Creator of Gojiccino Jen Low shares refreshing insights on combining creativity with business sense

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Jen Low is the creator of Gojiccino and Beverage Director at Beveragist Co. She is also a recipe developer, cookbook author and TV chef.

Jen Low’s success is grounded in exploring new ideas and taking measured approaches. Self-described as “engaged, curious and grounded”, she “doesn’t get carried away easily”. As a result of her balanced approach to entrepreneurship, Low has built a successful business with focus and purpose.

Within 3 years, the Ancaster based company offering a healthy beverage option has grown exponentially. Low’s signature product is called Gojiccino, an all-natural goji concentrate that baristas use to craft several kinds of hot and cold drinks. It is sold to cafes, juice bars and eateries with health-conscious clientele. Goji is well-known as high-antioxidant superfood and goji berries are excellent for cell repair, eye health and energy.

Gojiccino Latte- (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Low/Gojiccino)

Gojiccino Latte- (Photo courtesy of Colleen Nicholson/Gojiccino)

“Gojiccino contains nothing artificial, so it is really pure and wholesome.”

According to Low, Gojiccino is the only product in the world that turns goji into a latte. With growing sales from companies such as Whole Foods, Fresh, The Big Carrot, Kupfert & Kim, Nature’s Emporium and many others, Gojiccino is now expanding into Quebec. In addition, the company is looking to develop partnerships across different parts of the world, as more inquiries keep pouring in from all over Canada, United States, Australia and Italy.

“I think of Gojiccino as “goji espresso” (but with no coffee). It’s the “coffee” for the juice generation.”

Iced Gogiccino- (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Low/Gojiccino)

Iced Gogiccino- (Photo courtesy of Colleen Nicholson/Gojiccino)

Jen Low plays a pivotal role in the overall operations of the company from product development to overseeing product quality, sales and marketing. “I’m a hands-on artisan part-time. At other times, I’m meeting with buyers, working with graphic designers, organizing product demos, etc. I delegate the daily logistics and finance-related tasks — but I do keep abreast of what’s happening in those areas. I always have a bird’s eye view over the whole business.”

Gojiccino juice in a bottle- (Photo courtesy of Colleen Nicholson/Gojiccino)

Gojiccino concentrate in a bottle- (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Low/Gojiccino)

Born and raised in Vancouver, Low moved to Toronto after completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at University of British Columbia. After a brief career in journalism, Jen enrolled in culinary management training at George Brown College. After that, she worked as the food editor for a national magazine and consulted for food companies, before starting her own beverage business.

“With hindsight, it seemed inevitable I’d run my own food company. It brings together so many things I find compelling: new ideas, building things from the ground up, communication, healthy eating, meeting new people…”

Jennifer Low, Maker of Gojiccino- (Photo courtesy of Jen Low)

Jennifer Low, Maker of Gojiccino- (Photo courtesy of Jen Low)

Jen says food was a big part of her life growing up, as she recalls “we had a large backyard garden that provided a lot of fruits and vegetables: plums, zucchini, leafy greens, herbs, marrow, tomatoes, strawberries, onions, goji berries, you name it! Growing food, harvesting food, cooking food — these were part of our daily life.”

In addition to fostering Low’s passion for food, she also credits her parents for nurturing her creative spirit.

“I think it’s important to live life as if it’s an exercise in creativity.”

She fondly reflects about her late dad saying, “ …he had a whole-hearted approach to everything and always wanted to do things in a more interesting way. He would weave creativity into all facets of his everyday life. Even simple things were an opportunity for him to challenge himself. He once built us kids a bunny cage. But he designed it himself and made a removable tray for easy cleaning. He loved coffee so he tracked down a wholesaler to sell him some directly — nobody did that back then; it was way before coffee aficionados were on trend!”

Jen’s passion for food and family is palpable and Illuminessence is honoured to share excerpts of our insightful interview with the accomplished entrepreneur!

Motivation for success

I don’t think about “success”. I just try to live the most interesting life I can. I guess that’s why I’m an entrepreneur. Each day holds new and different challenges. And I get to meet new people all the time, which I love.

On being an empowered woman

An empowered woman is simply one who is clear about her goals and stands by them. Everything else falls into line after that.

Proudest professional Achievements

My proudest professional achievement as an entrepreneur is, for sure, creating Gojiccino. My company is pioneering a new beverage category that offers a healthy option. We feel really excited by that! We also get the most amazing fan letters. Yes, fan letters from customers! When people go out of their way to send positive feedback, that’s really gratifying for a food artisan.

Challenges faced in business and leadership

When you’re at the helm of your own business, you are your own best champion as well as worst critic. So you have to know when to be one and when to be the other. It can be tricky.

Maintaining work/life balance

I don’t try to maintain work/life balance. I run my life on a priority basis: what’s most important at the moment, gets done first. I have kids so I really think it’s important for them to see that mom works. But they don’t think for a minute, that just because I’m busy, that they’re not loved to pieces or are less important. My mom also worked. I didn’t ever feel second best. I thought of our family as a “team” and we all had different jobs — parents work, kids go to school, etc. But we’re all part of one busy team. I run my own family life the same way. In fact, in our kitchen I have a little water-colour of some passengers bobbling around in a little sail boat on the sea. I’ve said to my kids, “That’s us. We might get tossed around in a crazy storm, but we’re all in the same boat!”

Balancing ‘passion’ and ‘business’

I think there’s another kind of balance that women in business need to be mindful of. And that’s the balance between “passion” and “business”. You hear a lot about “following your passion” these days. Finding it seems to be the subject of many a self-help book. But it can be an oversimplification.

“Passion isn’t everything. It’s easy to follow your passion if it’s your hobby. But it’s a whole other thing when you also make it your business.”

It’s important not to confuse the two. Just because you love doing or making something does not necessarily mean it should also be your work. It has to make business sense.

Advice for aspiring young fem-leaders?

I don’t have advice to offer. I think every person has to craft their own personal set of guidelines. So maybe that’s my advice: don’t follow someone else’s advice, follow your own instincts. Because we don’t lead cookie-cutter lives — at least we shouldn’t. You know what’s going to work best for you. Do it!

“Do as many interesting things as you can fit into a day. And try to be nice to everybody”

Charitable Work and Community Involvement

My charitable work comes through my cookbooks. I’ve written a couple best-sellers and a portion of proceeds goes to Save the Children and Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Canada. As for Gojiccino, we make free products available for community functions where our clients are donating time or goods.

Hobbies and Personal Interests

Yoga/pilates, travelling (Recent trips: New York City, Dubai, France is next…), visiting supermarkets in foreign countries (They’re true windows into the local culture!) and watching documentaries (food, business & biographies rank high).

May-Marie is driven by passion and purpose to tirelessly promote social change, diversity, equity and women's empowerment in both her personal and professional endeavours.

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