Healthy food can be delicious too according to Kerry O’Neill, creator and co-owner of Kali O’s Juicebox. After traveling and living abroad (?? Hawaii), Kerry knew it was her mission to bring nutritious and yummy food back home to New Jersey (Editor’s note: and insta-worthy to boot). Her vision became a reality when she teamed up with her younger sis and opened Kali O’s Juicebox together in Point Pleasant selling acai bowls, smoothies, and juice cleanses – which lucky for us, offers fall and pumpkin spice blends. One of her biggest missions? Sourcing high quality food that tastes equally delicious. Kerry gave us the low down on how living in Hawaii inspired her vision for Kali O’s, an insider’s perspective on how Superstorm Sandy rocked her hometown, and some of the fun #NJMOM adventures she’s planning with her new baby to The Hive and Seed to Sprout this fall.
Co-owner of Kali O’s Juice Box & NJMOMpreneur: Kerry O’Neill
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Kerry: At Kali-O’s Juice Box, we offer nutritionally dense, whole and healing foods in the form of smoothies, juices and smoothie bowls. We don’t believe in sacrificing flavor for health, we think you can have the best of both worlds so we hand pick and curate our menu using only clean and simple, whole ingredients. Earth’s fruits and vegetables are flavorful and sweet enough, there’s no need for added sugars and preservatives. We truly love creating new concoctions based off of seasonally and locally available produce. We strive to have options for everyone; catering to all preferences, allergies and dietary restrictions.
Give yourself some grace on the journey and know that it will not be easy, but it will all be worth it in the end because you followed your heart. – Kerry O’Neill, founder of Kali O’s Juice Box
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Kerry: Traveling the world (3 years living in Hawaii and traveling abroad for 15 years), I became more aware of the food choices that were out there and the choices that weren’t readily available. Seeing how many healthy and still delicious options there were for food throughout the rest of the world really made me question why the east coast was so behind on what seemed to be this worldly secret. From health issues to dietary restrictions it became difficult for me and so many others around me to find options for dining out around my hometown.
When I grounded my roots here in NJ, I decided to be proactive and open up a place that truly represented the lifestyle that I cultivated while exploring the world. I built a little vision of a fresh, healthy and delicious future for myself and my hometown. After hearing about my vision, my sister jumped on board and Kali O’s was born.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Kerry: My favorite part of Kali-O’s is hearing feedback about how delicious our food and drinks are. I love surprising people that healthy can, in fact, taste good too. After introducing our juice cleanses last year I love hearing feedback from friends, neighbors, and customers about just how amazing and alert they feel after trying one of the cleanses. People are not just “dieting”, they are learning to really listen to their bodies and be aware of how healthy changes make all the difference.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Kerry: While I have held many jobs and worn numerous hats over the last 21 years, I would have to accredit my expertise in running a small business mostly from sheer experience. I have worked for and alongside my family for over 20 years in a small business. I started working when I was 13 for my parents at Colonial Bakery in Lavallette, NJ. Over the years we learned from experience what it took to succeed and to grow as a family-owned and operated business. My brother, sister and I now own and operate the Colonial Bakery (currently two locations) and continue to run it as a small mom and pop shop.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Kerry: This August, Kali-O’s celebrated 5 years as a company. It’s an exhilarating feeling to remember the very start, building our front counter with our own hands and hanging up our chalk menu in preparation for opening day, the summer after Superstorm Sandy rocked the Jersey shore. After the storm, everything we had ever known was literally destroyed in front of our eyes. It wasn’t just the buildings that housed our businesses which were compromised greatly, but our homes and the communities surrounding them. During a time of uncertainty and fear, I like looking back on that fact that we didn’t give up and that we used it as an opportunity to mend our existing situations and also launch a brand new business adventure.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Kerry: Hmm this is a tough one, I guess very few people know that design is a passion of mine and if I could spend my days curating beautiful spaces, that’s what I would do. It makes me smile. My husband and I just recently gutted and renovated our first home, and while its a never-ending project for sure, it has been such a cool adventure planning (and executing) every little detail and element of design. I am also an intuitive cook. I thrive on throwing things together and creating whole nutritious meals out of whatever is in the pantry (or garden) at the time. I’m the worst at following recipes, anytime I try I inevitably wind up straying at some point. I love just throwing a “little of this and a little of that” until it’s just right.
NJMOM: What can we expect from you next year – personally and professionally?
Kerry: Personally, the next year is just going to be all about change and adapting to a new addition to our little family. My husband and I are expecting our first child in early September and we are so excited to see what new adventures this will bring. I expect that things will shift into place as they are meant to and I am really looking forward to seeing this world in a new and exciting perspective as a mom.
