Profiles in Black entrepreneurship: Bringing healthy food to the community
Photos by Kenney Ellison
For Chris Goode, owner of Ruby Jean’s Juicery in Kansas City, he credits his drive to be an entrepreneur to his father. While his mother’s side of the family held traditional 9-5 jobs, Goode says his father has always been a serial entrepreneur opening a series of businesses including convenience stores, a nightclub, a construction company, and a health food store.
“[There’s] a certain lever an entrepreneur has that drives them past the point of comfortability. I think he gave me the ability to push past that,” says Goode.
While Ruby Jean’s is Goode’s first brick and mortar business, his journey into entrepreneurship began with a marketing and entertainment company. While running that business, he was also working a corporate job as a catastrophe claims adjuster and traveling a lot for work. As travel picked up, that business naturally came to a close but Goode’s drive to be his own boss and build another company didn’t leave him.
As the Ruby Jean’s Juicery story goes, Goode named his new business after his grandmother after seeing her battle health issues at the end of her life attributed to an unhealthy diet. In her memory, his business offers healthy juices and snacks in an inclusive space for the local community, hoping to share its passion for healthy eating and drinking.
“I went to daycare right across the street. It’s home,” says Goode of Kansas City and his location on Troost Avenue—an area where he is often credited for spurring economic development and investment after opening his shop. For Goode, it was a natural decision to come start his business in Kansas City, open that location, and be able to positively impact the community through food.
“Where we sit, there’s never been anything 100% healthy on this entire side of the city. When the idea hit, I knew it had to happen at home because of the void.”
Goode explains that juice bars are more often seen in affluent neighborhoods and can feel judgmental for a first-time customer. But, he says, healthy food should be for everybody, no matter what you look like. He created Ruby Jeans to fill that void and introduce his neighborhood, and hometown, to healthy food in a welcoming and inclusive way. In fact, during our conversation, Goode pauses to offer a free fresh bottled juice drink to a teenaged boy walking down the sidewalk.
Ruby Jean’s Juicery currently has two locations, the one on Troost and a juice bar inside a local Whole Foods, and Goode is working on further expansions, including the first location in Kansas. As one of the participants in H&R Block and the Urban League of Greater Kansas City’s program for Black-owned businesses, Goode is focused on growth.
“When you come into a business undercapitalized from the very beginning, you’re always chasing. Always trying to create solvency,” says Goode. “To get support from the brand the magnitude of H&R Block and an organization as intentional as the Urban League, it’s the best of both worlds.”
One of the lessons the program has taught Goode is around fiscal responsibility and seeing his business in a new light. “Looking at our businesses through the lens of a CFO, when none of our companies have a CFO, but being able to see it from that lens is powerful.”
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