Bringing Manhattan to Melbourne
Organic elixir retailer, Greene Street Juice Co., in Melbourne’s Pran Central, has beaten the likes of Adidas, H&M, Nixon and Stuart Weitzman flagships stores to be named the International Store of the Year in this year’s prestigious London-based Retail Week Interior Awards.
Local husband and wife duo, Steve and Natalie Warner, worked with Melbourne-based design firm, Travis Walton Architecture, to develop their vision for the small store based in Melbourne’s trendy inner-city suburb of Prahran.
“Our vision for creating the store was to capture the essence of what we experienced by living in Manhattan, but also to convey the sense of quality that you get in our elixirs,” Natalie Warner told Inside Retail Weekly last week, following the Retail Week Interior Awards win.
“When we set out to create the bricks and mortar part of our brand, the important thing for us was to really capture where our journey began three years ago – a simple conversation on the steps of our home at 95 Greene Street in New York City.”
She explained that Steve was seconded to a project to New York in early 2012.
“We didn’t know then that this was a lifestyle changing experience for us both and that would lead us out of our corporate careers to become organic elixir makers.”
Because of visa restrictions, Natalie, who had been a lawyer in Melbourne, was unable to work for her first 90 days in New York. So she trained as a yoga teacher instead, which led to her then studying nutrition, and later juicing, in San Diego. A new passion was born.
“On arrival, we were immediately taken by the cutting health industry that existed in New York,” she noted. “The city captivated us from the beginning. People there really live their lives there to the fullest and everything they do is based on leading science. They also have access to an abundance of leading produce.
“One thing we noticed pretty soon was the presence of cold pressed juice companies. At the time, this wasn’t really happening in Australia and we hadn’t really been exposed to it. We very quickly made cold pressed organic juices a part of our lifestyle.”
“Cold pressing is a healthier process of juicing as it retains more of the vitamins and other nutrients,” added Steve.
Asked where Greene Street Juice Co.’s competitive edge lay, he said: “There are not many companies using organic produce. Conventional produce has more pesticides and chemicals in it. But these also become more prevalent in a cold pressed juice. That’s why it’s important to use organic produce in cold pressed juice and to further avoid any chemicals, not package them in a plastic bottle. We try to bring a premium product to the market, packaged in glass, at a price that is comparable to those who don’t.”
“Studies show that the real key to the juice is the quality of ingredients that go into it,” added Natalie. “We offer a 100 per cent organic product and we will never compromise on that. That goes to the core of the reason people are really looking for a cold pressed juice.”
Bringing it all back home
After moving back to Australia in the second half of 2013, the couple began preparing their new products, playing with blends and flavours, using a small juicer in their hotel room as they waited for tenants to move out of their home. They launched their new products in early 2014 at a yoga festival.
Natalie said Greene Street Juice Co. had two main categories of customers – those who want to include an organic elixir in their day-to-day life to lift their overall wellbeing, and those who undertake a juice cleanse to give their digestive systems a rest from time to time.
According to Steve, the company’s juices and smoothies are pressed at a commercial kitchen in Melbourne each day and are pre-packaged. They are sold as “grab and go” items in the store, as well as through some cafes and wholesale stockists. The company has also refreshed its website so that people can order online.
“We are not planning to open a whole chain of stores,” said Steve. “We are focused on making our product as available to as wide a customer base as possible and we are looking at ways to do that. But we are also looking, and will continue to look, for strategic locations in Victoria and interstate.
“Our vision for the flagship store was to create a unique and personal environment where customers could experience the same quality and passion that goes into making our elixirs. Working with the team at Travis Walton Architecture was amazing because they understood what we wanted, and then transformed it into this beautiful and inviting space that we get to experience every day.”
Design details of the award-winning Greene Street Juice Co. flagship in Melbourne’s Prahran include soft, white metal structures seen throughout the space (an interpretation of New York’s bridges and fire escapes), and signature Greene Street glass bottles that are found seamlessly integrated with perfect height recessed shelving cutouts. And a custom ice well sits neatly at the entry.
“It’s very minimalistic and free flowing,” said Natalie. “There’s no obvious checkout area. Some people describe the experience like a boutique art gallery in New York. The centrepiece is about the fridge and the vibrant colours of elixirs.”
“The brief with Greene Street Juice was to capture a sense of New York City without being too overt,” explained architect, Travis Walton, who flew to London to collect the award, often dubbed as the “Oscars for retail design”.
“Our design response concealed the back-of-house functions from view and broke down the traditional sales counter design to individual ‘pod-like’ timber and stone units. The end result is a more fluid exploration of the space, allowing for a more consultative-type customer experience.
“I’ve always been excited by fine detail and the extraordinary, and I want to create projects that are unexpected and vibrant. My approach is consistent, whether the project be a renovation of a period home, a new residence, or a new venue.”
This year’s Retail Week Interior Awards attracted hundreds of entries from countries all around the world, representing a total of 100 shortlisted venues. Winners were officially announced in London on November.
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