APP’s Small Business Innovator Awards Honors Juice Basin

The following appeared in Asbury Park Press’s website:

Juice Basin is certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It sells its products for $5 to $11 a bottle. It sells to Whole Foods Market and Englewood Hospital, and it has retail locations in Asbury Park and Montclair, with a third, Jersey City, set to open in June.

It opened in Asbury Park, taking a chance on the city before its redevelopment took hold. And it expects $500,000 in sales this year.

Why didn’t I think of that: Flimlin and her husband, Enrique Wegel, both were working at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, but they decided to stay home the morning of the terrorist attacks so they could see their son off to school. Wracked by survivor’s guilt, Flimlin took a year off before deciding to pursue yoga training. She opened Yoga Basin, a studio in Asbury Park, in 2009 and began offering cold-pressed juice to her clients.

“We had this hot yoga studio with juices in the coolers, and then all of the sudden in the dead of winter in Asbury Park, where nothing was going on down there that time of the year back then, you’d see these gorgeous Mercedes pull up and Jaguars and women would run in right to the cooler and clear it out and leave,” Flimlin said. “And I was like, what is going on? And then we realized we were the only ones doing cold-pressed in the state of New Jersey.”

Financial obstacles: Flimlin and Wegel walked away from Yoga Basin and nearly $80,000 they put into it and relied on friends and family to refurbish the Fourth Avenue building, buy equipment and build the business, she said.

And she has formed partnerships to keep expenses low. Her landlord in Jersey City turned down higher offers from other tenants because he thought Juice Basin would contribute to the city’s wellness — and increase property values.

Flimlin has no second thoughts about leaving the yoga studio for the juice business, particularly in Asbury Park. “I was giving jobs to yogis that were floating all over the place, and my husband and I were working in the café,” she said of Asbury Park. “How am I going to build that? I’m not going to build that. That’s not going to sustain this community.”

Judge’s comment: Kerri Martin, owner, Second Life Bikes in Asbury Park: “They had to take a chance of reinventing themselves and moving (away from the business district around Cookman Avenue) and maybe going out to the people instead of waiting for people to walk in and get a juice. Very impressed with their versatility and flexibility.”