Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon had been taking herbs for years when, in 2006, she began seriously studying the power of raw medicinal foods to cope with a longtime hypothyroid condition and various food allergies. Little did she know, she was on the cusp of discovering a wellness niche as powerful as the ingredients she ingested.
“Amanda was a chef at the time and became really immersed in that space—and with her passion for using food and herbs for medicinal purposes, she opened the first Moon Juice shop in 2011 in Venice,” says Elizabeth Ashmun, president of the Los Angeles-based company. “It began as a hippie juice shop but very quickly evolved from that.”
Ashmun remembers that cold-pressed juices were still in their infancy; back then, Bacon patiently explained the benefits to curious customers. But the brand quickly built up a rabid following and began selling superherbs, supermushrooms and minerals with adaptogenic properties, which help the body cope with stress. Today, Moon Juice operates three locations in the Los Angeles area (Venice, Silver Lake and, most recently, on Melrose Place in West Hollywood), using local ingredients for juices, snacks and raw-food goodies. However, its main focus has pivoted to promising patrons beauty and wellness from the inside out—a mission that has swept a nation of newly minted health devotees always on the lookout for the next best well-being boost. It has also made Moon Juice one of the trailblazing leaders of the new beauty wellness market segment—one that is projected to grow.
“We still have the juice shops and sell Dusted Lattes, which include our herbs, as well as smoothies and other alchemized beverages,” Ashmun says. “But our focus today is internal beauty.”
EAT MY DUST
The journey from “hippie juice shop” to wellness innovator happened organically but rapidly. Beauty editors and beauty junkies alike quickly embraced the brand, clamoring for more info on adaptogens. The company met this demand with the intro of six Dusts—adaptogenic blends of superherbs, supermushrooms and minerals that are “benefit-led,” Ashmun says. “It’s like having an herbalist in a jar, because they’re appropriately blended for the benefit we’re offering—the adaptogens as well as the supporting herbs that balance them, so there’s no risk of someone taking the wrong herb. And consumers are becoming much more savvy on the importance of adaptogens as a preventative measure.”
“Everyone wants beauty benefits, and [customers are] beginning to understand the importance of beauty from the inside out.”
Versatile but in need of a delivery vehicle, the Dusts are easily added to coffee, smoothies, hot water or food; Bacon even introduced a cookbook with delectable recipes like Dusted Pancakes and raw chocolate bark. And, despite the initial rave reviews, all of the Dusts were reformulated and reintroduced in August, each now containing ashwagandha (an Ayurvedic herb) and improved flavor profiles. The Dusts’ ingredients are also carefully sourced—from organic farms, with a sustainable extraction process—to ensure the greatest potency.
Ashmun details each of the six Dusts and how they benefit the body and mind:
- Beauty Dust, the company’s top seller, promotes skin protection and hydration while reducing inflammation for an inner and outer glow. Ashwagandha helps increase resilience to stress; schisandra adds a sweet berry flavor and helps support and protect the liver; amla assists collagen production; prebiotic goji helps fuel growth of healthy gut flora; and pearl extract reduces the body’s heat, brightening the eyes. “This is the only one of our Dusts that's designed for long-term use,” Ashmun says. “Within 30 to 40 days, customers report stronger nails, faster-growing hair and great-looking skin. Everyone wants beauty benefits, and they’re beginning to understand the importance of beauty from the inside out.”
- Brain Dust enhances concentration and alertness. Energizing rhodiola boosts endurance and productivity, ashwagandha promotes calm focus (Ashwun calls it “edible meditation”) and maca root extract, rich in vital proteins and amino acids, sparks creativity. The smoky, bitter flavor profile blends well with coffee, smoothies, cereals and nut butters. “My husband has ADD, and now it’s a personal favorite for him; he wouldn’t start his day without it,” Ashwun says. “People notice an immediate benefit—though, as with all of the Dusts, everyone reacts differently, according to what their body needs and their body’s chemistry.”
- Sex Dust isn’t just about boosting libido; it’s an energizer that increases blood flow, opens the heart and encourages creative energy. Chock-full of adaptogens, the blend contains the aphrodisiac horny goat weed to increase circulation, shatavari (known as “nature’s Viagra”) to help with fertility and toning reproductive organs, shilajit extract to help with reproductive function, schisandra berry powder for detoxification and supporting minerals like cacao and maca. “We don’t tell those trying to get pregnant, already pregnant or nursing to use this, but our founder has used the recipe her entire life,” Ashwun says. “It’s something we feel both women and men can use as part of their daily routine.”
- Power Dust hikes energy and stamina, encourages recovery and reduces inflammation, thanks to a supermushroom called Cordyceps, used by elite athletes to assist emotional and physical recovery. Asian ginseng root powder restores vitality and replenishes energy levels, rhodiola helps with fatigue and motivation and astragalus, as a supporting herb, aids the immune system. “A lot of people use Power Dust before working out because it helps so much with energy and recovery,” Ashwun says. “I can tell the difference when I take it—I’ll run better and have more endurance, and I’m not a big runner!”