Professionally, the sky’s the limit. I am constantly dreaming of new and exciting ways to grow and expand. My sister is notorious for constant reality checks when it comes to this, but we both like to see how far we can go, so you never know what a whole new year can bring.
NJMOM: What charitable cause are you most passionate about?
Kerry: It’s so hard for me to pick one particular charitable because there are so many that I hold near and dear. While I like to support a wide range of causes, I am very passionate about supporting small businesses that use their company to enhance their community and environment. We are only as strong as the ties that hold our communities and families together. Companies that go beyond making a paycheck and add a wholesome and charitable element or service to their neighborhood are the reason my hometown has been such an amazing place to live and start a family.
NJMOM: Who is your role model? Why?
Kerry: Hands down, my parents are my role models. They have shown such strength and grace over my lifetime, no matter what obstacles seem to be thrown their way. Their dedication to hard work is unlike anything I have ever seen before and watching them grow, thrive and be successful is both heartwarming and inspiring. They are always there to help my siblings and I no matter how full their plate is. We have their foundation to thank.
My sister Alli is also a role model. She may be younger than me but I could never run either of these businesses without her. She is a rock when it comes to facing challenges and her skills in bookkeeping and accounting are what keep us afloat most of the time. It’s impressive to watch her thrive from my perspective being that I am a bit older, but I know I could (and would) never do this without her.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom (or parent/role model) ever gave to you?
Kerry: My mom always told me to be myself, and not to worry about what everyone else is doing. I have always marched to the beat of my own drum and I absolutely grew to do what I wanted and what I felt was right for me. This often did not look like the “textbook” proper path to take in life and I certainly changed paths a lot, and often. I always tell my parents,“thank you for the roots and the wings”. I can only imagine how hard it is as a parent to let your child find their own way in life and I am so grateful they encouraged me to find mine. I hope to be able to do the same thing for my child so very soon.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by? Why is this quote so important to you?
“Be here now.”
It is so important to me because I constantly need to remind myself to enjoy the now and let everything else be. I am always looking ahead and eager to charge forward with new ideas and plans, and sometimes that gets in the way of enjoying the moment at hand.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Kerry: Summer is my absolute favorite season in NJ, however, it is also a season of chaos for me and my family, and that’s all I have ever really known. We often try to come together for family dinners in the midst of the chaos, but any minutes I get to spend in the ocean with my husband are minutes I treasure the most, they truly make my heart smile and my soul full. My husband and I also love September and October or what we call “ local summer.” We get to enjoy a lot more time together on quiet beaches and also take part in some fun fall activities before the weather turns slightly colder here. We love to visit farms and gather flowers, pumpkins and other local produce and I am just super excited at the thought of bringing our baby along with us for all these adventures this year.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Kerry: Our first baby is due early this September, and while we patiently wait for its arrival we can’t help but dream up all the possible personalities for this little love. Although the baby isn’t here with us yet, I’ve totally taken on the “mom” role already in preparing my body, mind and home to welcome this child. We have big dreams for our family and we are so excited to share our world and show them everything that it has to offer…and get them in the ocean of course.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Kerry: I love The Hive, it’s a super cute children’s boutique in Spring Lake. For food, Seed To Sprout, a women-owned and operated business, their food is health conscious and to die for. I’d be there every day if I could. Beach and Mortar is a cute little beach shop in Ortley Beach, I’m so very proud of my best friend for taking the leap and opening it. I love shopping second hand and scouring racks for deals on items you can’t find in a mall at Squan Dry Goods in Manasquan.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Kerry: My husband and I live in Point Pleasant Boro, we grew up in the area. Our favorite little getaways in NJ include Island Beach State Park (probably our number one fav) for long days of surfing, sunshine and solace, Lambertville/New Hope area for hiking, perusing little shops and eating a good meal, and Cape May for a quick way to really get away and disconnect from work. We really love taking drives into towns we haven’t been before and exploring farms/restaurants/hikes etc.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Kerry: Follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, because you can. Set goals for yourself and work toward them slowly, it may feel like forever, but one day you are going to look back and see how far you have come. Give yourself some grace on the journey and know that it will not be easy, but it will all be worth it in the end because you followed your heart.
NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Kerry: There are so many shops and activities for families to partake in, especially during the peak season of summer. By social media and networking with other small business owners I have learned about so many fun groups based around activities and fitness for mom’s and their little ones, and I’m really excited to explore and meet everyone.