You may have heard… The Mo is Growing! (Pun totally intended). Our franchise program is well underway, with two shiny new venues opening up in North Vancouver, one all the way across BC in Revelstoke, and quite a few more in the works. So, this week, to welcome the latest Green Mo’ Revolutionaries to our family, we thought we’d go back to where it all began, and introduce you to our very first franchisee, the lovely Jennifer Just, owner of Squamish Green Moustache.
Nestled in that beautiful valley, the Green Moustache looks like it belongs there – and so does Jenn.
“I was born and raised in Whistler,” Jenn says. “I was fortunate enough to grow up in the mountains, skiing and snowboarding, and doing several sports and activities. My dad has always been a great cook and taught me, at a young age, basic kitchen skills. I started working in hospitality when I was 16 until I graduated and moved to Vancouver to pursue a degree. After the first year I decided this was not for me, and after some traveling I moved to Squamish and that is where I found my passion for growing food and the power of food. Later that year I enrolled at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, graduated with honors, and began working at the Green Mo’… the rest was history!”
I ask her what sparked her passion for nutrition.
“Living in Squamish, I had the opportunity to start a garden and spent more time cooking and preparing myself food. I noticed that some of the food I was eating was really affecting how I felt. My mom was diagnosed with MS before I was born and that inspired me to learn more about how food can heal. I attended a raw food workshop that a Sea to Sky local and friend, Priscilla Levac, was hosting. I was so interested in everything – the impact that food has on the environment, and how easy it was to prepare this food that was live and full of nutrients. I spoke to a few other attendees who were going to the Institute of Holistic Nutrition and how much they enjoyed it, and started there later that year.”
After graduating, Jenn worked at the Whistler Green Moustache before deciding to open her own location in Squamish.
“Many things stood out to me at the Green Moustache that were different from any other job. Nicolette and Pierre’s passion was inspiring.” She recalls.
“The fact that you could get healthy, fast, organic food was nothing I had seen before. When I started, it was still fairly new, so I got to see the growth and many achievements – I knew that was something I wanted to experience for myself. The best part was the regulars who would come in and thank us for helping them feel themselves again through this food. That was amazing to be a part of.”
She realized that Squamish was ideal for The Green Moustache – it was growing, filling with young families, and despite being the ‘Outdoor Recreation Capital of the World’, lacked options for healthy, organic food.
So, she went for it!
“Being the first franchisee I believe it was quite the learning experience for all of us!” She smiles. “The amount of support I got was great, I had several people there to help and answer any questions I had. Working at The Green Moustache in Whistler before I opened my own was beneficial as I was familiar with what was needed to operate smoothly. The pre-opening manual was very simple to navigate and very helpful.
“Being a part of The Mo’ – I do feel it is a big family. I find everyone involved has passion for real food and helping people stay healthy and prevent disease. It is not just about telling people what to eat when they come here. It is giving them the knowledge to continue this journey on their own and share it with their friends and families. I love that with The Green Moustache, there is very little waste and less of an impact on the environment. That we are supporting local farmers as much as possible, the relationship we have with our local suppliers is something really great.”
“How do you find working with organic suppliers?” I ask her.
“It is way easier than I thought to get everything organic. I get most of my organic produce through Discovery Organics and they have a great relationship with all their farmers, there’s even photos and write ups on their website of the farms all over the world. I get a lot of produce from Pemberton. Our microgreens are grown right down the street. I try to buy local as much as possible and in the Winter that is not always easy, but I have a number of different suppliers I can go to, so there are options. I hope for more large-scale certified organic farms right here in Squamish.”
Though relationships with The Green Moustache and suppliers are good, it’s her Squamish team that brings Jenn the most joy.
“My team is amazing! I always knew that I wanted to provide a fun, family atmosphere that people would love to come to work at. Everyone is very passionate about healthy food and have their own experiences on why they choose a whole food diet. I always get told how friendly and helpful my staff is and it makes me very proud.”
Finally, I ask her if she has advice for anyone thinking of opening a Green Mo’.
“I think we need more of these, one in every town would be ideal. I tell a lot of people who are on the fence to just go for it. I was considering it for quite some time but if I could go back I would have done it sooner. I was intimated at first but now when I look back on this last year it was such a great learning experience and was something I would do all over again.”