- Spirit Dust is all about mood enhancement—an herbal energizer that helps reduce fatigue and calm the mind. Reishi mushroom extract reduces irritability and supports the immune system, sage root stabilizes mood and supporting herbs like astragalus root, silk tree bark and longan berry extracts round out the blend that the company calls “edible joy,” Ashwun says. “This is great for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up or to simply to get your head in the right space.”
- Dream Dust features both ashwagandha and schisandra, lending a pleasant berry flavor, plus chamomile to reduce stress, soothe the stomach and reduce tension in the body. The Dust isn’t designed to help the user fall asleep, but it does encourage more restful sleep, thanks to its calming effects on mind, body and digestion, assisting in overnight detox. “When I take it, I get a great eight hours of sleep without waking up, which otherwise I tend to,” Ashwun reports. “We also tell people to use it while traveling to help with jet lag.”
The Dusts are packaged in 14-serving jars, or in boxes of individual-serving sachets. The Full Moon Box contains two sachets of each of the six Dusts—a top seller, as customers want to try all the varieties and experience the benefits firsthand. Even better, they’re safe to use in combination. “They’re balanced, so we tell people they can ‘double Dust’—use Sex and Spirit together in the morning, or use Beauty and Dream as part of a nighttime regimen,” Ashwun says.
With a wellness obsession taking root around the country, Moon Juice is looking ahead to further organic, yet strategic, growth. Recently, on the heels of the Dusts’ revamp, Moon Dusted Chocolates were introduced in September. At 50 calories each, they offer one full dose of herbs and a delicious, unique flavor profile (like Brain Dust’s Cacao Cardamom Cafe or Dream Dust’s Coconut Cream Chamomile). Made with raw, organic dark cacao and low-glycemic coconut sugar, they’re ideal for customers who don’t want to alchemize their own herbs, or simply want to enjoy benefits on the go. “They’re great as an entry point for those who aren’t accustomed to putting herbs into food or drink,” Ashmun says. “They’re so easy to use.”
Meanwhile, the Moon Juice shops continue to bank brisk business. Green juices, made without fruit, maintain a passionate following, as do locally made foods—think Strawberry Rose Geranium Bars and dried snacks, nuts and crisps that are raw, activated and health-conscious.
“Our stores are where the brand love and customer journey began, and it’s just continuing to spread,” Ashmun explains. “People constantly say, ‘We need one in New York’ or ‘Will you ship to me,’ and that’s why we’re focused on the Dusts, which we can put into broader distribution. If you can’t have our juice shop in your neighborhood, you can at least get in on the Dust!”
In addition to the shop available on its website, Moon Juice relies on premium distribution through carefully selected retail outlets: Free People and Urban Outfitters wellness locations, Saks Fifth Avenue, Net-A-Porter and premium grocery stores with strong wellness programs, like the Los Angeles-based Erewhon Market. In New York, the Edition hotel and Clover Grocery already carry Dusted Lattes on the menu—and, according to Ashmun, a Moon Juice shop in the Big Apple and other cities may be in the works. She also hints at a new national prestige contract in process for expanded distribution.
“As modern living gets more and more intense, adaptogens help your body adapt to, and cope with, those stresses.”
“We’ll continue to expand our reach and have a lot of retailers coming to us, but we want to be very selective about where we are. There’s an education process that’s still very important for consumers as they begin to understand more about adaptogens,” Ashmun says.
Meanwhile, for more advanced wellness junkies, Moon Juice offers its Modern Pantry, with single herbs and proteins, from Cordyceps to cacao. Ashmun says customers are a 50/50 split; half know exactly what herbs they need, while the other half crave education. Staff members can then query them on what they’re looking for or how they’re feeling, recommend the right blends or ingredients, and alchemize or customize something just for them.
“Once they know what they need, they can replenish their supply, and the most rewarding part of our job is hearing how these ingredients changed their lives or how they really felt a difference,” Ashmun says. “Everyone comes in for a different reason—fertility, fatigue or major medical problems—but once they’ve tried it, they quickly adopt.”
And, as a growing brand, the word continues to spread in impressive fashion. Moon Juice counts 135,000+ highly engaged followers on Instagram alone, while vocal celebrity followers include Karlie Kloss and Gwyneth Paltrow (who has featured Bacon on her own lifestyle site, Goop). Features have also cropped up in a who’s who of top consumer publications: W Magazine, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, InStyle and Vogue, to name a few.
The response, it seems, is matched only by the fervent Moon Juice team itself. “Everyone here is very passionate and super engaged. We all believe in Moon Juice,” Ashmun enthuses. “We’re tapping into the zeitgeist, as consumers know that beauty comes from the inside out, and the definition of wellness has expanded so much. We’re also much smarter today about preventative care and how what we ingest impacts our quality of life. Culturally, I think the U.S. consumer is ready and looking for additional education. As modern living gets more and more intense, adaptogens help your body adapt to, and cope with, those stresses.”