Gay entrepreneur Brent Rodgers went from Wall Street to nutrition guru. And all it took was a year of wandering the planet
When Brent Rodgers took a break from the cutthroat world of business to re-energize himself, he never imagined his spiritual journey would produce a whole new career.
Rodgers had been working for a Wall Street firm for 10 years when, quite literally on a whim, he decided he was tired of the rat race.
“I [was burned out], so I quit. I had stock options and grants and left them all behind. The next morning, I was on a plane,” Rodgers says.
He didn’t have a plan beyond “doing a reset. I bought an American Airlines around-the-world ticket — with it, you can change the dates and times any time with no fees. It was great. I traveled the world — Asia, Australia, Egypt, South America, the Middle East — going to 45 countries for a year by myself. It was the best decision I ever made.”
When the trip was over, of course, he needed to come back to reality and find something to do. That’s when he realized the trip itself gave him the idea.
“It was my intention to go back to LA and do something,” he says. “But along my journey, I started listening to The Secret, which teaches ‘if you do what you love, money will flow to you.’”
He gave up on settling back in Los Angeles (“that city is very toxic — people are always looking for the next best thing”) and returned to Dallas to start his company, Roots Juices.
Rodgers came up with the idea for his company just this past April, officially launching a few months later. Like its name suggests, Roots Juices blends up a menu of organic drinks, squeezed from fresh fruits and vegetables, and mixed into anti-oxidant-ful, vitamin-rich tonics. And Rodgers would never have thought of it if he hadn’t taken off on his walkabout.
“I know the exact moment I came up with the idea,” he recalls. “I had already been to Argentina, Brazil and China. In Ipanema, you can walk down the street and everyone you see is just flawless. In western China, where there’s no tourism, there is no heart disease. I would ask, ‘What’s your secret?’ And I saw [people in all those places] were making pressed juices.”
He then had a Lost in Translation moment: “I was in a subway in Tokyo.
No one spoke any English. Suddenly there’s was this sign, like a bumper sticker, and all it said was ROOTS. I was looking for a sign and there it was. That’s when I knew what I was gonna move back to Texas.”
In a few months, all of his wildest dreams have been fulfilled and exceeded.
“I’m surprised at how quickly it has taken off,” he admits. “We’re already ahead of schedule — we’ve exceeded all our expectations for the year [in just a few months]. I’m working so hard — harder than I’ve ever worked — but I don’t have to wear a tie every day and people like my product. And they hate Wall Street.”
People’s embrace of the product probably has to do with its nutritional benefits. “Drinking an eight ounce serving a day is like eating three pounds of vegetables — you’re flooding your cells with nutrients,” he says. He works with a nutritionist though Rodgers himself usually tastes everything.
Rodgers also tinkers with flavors (“I’d like to do some seasonal versions,” he says) and as a gay man himself, is happy to have developed “The Six-Pack,” what he calls a “five day cleanse for gay guys.”
The products change with availability of produce: Kale is one of the big components, but the plant generates very little juice; Rodgers’ company maxed out on the organic grapefruit they had been using for one recipe and had to make changes.
“The farmer was very glad about that,” he smiles. “We go through about 4,000 pounds of produce every day, from a number of [Texas] farmers.”
Roots Juices isn’t the only company cold-pressing organic produce, but they are a rarity in this country and unique to Texas.
“There are a few people offering pressed juices out of New York at about twice the cost of us. People who live in Texas would rather deal with someone in Texas anyway, but we’re shipping worldwide now. It’s worked out really well for us.”
Rodgers hopes to open some retail stores soon — right now, it’s a delivery service, though juices are also available in a dozen or so locations (Equinox, the Crescent Hotel, Bolsa Mercado and more) — and hopes to expand to San Francisco, Houston and Atlanta.
Looks like the world tour is about to start all over again. Only this time, Rodgers knows what he’ll come home to.
For more information, visit RootsPressedJuices.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 14, 2012.