“You two are so cute!” Those same five words almost always follow us as we are out in the community sharing our FreshJax products and the story behind our lifestyle change. While we are humbled by every kind word about our relationship, our company, and our products, it always snaps us back to what we are most grateful for: kickball, hot sauce, and wedding favors.
We know, totally unexpected.
Let us explain.
Without a rousing game of kickball in Jacksonville’s San Marco neighborhood in 2009, and some really good friends who got us both there, we would not be living this healthy, happy life (as we like to call it) and we wouldn't have the daily privilege of cooking up countless new recipes and ideas to try to help you lead one, too.
For Jason, it was love at first sight with Hillary at that game. After kicking a home run, he rounded the bases and looked directly at the girl he’d only just met minutes before and said, “That was for you!”
And that was it. What followed was a dating whirlwind of good food, great wine, tasty cheeses and fantastic restaurants -- and a lot of weight gain for us both.
For Jason, the eye opening moment came a year later while watching a couple of food documentaries. Sitting there, in his early 30’s and admittedly 40 pounds overweight and recently diagnosed with high cholesterol and a painful stomach ulcer from his unhealthy lifestyle, he was struck by the main premise: LOOK AT INGREDIENTS.
Know what you are eating. Every bite. Every meal. Every day.
Hillary, also not feeling fit and fabulous either, was on board.
We tore through our pantry and refrigerator tossing any food with processed ingredients. Basically, if it wasn’t organic or clean (whole, natural foods with “real” and simple ingredients) -- it was GONE. Our friends were more than happy to take the loot and we were more than committed to restructuring our lifestyle.
In just two months, we were both losing weight -- and gaining happiness. Jason lost every one of those extra 40 pounds. And this was with minimal exercise and no “dieting”. He didn't count calories, he just made sure he knew every ingredient in what he ate.
As a lover of all things hot sauce, another limitation presented itself along the way. After receiving a gift of hot sauces that seemed tasty, Jason was shocked to find the sampler set full of chemicals. So, he started experimenting and making his own.
Then, in 2011, while planning our wedding and juggling the list of “to-do’s” and a budget: we were stumped on an affordable wedding favor to give our guests.
Jason (brilliantly) suggested we bottle up several homemade hot sauces.
The guests loved them. Some close friends even asked for more after the wedding.
Around the same time, we had both gone back for our MBA’s in business at the University of North Florida. Not one to do anything half way, Jason’s lifestyle change inspired him to make a career change as well. He left his job in commercial lighting and had a new dream of opening a healthy and clean restaurant right here in Jacksonville.
Hillary (brilliantly – again!) suggested we start a little smaller – selling some of those hot sauces at the new up and coming Riverside Arts Market; a craft and fresh farmers market organized on Saturdays “Under the Bridge” as locals call it.
What started as an inventory of three locally made hot sauces, quickly grew leaps and bounds thanks to new requests for other healthy food from our new and growing customer base.
And…FreshJax was born.
It still amazes us how much our little labor of love and health, continues to grow.
In Spring 2015, 12 of our products will be distributed to 62 Winn-Dixie stores across North Florida and South Georgia. That’s in addition to being locally available at Native Sun, Grassroots Natural Market, and Earth Fare.
We know. We still can’t believe it either.
Hillary has also since left her job in interior design to work with FreshJax full-time. In addition to getting her MBA, she’s also received her 500 hour Kripalu Yoga certification and serves as an adjunct Professor of Yoga at the University of North Florida.
Our next dream is to build a lifestyle center here in Jacksonville; a place where the community can try healthy, local and organic food or yoga or both -- and endless words of encouragement. More on this in another upcoming blog post.
But, we have it on good authority, FreshJax hot sauces will be stocked there in abundance. Now, if only we could get a game of kickball or two going….
Explore yoga + healthy living in Jacksonville, FL with FreshJax!