After 11 years in the urban wilds of Manhattan, Manya Williams and her husband Josh were ready for some real wilderness and a slower pace of life. In spite of the intellectual and cultural opportunities and excitement of living and working in the city, they knew it was time for a change. Shortly after a visit to San Francisco, friends suggested they consider Bend as a possibility.
Following their intuition to explore the unknown, they took off for Oregon with their young son and spent two weeks exploring Bend. The adventure included a tour of 40 homes, and ended with the purchase of a house in the heart of Bend’s west side. “We knew right away we wanted to be here. As different as Bend is from New York, we felt inspired and instantly at home,” explains Manya. “The decision to move here did happen really fast, but it was a wonderful leap of faith.”
Following her intuition wasn’t always so easy however. “I learned the importance of listening to my inner voice the hard way, and hope I can help other women do that with more ease and grace,” she confesses.
Working in New York as a documentary film editor in her early 30s fulfilled her professional ambitions, but it came at a personal price. “I loved the work and the clients. Weaving stories together for others to bear witness to those experiences was extraordinary,” she says. “It also meant spending up to 16 hours a day in a dark room staring at a computer, and the pace started costing me my health and happiness. I couldn’t seem to find my way out of the cycle of working hard and playing harder. Something had to give, but I wasn’t paying attention to the warning signs.”
Finally, Manya hit her breaking point. “Hitting bottom is definitely one way to force change!” she admits. “I just wish I had known how to prevent myself from getting to that point in the first place.”
It was a five-day juice cleanse that made her realize how disconnected she had become from her body – and how good she could feel again. “It was like a secret door opened to a whole new level of awareness and understanding.” That awareness marked the beginning of a diverse new career as a certified Holistic Nutritionist, Hatha Yoga Teacher, and Birth & Labor Doula. She sought out acclaimed teachers and experienced mentors and did everything she could to learn about the Raw Food Diet, Healing with Whole Foods, Cellular Detox, Green Herbal Medicine and Ayurveda.
“I was obsessed with learning as much I could,” she laughs. “Insatiable.”
Her passions culminated in a successful practice as a health and wellness coach as well as the launch of JuiceWell in 2010, a fresh-pressed juicery in NYC. The concept was still new to the New York market, and JuiceWell thrived and expanded.
“Juicing is such an accessible way for people to start tuning into their own body wisdom. The problem is that doing it at home is time-consuming and overwhelming,” she explains. “We had a lot of success with JuiceWell by simply making raw, cold-pressed organic juice convenient and available.”
Though Manya sold JuiceWell in 2014 prior to her move to the west coast, she knew she wanted to bring the practice to Bend. Her wish was granted with perfect synchronicity when investors Phyllis and Ted Swindells approached Manya about creating a similar business in Central Oregon.
Like Manya, Phyllis had also discovered the benefits of juicing years ago. The practice became even more important after she developed an autoimmune disease in 2009. “Juice cleanses have played a key role in getting my health back,” she explains. “I was amazed at how I felt after a cleanse. My digestion improved, my inflammation decreased, and I was finally able to clear the brain fog I had been struggling with for years. I knew that eating organic, healthy foods was essential for getting better.”
The second aspect of her recovery was finding a more balanced lifestyle. She and her husband Ted decided to leave their fast paced life in San Francisco and relocate to Bend where they could slow down, be closer to nature, and cultivate a better life balance. Phyllis became a Certified Health Coach and a Certified Yoga Instructor, helping others regain their health and sense of well-being. And as a native Oregonian, Ted returned to his family roots with a renewed focus on projects in sustainable farming.
The move inspired them both. They also found their two worlds colliding, as Ted dove into learning about soil nutrients for healthy plants. “The fundamental science is the same,” says Phyllis. “Plants are susceptible to disease when they are nutrient deficient just like people. And when they have the right nutrients, they thrive. That’s why I have been such a proponent of raw juices for so long. They deliver a powerful boost of micronutrients that are incredibly beneficial to our health.”
The synergy also catalyzed some creative ideas about how to combine their businesses into a whole new venture. As Phyllis explains, “We wanted to establish a business that used locally grown, organic produce to make raw, cold-pressed juices for the Bend community.”
When a mutual friend introduced Phyllis and Manya, everything fell into place. “We share the same vision,” affirms Phyllis. The partnership launched shortly thereafter, and Juice Counter opened its doors in October 2015.
“I love creating this in Bend, “ says Manya. “We are such a health-conscious town, but I think we are still learning about the health benefits of juicing. We’re helping people integrate juicing into their everyday lives with awesome results.”
Phyllis couldn’t agree more. “That’s the best part of what we do.”