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Nékter of Knowledge

Alexis Schulze, co-owner of Nékter Juice Bar, shares her new Sneaky Spinach children's book

When Alexis Schulze opened Nékter Juice Bar with her husband Steve in 2010, the Newport Beach mom advocated for healthy eating by example. Like most working parents, Alexis felt her energy wane over the years. Shuttling her two kids, launching the juice bar and juggling her busy personal life, was wearing her down. That’s when Alexis became a juicing advocate. Armed with handfuls of green leafy vegetables, the young entrepreneur started fortifying her juices and smoothies. She began encouraging other moms to sneak a little spinach into their morning routine. Then, she got the kids involved. “It’s a great way to sneak vegetables in to their diet,” says Schulze, “which is every mom’s dilemma.” Nékter’s purple-hued, kid-friendly smoothies became so popular that Schulze was inspired to write her first children’s book: “Sneaky Spinach.” Coast sat down with the budding mom-trepreneur and asked about her new book; what inspires her and what to order for a toddler with a picky palate.

Coast: What inspired you to write “Sneaky Spinach”?
Alexis Schulze: I always worked with kids. This book was a great way to get back into that, while still being a part of Nékter. I wanted to make the kids active participants in their nutrition, so I crafted a story around it. We’ve been serving Sneaky Spinach smoothies since we opened. I would tell moms, ‘Hey, we can sneak some spinach in your kid’s morning smoothie.’ They all agreed: ‘It’s the greatest thing ever.’ Especially since it is so simple. I had always wanted to write a children’s book. So this was perfect. The book ties it all together.

Coast: How did you include your sons in the book?
AS: My sons are characters in the book. I wanted likable kids that other children could relate to, and they’re just typical boys … as a grown-up writing a children’s book you want the kids to connect with the characters. My sons Donovan and Bobby are 16 and 13 years old now. But when my children were younger, I wish I knew more about juicing. I would have started them early. I miss having little kids though. That’s partly why I wanted to get back into early education and write this book.

Coast: Speaking of education, you spent years working with children. What did that time teach you?
AS: When I was younger, I ran afterschool programs. During college, I taught preschool. Kids are so sweet, honest and innocent. Working with them brings out that side of you, that playfulness that you have to shove aside when you’re a grown up.

Coast: You hosted a children’s event at your South Coast Plaza location, do you plan to host more “Sneaky Spinach” readings?  
AS: We plan to host more readings in the stores, and at some local elementary schools. We will also give some of the book proceeds to those schools. The copies sold in our Nékter stores will help benefit the Festival of Children Foundation … I wanted to find a way to integrate my passion for children’s health and education. My hope is that this book will motivate children and their families to make healthier lifestyle choices, and benefit children across the country.

Coast: What do you recommend for a picky palate?
AS: The Berry Banana Burst. It’s a simple smoothie that most kids are used to – it’s just bananas and berries. Then there’s the Orange Crush, which we created more like a Slurpee. It’s icy with oranges and strawberries. With the red berries in there you can’t see a couple of leaves of spinach. In fact, our next book is called “The Berry Capers.” I love the idea of bringing health and wellness into children’s books.

Nékter Juice Bar, 3333 Bear Street, Costa Mesa, 949.340.2700 :: nekterjuicebar.com

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