In 2011, Moon Juice was just a storefront in Venice, CA, where you'd find founder Amanda Chantal Bacon behind the register, ringing up bottles of (admittedly expensive) green juice and extolling the virtues of raw foods.
The energizing superherbs she was so gung-ho on must have worked, because over the years that little juice shop evolved into a brand—one with three bustling stores, an online commissary, and her line of Moon Dusts, the packaged adaptogenic supplement blends that have become staples in the pantries of the most de rigueur (and Instagram-friendly) pantries.
And while today women throw around terms like ashwagandha and maca like they do SoulCycle and Barry's—and Bacon herself has become the Rorshach Test of wellness (representing either the best or the worst of the burgeoning trend)—Moon Juice has quietly been positioning itself for a massive global push.
"You can find this globally, in places where one is searching for, like, lash extensions and under-eye wrinkle cream."
This week, the high-vibe brand relaunches its Moon Dusts, rolling out new formulations that have been more than a year in the making. And later this month, you'll be able to pick up your $38 jar of Brain Dust, Beauty Dust, or any of the other four options at Sephora.com (before landing in 30 of the beauty mecca's brick-and-mortars this fall). The goal, according to Bacon, is to mainstream adaptogens so that "you don't have to go to the uber-cool boutique that's hidden away in one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in America; you can find this globally, in places where one is searching for, like, lash extensions and under-eye wrinkle cream."
That's not all: Starting this summer you can order a "dusted" latte at Edition Hotel in New York City and Miami. (Room service, anyone?) Guests staying at either location will also find a Bacon-blessed chocolate on their pillow—but in typical Moon Juice fashion, these aren't any old squares; the 70 percent raw, adaptogenic-spiked chocolates feature a full dose of her Dream Dust. (And come fall, you won't need to book a room to get your cacao high—they'll be available for purchase too.)
"The person I want to speak to is that woman that's looking for a fun experience, but also deeply searching for something," says Bacon.
Here, the Moon Juice founder talks about what makes these new formulas so special, why she's not in the business of converting skeptics, and how a candy mastermind is setting the company up for global domination.
Moon Dusts aren’t new—what makes the new formulations such a big deal?
Where we really put the time and attention and built out the team and used that first series A investment funding was to get behind making literally the most potent blend on earth that we possibly could do. We haven't even redone our flagship store—the Venice store is really cute, but it’s still the same store that I built out when I was pregnant by myself and I was the [general contractor]! So all of the energy has gone into these new blends. They’re the same great blends, but each herb has been taken and individually considered, and we have an in-house herbalist on the team now and a new supplier for each.
What had it been like before?
Before it also had been considered, but it was what you could do being a smaller brand. It just takes a lot of money—all of the Chinese herbs that we’re using [in the new blends] come to the country in whole form, and then we have a proprietary extraction process that’s happening in Oregon in a facility with wind power and spring water. And before they’re processed, they’re double tested for potency and, you know, making sure that they’re safe. Those are the Chinese herbs; for the Indian herbs, we’re working directly with organic farms. For each herb, we really considered the region that they’re coming from. We’re working with adaptogens, so the elevation is really important, the extreme temperatures are really important.
"How do we set it up so that if you do spend $2 to dose yourself and this is your first attempt at adaptogens, that you actually feel it?"
I didn’t realize that adaptogens were so sensitive.
The beauty of adaptogens—and the way that I really got into them and started to love them and appreciate them in this way and feel them in my body—is that they’re plants that are out there in some of the most extreme situations on the planet. Whether it's really high elevation, really cold temperatures, intense waves, ice, roots that have to go down a mile into the mountain to find nutrients—and often times all of those things are happening—these plants cultivate this adaptive energy to take care of themselves. And by some cosmic blessing, when we take these plants they get into our body and they start doing the same thing for us and help us reach homeostasis. So with that it’s important that you consider each plant and you really do look at where they’re coming from.
And [then] having to consider that we’re scaling to not just be a boutique brand. How do we set it up so that if you do spend $2 to dose yourself and this is your first attempt at adaptogens—and you’re a skeptic—and you’re wherever you are in the world, that you actually feel it? So that you believe in plant medicine and you keep coming back?
Are you trying to make adaptogen believers out of skeptics?
I’m not in the business of converting, because I think everybody finds what they need in their own time—when they want it and when they’re ready. I just want to be here with the best product when you are ready. If we get to be there for their first time, it better taste good and it better fucking work in one shot.
"I’m not in the business of converting, because I think everybody finds what they need in their own time."
What has the latest round of funding enabled you to do?
The first round of funding was really put into opening Melrose Place and coming out with the new formulations, bringing in an herbalist, and bringing in some new key hires to the team. This second round, which is not quite closed, has been incredible for bringing on our president, Elizabeth Ashmun, who’s extremely exciting and incredible. She comes from Kate Somerville, but originally came from the candy world—she created Nerds Rope back in the day.
I love that the creator of what might be the most sugary candy is now behind one of the buzziest wellness brands in the world.
[We’re also] bringing a couple of other key hires who have accepted, but we haven't announced yet. I’ve been waiting seven years for this—they’re really going to help with the digital space. As of yet we haven't done any marketing; it’s me on Instagram doing everything. I’m working on our second book, which will be out in the fall of 2018—it’s gonna just be the book of adaptogens. And I know we’ve said it before, but this year we’ve really committed to also opening a store in New York.
It’s finally happening! How important are storefronts to you as Moon Juice expands?
The store experience is extremely important to us. I always want to keep [it] special and intimate; I don’t want to scale it in a mass way. And I think that there actually is a smarter way for us to look at giving everyone that education and that intimate experience, and using modern technology to do so—which I know nothing about. But we have a great team of people that know how to do that. So I get to focus less on operational, financial things and do what I love, which is more of the R&D: spending time on the farms in India, putting out video content, which we’ve never done, recipe stuff, getting this book out, getting in New York, and really redoing our digital platform.
"I had a Brain and a Spirit chocolate while driving and got into the meeting and actually felt really buzzed."
And you’re also Dusting chocolates. Why go the edible route? And, most importantly, do they work?
With these chocolates I’m really wanting people to actually taste the herbs. That’s part of the experience—that adaptogens start in the mouth; they start on the palate. Typically a very important part of medicine when using herbs is that you smell them and you taste them.
[The chocolates are also] a reminder to take your adaptogens. We just had a board meeting a few days ago and I forgot to eat breakfast, I didn't have time to liquify my Dust and do the whole thing, I was running late, and I had wet hair...it was a bad look. And I had a Brain and a Spirit chocolate while driving and got into the meeting and actually felt really buzzed. I’m, like, wiggling in my seat, and had a lot to say and couldn't get it out fast enough!
Like any successful entrepreneur, Amanda Chantal Bacon has her (adaptogenic-spiked) morning routine down pat. And if you can't make it to one of the shops, here's how to make a Moon Juice-approved beautifying beverage at home.
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