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Alaska Entrepreneurs Pt. 2: Acai Alaska
Original Air Date: November 1, 2012
Anchorage has received national accolades for the employment opportunities it offers it's citizens. City business leaders are aimed at making Anchorage the number one place to live, work, and play in the nation. Some young Alaska entrepreneurs are helping to make that dream a reality.
Acai is a tree largely cultivated in Brazil that produces berries with health benefits for any athlete and boosts immunity, perfect for Alaskans looking to stay healthy in the middle of cold and flu seasons.
Above all, owners of Acai Alaska CJ and Julia von Imhof, and their partner Joseph Lorenzen, say the acai bowls they offer are a mix of nutrition and flavor.
"Some parents tell their kids that it's ice cream to trick them, because it tastes so good, it tastes like it could be dessert, but nutritionally it's so good for you, you can eat it for breakfast," said Julia.
CJ was born and raised in Girdwood, while Julia came from Oregon, but they met in Hawaii and were inspired to bring the surfer's energy source to Anchorage locals.
Acai Alaska has brought the health and energy of the amazon to the last frontier since 2009. CJ and Julia said a positive and relaxed environment is one key to success.
"We've created an environment that's fun and enjoyable to us, and feels relaxed like we're back home in Hawaii, and we've kind of brough that to our customers so they feel welcome when they come in, almost like 'onhana' or family," said Julia.
"We try to bring a slice of 'aloha' we call it, right here in Anchorage," added CJ.
Acai Alaska uses organic frozen acai and blend it with a mix of fruits, nuts and other nutritional super foods without the need to use preservatives, additives or artificial flavors.
Long-time customers say Acai Alaska fills a special niche in Anchorage, making it the best choice for breakfast, lunch or any meal.
"People want to eat healthy, they try to eat healthy, there's not a lot of choices to eat healthy, and this is a great option. And they're really filling so I ate one bowl for lunch. It' s great," said customer Megan Bower.
CJ and Julia both gained experience by marketing for Red Bull, but used it to expand their own business. They say a fine balance of passion and discipline are the driving force to a successful organization.
"You definitely have to take initiative and be on top of your game, and you don't have someone riding you to make sure you're doing your job, so that's pretty much what it's like being a business owner, the buck stops with you," said Julia.
"Being passionate about health has helped drive us."