Most people only talk about pursuing their dreams. Jon Schiff '02, who used to suit up each day as a hedge fund derivatives trader on Wall Street, just made his a reality.
“I thought I wanted my dream job to be in finance, but the truth was, it wasn’t fulfilling,” Schiff said. “My body was telling me I needed to do something else. I wasn’t eating the way I wanted to, my body was super stiff and I wasn’t living the lifestyle I wanted.
“I was sitting behind a desk all day, not creating anything, and I really wanted to build something. Finance is great, it just wasn’t for me.”
So he made a drastic change and is now the owner of Real Good Juice. The Old Town Chicago business offers juices and smoothies that are “organic and locally sourced.” Schiff and his team cold-press the fruits and vegetables; their goal is to serve the healthiest product they can.
“I quit my job [in 2013] on a Monday and on that Wednesday I ended up volunteering on a farm in Illinois, trying to understand that business and culture,” Schiff said. “It was inspiring to work with people who were truly passionate about what they were doing and the values behind their trade.”
He took the lesson to heart with Real Good Juice.
“We’ve built a great team of people who believe in the longevity of our efforts,” Schiff said, “which is not just buying organic ingredients but understanding and knowing the farmers who provide them.”
The menu is sure to make you smile with selections like Juice Springsteen, Juice Bigalow, Whitney Juice-Ton, Juicille Ball and Juice Lee.
“All of our juices and smoothies have funny names,” Schiff said. “They all have health benefits but we wanted to simplify it to communicate their attributes. My favorite so far, the Punky Juice-Ster, is this wacky combo of matcha, almonds, chia, chlorophyll and mint. It keeps you youthful with the boundless energy of a wise-cracking, freckle-faced 12-year-old.”
His business continues to gain popularity and, now, profit.
August to December 2014 we were down mostly because of the weather, it was the coldest winter in Chicago’s history,” Schiff said. “We were break even for the first half of the year, but are finally starting to make money. It is such a great feeling to watch the business develop.”
Schiff credits much of his success to his undergraduate years.
“Union’s an amazing community, from the lacrosse team to the fraternity I was in, to the friends that I made there,” he said. “They teach you how to think strategically and think outside the box, to have an open mind. That’s what a liberal arts education really supports.”
It’s also what’s helped him become an entrepreneur with a bright future.
“We are building something more than one juice bar,” Schiff said. “What we have here is one business that we are going to replicate into another and another, not just in Chicago but other cities as well.”