I could introduce Moon Juice as a Los Angeles-based juice shop, but that seems a bit lackluster, and not entirely accurate. As founder Amanda Chantal Bacon will tell you, Moon Juice is more of a mission. Perhaps you’ve tried Moon Juice yourself, maybe you’ve read about it in countless press editorials which all use the phrase ‘cult-following’, or possibly you’ve seen Amanda in the kitchen with Gwyneth Paltrow concocting recipes using Moon Juice products. Sex Dust, Spirit Tonic, Liquid Ormus—Moon Juice creations may sound magical, but it’s the story of their founder that’s nothing short of miraculous. In 2011, Amanda Chantal Bacon left her career in fine dining, signed the lease on a space, then found out she was pregnant a few days later. This is Amanda’s story on pushing past our limits, what actually happens when you hit breaking point, and why learning to surrender doesn’t have to mean giving up.
“The start of all of this marked a moment in my life where I really got to see how much fear I was able to accept. I was newly pregnant, unsure about the relationship I had with my child’s father, had just signed the lease for the store, and was leaving my comfortable career in fine dining to open a juice shop. This was before there were juice shops around, so it wasn’t a no-brainer. Everyone thought it was a crazy idea and told me it wasn’t going to work. I had to accept the fact that I was in the grips of fear, and have faith. It was an incredibly challenging time, but I really wanted to change. And if changing for myself was not enough of an inspiration, I had this child inside of me. That really ignited something very deep within me that said OK—we’ve been moving towards a place of happiness and now we need to go full on. So I prayed for support and guidance to show up and that’s what happened. It was uncomfortable, but that discomfort and unknowing has lead to becoming a version of myself I didn’t know was possible.
I can attribute the strengths that I have to that moment of going, ‘Oh shit. I don’t know how I’m going to run this business, I don’t know how I’m going to have this child. I don’t know how to become the person who will gracefully and joyfully rise to this occasion.’ I don’t know if we’re forced into adapting to those situations… I think, in a sense, we’re begged to adapt. Situations will put themselves out there, and highlight the places that we need to transcend. We’re given that choice. I think some people go through life being given that choice which they can either run from, or be courageous and take on. There have been other times in my life where I’ve been given a window, an option…where I could have said—I’m going to be brave. But I don’t know that I had the strength, or whether it was the right time for me to do so. But in this case, the inspiration of my son drove me. It was an all systems at once thing, where all I could hear and feel was:
You have got to up-level.
You are going to make
To think that you have control over the timing of kids and your career is a big illusion. You can’t think, I’m planning on having a child now because it will fit into my schedule and my professional trajectory. That’s assuming a lot. That’s assuming you’re going to have a healthy child, that you’re going to be in a fixed state, that nothing is going to blow open in your heart when you become a mother—and you decide you don’t want to be in your job anymore. I don’t think we can just throw something into the calendar—you have no idea what’s going to happen. I believe that everything happens when it needs to happen. And when your child arrives, don’t think for a second you can’t have your career, or that you won’t find strength or a vantage point that you weren’t aware you’d have access to.
When Moon Juice started, we were really preaching to the choir—people who already knew this stuff, who were already living it with me. So the feedback I received was positive. But I’ve gotten to a point where I’m no longer speaking to this little lovely community who wants me to succeed, who really understand me and it’s all love and rainbows. And that’s just what happens—you put yourself out there and you’re going to get a lot of feedback, and suddenly there are people who irrationally hate you. So that’s been interesting. I’ve been labeled with a eating disorder, that I’m sick and crazy, that I look ill, that I shouldn’t be considered a business-person because I have a very rich husband who paid for all of this (when I’ve never been married, and don’t even get child support). When that started happening, I got a little nervous. Like, is this the part where my feelings get really hurt? The part where I’m going to get a bit neurotic and take this on? But the weirdest thing is that I didn’t experience that at all. Which sounds really fake—like, ‘the right answer to give’—but in truth my own reaction really shocked (and impressed) me. I also take those comments as a sign that I’m reaching a wider audience, which is what I’ve always wanted for Moon Juice: to advocate happiness and healthiness within the mainstream. I want to speak to the 99%, not just the 1%. So when I see comments that are triggering something in somebody, regardless of the fact that it’s coming out in anger or doubt, I actually feel like that’s an indication that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be, and I’m headed towards the place I want to go.
