Ginger Juice: It doesn’t get its name from a woman named Ginger, or the flavorful root vegetable. It comes from Erin Powell’s son, Sayer, and his bright red hair.

“My son wouldn’t eat fruits or vegetables, but turns out, he would drink them,” Powell, owner of Ginger Juice, the juicing and smoothie franchise in Richmond, said. “So I started juicing as a way to help increase his fruit and vegetable intake.”

While encouraging her toddler to try new foods, she was working at SnagaJob in Richmond, but soon decided she wanted to build a brand she could franchise. As she explored her career options, she decided to take the Mini MBA course at the Robins School.

“The Mini MBA was a good, well-rounded business snapshot for me,” Powell said. “I learned the importance of innovation, and was fascinated by the case studies we reviewed.”

The Mini MBA is a 14-week program through the Robins School department of Executive Education that gives professionals a practical foundation in business. Ginger Juice was a far off dream at the time, but Powell says the program gave her the tools she needed to take the next step.

“I hadn’t even started my business yet, but case studies on product development, and learning about good market strategy taught me so much and prepared me for creating Ginger Juice down the line,” Powell said.

Then in 2015, she opened her first Ginger Juice store right around the corner from University of Richmond, and served its students daily. It is still the only company in Richmond to have a certified cold press juicing machine, serving fresh, raw, unpasteurized juice with no added sugar.

It became so popular that she decided to expand, and moved to a new location in the Village Shopping Center. Since, she has opened two other locations in the Richmond region, one in Short Pump, and most recently one in Midlothian in March 2019. 

With her success, she has been ready and willing to give back to the Robins School, first by participating in a Women in Local Business panel in 2018, then by inviting students from the Robins Summer Business Institute to one of her locations this past summer.

“It is really cool to be able to come full circle,” Powell said.

The Summer Business Institute is a two week program for non-business majors to provide a background in business practices, held each year in the weeks after University of Richmond commencement.

Powell worked closely with Sara Hanson, assistant professor of marketing, to help students understand how she built Ginger Juice, and what it takes to be a successful small business owner in Richmond today.

“Erin is such an inspiring entrepreneur. It was so helpful for the students to hear her story and learn about how she is planning to expand the business,” Hanson said. “Prior to meeting with Erin, the Summer Business Institute class was able to work with some of the data from her company and discover ways to visualize and understand it. Having the chance to visit the Ginger Juice location and visit with the owner brought the students full circle in terms of learning about marketing, entrepreneurship, and data.” 

Hanson says Powell opening her doors to the students allows them to see real world application of business concepts and helps them get a better grasp of the material.

“I believe that connecting a human story to business topics is so important to solidifying students’ understanding,” Hanson said.

Powell agrees, and says that model in the Mini MBA helped her visualize how she could build her own business.

“The Mini MBA and my work at SnagaJob really encouraged my love for strategic planning and business planning,” Powell said, “and now, I get to share those experiences with current students. I’m doing strategic planning, creating another company, and growing the franchise.”

She is so grateful for the support from the University of Richmond and Robins School community in her growing business, and is thrilled to share her experience with students.

“It’s just so cool, the real world application of what you learned in the classroom,” Powell said. “You can put a plan on paper and have all these different best case and worst case scenarios, but putting it into practice, seeing what you need to do, and sharing it with others is the part that I love.”

Powell recently acquired the rights to open Ginger Juice franchise locations in 10 states across the country, and hopes to open 90 stores in the next five years. 

The Robins School is now enrolling for the Mini MBA and Robins Summer Business Institute. For more information, visit our Executive Education site.