Harnessing the ‘power of plants’ for healthier living
After the stress of his previous job left Scott Harris worn down, he turned to raw juice. Today, he’s promoting the benefits of juicing — which he says is a healthy option for consuming more fruits and vegetables — through his company, Viva Raw.
Editor’s note: A priority for Wells Fargo is helping customers on their journey to better financial health. And, for many of the bank’s customers that own a business, their focus is on helping improve the physical health of their clients. In our new “Healthy Living” series, we will showcase how several of these small businesses are trying to help people lead healthier lives.
As the summer months approach, it seems that every magazine at the checkout line professes “10 easy tips for a better beach body” or reveals some celebrity’s “secret to a stunning weight loss.”
For many people, however, the goal of living a healthier life — whether that means fitting into a bathing suit or just striving to feel better every day — doesn’t start with the arrival of the warmer months. But with work, family, and other commitments taking precedence, the demands of day-to-day life often prevent those goals of eating better or exercising more from coming to fruition.
This was the case for Scott Harris, who noticed that his hectic schedule was having a negative impact on his health. So he left behind his 15-year career and sought out ways to improve his physical and mental well-being — and ultimately opened his small business, Viva Raw.
“When I left my previous job, I had a few minor health issues that left me feeling pretty tired all the time,” said Harris. “So I started this journey of trying to figure out how to feel better without taking medication.”
Harris began to consume raw juice as a supplement to his diet and noticed that, “little by little, I started feeling more energetic again, was resting better, and less anxious.”
When his juices — and his improved health — started to gain a following among his friends and family, Harris began to think he might have found his next career. After witnessing the booming juice bar scene on a trip to California, he returned home to Charlotte, North Carolina, and opened Viva Raw in 2011.
“We believe in the power of plants because of the wide variety of vitamins and minerals they have, and especially in a raw form, all of those delicious vitamins and minerals are unadulterated, raw, pure, not altered — so the body absorbs them at a really high rate,” said Harris.
‘An apple a day...’
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports that a typical American diet exceeds the recommended limits for calories, refined grains, sodium, and saturated fat — and contains less than the recommended amounts of vegetables and fruits.
Harris said he sees firsthand how his customers are attempting to change this trend and improve their health through more conscious consumption.
“More and more people are becoming aware of what they are putting in their bodies, and one of the best things folks can do is to move more toward a plant-based diet,” said Harris. “But a lot of people think that in order to eat healthful, they have to eat ‘cardboard’ or raw carrots.
“Viva Raw shows people that it is possible and easy to be both healthy and to enjoy the food,” he added.
That message is resonating with customers, Harris said, and business continues to grow. He’s working with his Wells Fargo banker, Scott McMahon, on financing options to purchase real estate and equipment so the company can expand its production, product offerings, and distribution.
“Scott’s personal background in finance has given him a strong foundation for managing his small business, including his ability to look at things long-term,” said McMahon. “When he moved his company’s entire banking needs to Wells Fargo last year, it gave us the ability to really see his current state and work with him on business planning for the next three to five years.”
Now, as Viva Raw continues to develop new products — vegan, plant-based ice cream or cheese, anyone? — Harris said he is excited for what the future holds and how his company is helping the local community find healthy alternatives.
“We all know that eating more fruits and vegetables is good for us, but it’s also easier said than done,” said Harris. “Juicing is a delicious, convenient way to return the body to its natural balance by giving it easy access to nature’s most potent super foods.”