In this instalment of our #BeAVillager series, we go back to the beginning with our first hire, Karen Parucha, marketing manager, leader and most importantly, our voice to the outside world.
VJ: How did you get involved with Village Juicery?
KP: Sometime around the summer of 2014 I started to have an existential crisis. I was working a corporate job, travelling for work a lot and getting more serious about yoga, but it wasn’t adding up. I started to realize that I simply wasn’t happy and I needed to make a change. So I left the corporate world, shifted my focus to teaching more yoga and began searching for something I could be truly passionate about.
When I met with the founders of Village Juicery, I found a common passion for entrepreneurship and was drawn to contributing to something positive from the start. It was a risk, but I wanted to see what it was all about. I wasn’t super into juicing at the time but my family always had a deeper connection with food and it felt like the right path for me.
VJ: You mention your family’s connection with food, tell us more about that?
KP: I come from a long line of farmers in the Philippines. But they slowly sold land to pay for education and to create opportunity for the next generation. When I was five, my parents made the final move to Canada to give me and my brother a chance for a better life. We packed up our things, said goodbye to our pet goat and made the move. Growing up in Toronto, I was still raised with the idea that food is community and you always share what you have. It’s something that has stuck with me.
VJ: You mention happiness a lot, what does happiness mean to you?
KP: That’s a tough question. To me, happiness is a better understanding of your Self (emphasize: capital S). It’s when there is harmony between what you think, what you say and what you do, including what you put in your body and you who surround yourself with. I feel a little obliged to pursue this path of Self-discovery, given the sacrifice my family made to give me the chance to achieve it. I think that’s why I love yoga, it helps me keep my balance.
VJ: Are you happy?
KP: Absolutely. Every day I wake up and do the things I think are important and that I love. I connect with new and amazing people every day, and never leave the house without a purpose I believe in. It certainly comes with sacrifice, but yes, I am.
VJ: So you teach, practice and study yoga, what’s the grand plan?
KP: Trying to keep a regular practice and work at a startup is hard, but it gives me focus and energy to continue my day. I teach about four times a week and I just started pursuing certification in yoga therapy. Ultimately, I think of yoga as my craft, something I use to communicate with others, that I will always be working on the side, trying to improve.
VJ: Switching gears, tell us more about where we can find you on the weekend?
KP: On the rare weekend day when I’m not working, I’m almost always found in the west end. Yoga studios, local shops or definitely in High Park with Clinton.
VJ: Who is Clinton?
KP: Clinton is a two-year-old Bernadoodle beast I got with my ex boyfriend. I have him whenever he’s not in town, which works fine for me; I get to be the fun parent. He’s about 100 pounds, but he thinks he’s a lap dog. Yes I know, “who’s walking who,” I get it! He’s the most loveable dog and is the first to get other dogs to play. He only operates in two speeds: either go-go-go or passed out – just like me.
VJ: What do you love most about your job?
KP: For me it’s all about the people I connect with at Village Juicery – at our many amazing wholesalers, or for things like this #BeAVillager series, where I meet entrepreneurs who are so passionate about their craft. I also get to connect with like-minded people online and through social media who love our brand and are so excited to share their experiences with others.
The passion and energy that comes from working at a startup fuels me. No two days are alike, working at a desk is seldom, and I’m constantly brainstorming the next set of ideas.
VJ: How does your voice change when you’re speaking on behalf of Village Juicery?
KP: It’s definitely still me behind the counter or at the keyboard, but I think the best way to describe it is it’s a really good, confident friend. Someone who has something to share with you, but won’t judge you for all the rest. It’s authentic, that’s what I think we’re trying to do – be helpful, add something positive, but always recognize that we all make our own choices and that it’s all good.
VJ: What is your favourite juice?
KP: Definitely Be Strong – it’s got it all, tastes great and the red cabbage reminds of me the old restaurants in Bloor West Village, my new hood.
Village Juicery’s Be a Villager series takes a look at the men and women who have inspired us. They are members of our team, our partners and the larger community who, by honing in on their craft, are doing great things for the city in which we live.