Moon Juice has never felt like some step-by-step business where I’m ticking things off the list, selling things and hitting goals, etc. It feels like a mission. There’s a certain urgency around it for me, but it doesn’t feel like a stressful urgency and maybe that’s what the difference is. If I was following some business plan where I wanted to have a certain amount of growth and capital and success by a certain time, that would beat me down. But there’s something about the urgency coming from a heart-centered mission that makes it feel different. The deeper that I get in the trenches—the more I work—the whole, ‘did I really only sleep 3 hours for the last 16 nights and how many airplanes have I been on and my head is spinning a little bit’—that brings me closer to it all. So I’m grateful for that.
Moving at full speed and full capacity feeds me.
I’m also a believer in perceived stress. For example, I look at what was on my plate 5 years ago and it was nothing compared to what I have going on now. Yet I was having a much more stressful experience in life. I feel like that’s half of my job with Moon Juice—working to make sure I’m not perceiving this life that I’ve chosen as stressful. I choose to see it as exciting and empowering. That’s not to say I don’t find it challenging: to be a single business owner moving at this pace, as well as single mother, is an intense experience. I’m close with my mother but she’s not close by, and I don’t have time to sit around having play dates. The support system most prevalent in my life has come from the females around me. I have a wonderful, diverse group of friends, and my Moon Juice team is really starting to blossom. I’m finally hitting a place with my business that I’ve been striving for for years, where I have key crew members in it for the long haul. I’ve also been so relieved to find someone recently who I can’t quite call a nanny or personal assistant—she’s more like an adopted family member. It’s not easy to make a decision like that, to really invest yourself and your child in someone. Maybe it’s some funny, modern thing to be in, but I think that particularly as more women start to work, the idea of a nuclear family as your sole support system is radically changing. I think that we’re going to start seeing more questions around, what is family? How do you navigate and negotiate that? How do you find something that works and be unapologetic about it?
I used to have an idea of
what a perfect family looked like in my head.
I’m someone who has striven for perfection in all areas of my life… I was always looking for perfect health, the perfect meditative practice, the perfect home that will be really tidy, the perfect child. But I was completely slammed down. The way my child came into the world, my partnerships, the way my business opened. It all fell apart at once. And I thought—I could get really upset right now. I could carry this around, bear this cross for rest of my life and be a victim. Or, I’m going to let myself fully break down and see what that’s like. I had never let myself break down before. I’ve always been in control, on target, taking care of everyone else, super type A. So I let myself break down… and what I found was that there wasn’t this long period of laying in bed or being miserable. I had a business and a community that kept showing up for me. So my version of breaking down became the most opening experience, one that changed me forever.
What that looked like was working 14—16 hour days in the shop with my infant strapped to me, nursing and changing diapers between ringing someone up or talking them through a health issue—and sometimes in the midst of all of that, I would burst into tears. And I am not a cryer—I let other people cry to me, but I just don’t do it. I’m all about keeping it positive and keeping it moving. But I’d just had a child, I’d had no sleep, I was perfectly primed with chemistry of nursing. So I would just stand there and cry. And there was something very opening about that. Typically when women have children, they hunker down and nest. They cocoon into their partners, their baby and their home. But not cocooning at all, and not having that little family to project those emotions onto, I found that I was having the same experience through connecting with people in my work space—by having to interact with hundreds of people in public in a very vulnerable state. Strangers also come at you differently when they see that you’re young, you have a baby, you’re a bit too skinny because you’re alone and there’s no-one to cook for you, you just opened this shop—and people connect with that raw human element.
It was never, I don’t know what I’m going to do, I don’t know how I’m going to make it. It was—I’m going to make it, because I have to.
And part of me being able to make it was looking those people in the eye, whether I knew them or didn’t, and letting them hold my heart for a minute.
The more time that passes, the more extraordinary this experience becomes. I really see how I was pushed to a breaking point, and how I let myself break. I decided: I’m going to trust that I’m not meant to fail, I’m not meant to die or be sad and lonely. And realizing that really, breaking only means breaking out of some old pattern. It’s easy to intellectualize, but to actually wake up and be living that is a very real experience—but one that’s ultimately been incredibly liberating. People might look at me from the outside and think I have the perfect life: I have the juice shop, the cute kid and the pretty house. But what they don’t see is the blood, sweat and tears that has gone into this—that continues to go into this. And what I’ve realized is that the perfection is actually within the struggle. The blood sweat and tears… that’s the part I really love. So in that sense, yes—my life is perfect.”
As told to Amy Woodside, June 2015
Images courtesy of Amanda Chantal Bacon