by Elizabeth Turnbull
At the entrance of Pike Place Market, next to Ellenos Greek Yogurt and across from where the fish are thrown, one woman and her family pour organic fruits, vegetables, and joy into the lives of Seattleites and tourists who visit the Black-owned business rōJō Juice.
“Customers say that the music that we play, the energy that we give literally like … gets them out of bed,” Rhonda Faison, the owner of rōJō Juice, told the Emerald. “… and whether they buy a juice or not they just love to be around rōJō and the energy.”
The drinks are made using a cold press process where organic vegetables and fruits are ground down and then pressed into a cloth. Without any added ingredients or sugar, the juice remains in a pure form — extracted from the produce, which Faison goes to great lengths to ensure is fully organic.
“Most people tell you that they’re selling organic but they’re not. But I know that I can be true and look someone in the eye and say this is 100% organic and natural and I don’t add anything to it,” Faison said. “You get people who have never had a real fruit juice or real vegetable juice and they’re trying it for the first time and they’re just in amazement because the orange juice that I make is not like the Tropicana that you can find at the grocery store.”
As a child, Faison decided she wanted to become a doctor and at the same time had an interest in cooking, idolizing chefs like Martha Stewart. As an adult, Faison worked for some time in the health care field before starting her juicing business in 2020 after her brother became physically ill.
Beginning a business during a global pandemic and at a time when many long-standing businesses have been forced to shut down, Faison has had to remain resilient, drawing from personal strengths she had to build to survive outside of the global health crisis.
“I think as a Black woman and a Black business owner, it’s hard anyways just maneuvering in this world,” Faison said. “Operating my business during this chaotic time, I don’t know … I’m always trying to be positive and you can only do what you can at that point in time. And you have to be very resourceful and learn how to pivot, so honestly it’s been great for me — very challenging. I like the challenges.”
As the days grow shorter and the anxiety around winter looms, listen for the sound of classic ’70s hits and see if you can find yourself a cup of organic joy right at the entryway of Pike Place Market, across from where the fish are thrown.
With or without her joyful juice, Faison hopes that fellow Seattleites recognize the strength it has taken for all of us to survive the pandemic and that people in the community continue to rely on each other.
“To all the people out there who are making it through the pandemic, I commend you all,” Faison said. “… I think what can be consistent is just for us to be kind to one another.”
Elizabeth Turnbull is a journalist with reporting experience in the U.S. and the Middle East. She has a passion for covering human-centric issues and doing so consistently.
📸 Featured Image: Rhonda Faison, owner of rōJō Juice. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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