made with a unique combination of interesting ingredients. My favourite is our Grapefruit Heartbeet which contains grapefruit, beets, pineapple, and mint. We also carry many other items like our Health Bars (raw, vegan, glutenfree with no processed sugar), hot meals and banana ice cream!

Health bars! Photo courtesy of: MELU Juice & Health Bar.
Health bars! Photo courtesy of: MELU Juice & Health Bar.

6. What is your favourite super food and why?

My favourite super food is chia seeds. [They] contain so many nutrients and fill you up with a very small [portion]. You can also create countless different recipes with them.

7. Your website talks a lot about finding inner happiness and peace along with becoming healthier people – why do these to components go hand in hand?

The bottom line is, if you learn to love yourself more and love your body more, you will eventually become more interested in achieving a healthier lifestyle.

8. What is your favourite social media tool to use for the MELU brand and how does this platform enhance your ROI and customer retention?

Instagram! [On this platform], it is easy to follow our hash tags, see customers’ photos of [our product] and their thoughts of their purchases.

9. What kind of social media strategy do you use?

Taking beautiful photos on Instagram! You can follow and be a part of  our story using the hashtag #melujuice.

10. Do you remember the first time you made a homemade juice or smoothie? Describe that experience to me (what was in the smoothie? What was going through your head?)

It was more than 10 years ago that I made my first smoothie. I used to drink the same thing everyday as my lunch for at least a year. I still remember…it had kale, one avocado, one banana, one apple and a handful of nuts! So filling and delicious! I still try not to have a solid meal for lunch and often substitute with just a juice or smoothie.

11. Where do you see MELU in five years?

Our vision is to lead more and more people into a healthier but uncompromising diet. We hope to also give back to the community by supporting other local businesses, organizations and individuals.

12. There is a lot of talk that juicing is “just a phase.” What does MELU do to try and change this perspective?

Our main focus and vision is not to persuade people into drinking juice, but to step into and maintain a healthier life style, which I think, will never be just a phase.

Take-away treats. Photo courtesy of: MELU Juice & Health Bar.
Take-away treats. Photo courtesy of: MELU Juice & Health Bar.

13. What’s the best part about owning and operating your own business in Vancouver?

It is the people! Starting MELU has connected me to so many amazing individuals, customers and small business owners. [All of these people] are so inspiring and supportive! We truly appreciate all the beautiful people that [have surrounded] us since our opening.

14. Where is your favourite place to go and explore in Vancouver? Why?

I love going on hikes! Vancouver offers so many beautiful hikes and each has its own magic.

15. What would you say is the hardest part of your job?

The hardest part of my job is to be able to find the right balance between my work and my personal life. Your business becomes everything and a top priority. It is very easy to neglect the other important aspects of your life – friends and family, and yourself.

16. Is there someone who continues to motivate and inspire you, today?

I think my business partner and I continue to motivate and inspire each other on a daily basis. We share the same goal and strive to improve together.

17. What would you tell to other up and coming Canadian entrepreneurs and business owners?

It is not as glamorous and easy as it seems to start your own business. You do have the luxury to control your own schedule, but ironically, your schedule becomes so restrictive because you become responsible for every action [involved in your business]. Be prepared for long hours (like 19 hour work days), zero vacation and endless tasks. But because of your passion, it doesn’t feel so bad.

18. Do you have anything else to add that our readers should know?

Try MELU! It does not disappoint! 

For more about MELU, check out their Facebook page! Thanks to Angela and Melissa for sharing the MELU story with our readers.

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