Fresh juice is totally a thing in Southern California — it’s healthy, it’s refreshing, and there are so many varieties to choose from. When I visited Rock’n Juice in San Pedro earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting the brand’s effervescent owner Voula, who enthusiastically helped me set up food photos for the shop’s delicious juices and acai bowls. This summer, I got to sit down with Voula Tsiboukas of Rock’n Juice for an interview.
On both of my visits to the San Pedro location, it was immediately clear how much passion Voula brings to the company. Hailing from the small town of Potomia in Greece, Voula has brought what she has learned after growing up on an organic farm to create Rock’n Juice, a business that thrives upon health and wellness. And it’s totally thriving — the company has opened locations in San Pedro, Torrance, and soon Redondo Beach.
Check out below what Voula has to say about her journey from Greece to the South Bay and how she was able to blend her passion for music with healthy juices.
Tell me about your hometown in Greece, where you grew up.
Platania. It means river. It’s like a little village, it’s not even a town, it’s a little village. It’s between the mountains and very close to the sea, the Mediterranean Sea. It’s very beautiful there. It’s really beautiful. I grew up there, I was like grew up, raised there, I went to college there. Of course, not in the little village. I grew up, until 18 I was there and then I had to leave for my school and then returning back to the city that my village belongs to. I was working there for 14 years in pharmaceutical field industry. I directed production for drugs, medical devices, for hemodialysis. It was a different field completely.
What was behind the decision to come here to Los Angeles?
It was my lifestyle here and my cousin was here. We own the place together and he’s having businesses all over the place. He’s into the restaurant business and expanding it all the time. He proposed the idea to me as we were talking for fun. I was never thinking to move over here. I had a very good lifestyle back home — really quality life. I had my job and was growing in a field, but it was pretty challenging for me, because you cannot be trained for being in pharmaceutical, you have to go into it to know how it is.
I’m a technology person, a technology freak person even if like coming from a village. So, learning about medical devices, and plus the sizers, injection moldings and stuff, it was different for me so I stayed there. And my cousins was like hey, you have to come here. It’s you, like you know how to grow things, you know how to juice, you know, like all this. You have to make it a business. It’s going to well, there’s nothing like it in South Bay. I left one month before the Greek financial crisis. I came here November 2013. Four suitcases and a big smile.
What is the inspiration behind all the flavors on the menu? There are so many great combinations.
It’s the smell of my childhood house. My mom believed that you are independent when you are growing next to nature. You have to make everything by scratch, so she was following the season, because you know in Greece we have four seasons. So, every season we have the fruits and the vegetables. And she was creating all these flavors and she was following recipes, but most of the time it was her recipes, and that was the fun part, because we had to be part of it. It’s not, “Do you want to be part of it?” You have to be part of it. So you are there, so you go pick it, cut it, wash it, prep it, cook it, eat it.
And desserts, smoothies, juices, everything you can make when you have kids. We were the kids in that tradition. My mom used to make us have everything by making it. All the kids grew up with Nutella. Okay, my mom made her own Nutella for us. So, when I first tried the Nutella it was like, “Oh, that’s Nutella? My mom’s is better.”
What is your favorite item on the menu?
I have made this shot which is not on the menu. And people just ask for it — it’s a Voula shot and it’s funny because I ask them, “You know who Voula is?”
The last time I was here somebody did ask for it and you were like, “How did they know my name?”
I did and was like, “Oh, it’s spread now.” It’s my favorite thing. I drink it everyday.
What’s in it? Or is it a secret?
It’s oregano extract, it’s garlic, lemon, ginger, black cumin seed oil, turmeric, Cayenne…it’s actually all the super foods in one shot. With a pinch of Himalayan salt. That makes it smoother and keeps it in your body. Minerals, you need them.
There’s a clear Rock n’ Roll theme to the store. How did you come to love music?
Yeah. Well, music was all over my house. So, waking up in the morning, first thing it was like good morning to the family, having breakfast and there was always music in the back. Always. My memory is like music. I can’t work without music, even for pharmaceutical industry, I was begging them to put music all over the place. I can’t work, can’t think without it. So, music was there.
Then my discovery of Rock n’ Roll. I believe that I belong in a different era. I’m not for the 2000’s. I belong in the 60’s, 70’s … I love Rock n’ Roll. I had to discover music, because in my village, it was very folk music and traditional there. It’s not like here. I had to go through a lot of stages to see that, okay, that’s me. It makes my legs move, my heart jump, and changes my mood, and I can combine it with cooking, and my health, and my running, my yoga, and all these things.