From hip-hop to health guru, enterprising entertainer shines light on the juicing path to wellness
Anyone familiar with Castle Hill Avenue in the Bronx, NY is used to seeing an assortment of bodegas, car accessory shops, hair salons and nail shops. It’s not the neighborhood most would expect a healthy living juice bar to be located, but according to David Styles, known to music fans asStyles P, that’s exactly why it’s needed.
A little over a year ago, Styles, along with his business partners, established Juices for Life, a local juice bar that serves up natural and healthy beverages. According to Styles, who serves as the face of the business, his job is to spread the word on the benefits of juicing to communities of color. He swears by his commitment to the lifestyle daily on Twitter, in every interview he does and in general conversation. These days he wants to take being health-conscious a step further, whether that’s offering health tips or franchising his business, Styles is interested in pursuing it all. “One way or another,” he says, “we all need a reminder to stay healthy or spread the word about getting to that healthy way of being to someone else.” BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the enterprising entertainer, who spoke on his budding business and healthy lifestyle.
What was the impetus behind starting Juices for Life?
My partner had a juice bar prior to this one and I used to be a frequent customer of it. When I first started going, it was like me and six other people total as customers. It was just such a life-changer for me that I felt like I had to spread the word, so it kind of became my hangout spot. So I would be like, “If you want to meetme, meet me at the juice bar.” And it just became something that I tried to put all of my friends on to. It became home base for me, a way of life.
When exactly did you fully immerse yourself into the lifestyle of juicing?
I would say probably about 10 years ago. Yeah, I’ve been juicing for a while.
Most people wouldn’t necessarily associate rapping and juicing. How did these two worlds come together in your life?
Well, you know, just being a rapper, moving around so much and living the fast life, I would always look forbalance. Coming off the road, I would get some juice, some natural fruits in my system—just something natural to bring some balance.
Did you grow up with that kind of thinking or was it something you learned along the way?
We all grow up with our moms telling us to make sure to eat an apple a day and to eat the veggies. I think that thought leaves you sometime around [the age of] 18. I think my body kind of knew. I was always tired and I was already not getting any sleep. I would eat something and I would feel weighed down. I just started paying attention to my body, like I really needed to balance it all out.
Then as I started balancing, it became a way of life for me. I started changing from eating a lot of fast food, to eating a little bit of fast food, to I don’t eat fast food at all. So you know, it was an eye-opener for me, plus it helped me with my work. I lost a lot of weight. In the studio, it would be a lot for me to lay [a track] in the booth, because I would always get short-winded. After juicing, everything just became more open, the vision became clearer for me.
So what is your approach to encouraging people who aren’t necessarily interested in juicing to get into it?
By giving them the real, you know. I think a lot of people, especially when it comes to being healthy or living a healthy lifestyle, they look at it in a light like how people look at nerds. Like, it’s not “cool” to be healthy. We try to change that mindset because your body is your temple. There is nothing more important than your body.
With [our customers] being a hip-hop crowd, we try to say: juice is cool, chicks are cool or dudes are cool—whatever sex you may be—cars are cool, nice gear is cool… all of that is cool. But it’s not cool, if you’re not in good health. Like, you can’t even begin to think about getting that or even if you do, you’re not going to [get the opportunity to] enjoy it if you’re not in good health. So we try to push them to understand basically that we are the future, our children are the future, and their children are the future. We’ve been doing this for a long time, as far as fast food and eating the wrong things, so it’s going to take a long time to get it back right. We just don’t hide the truth. When you get older, you’re going to wish you could do some of the things you were doing when you were young. By juicing up and coming here, that’s the way to do it.
Why did you choose Castle Hill Avenue as your location? Why the Bronx?
Our other location was in Harlem on 125th Street. When we were looking for a new location, we said we wanted to be somewhere that Harlem people could get to Yonkers people could get to, Bronx people could get to. The Bronx just seemed like a good spot, and actually, the Bronx is one of the poorest and unhealthiest counties in the world. So we felt definitely we had to start in the Bronx first.
A lot of the times with juicing, you think about Jamba Juice or you’re thinking straight islander. We like to fuse all of that. When you come here, you’ll see White, Black, Spanish, every age group. But as minorities we don’t get health insurance and we don’t go to the doctor before it’s too late, so this right here we feel is prevention for later on, in addition to exercising and eating well. We just tried to put it in a spot where there’s everything—multicultural, a big melting pot—where it was poor, uneducated and where it was needed.
Heavy D passed recently and many Blacks within entertainment are dying at a younger age. What are you doing about educating people about having a healthy lifestyle?
I don’t specifically go for entertainment; we go for people. People are people. But when I see entertainers—I live by it, so my every word whenever I see them, I spread the knowledge in a way that will get the word bigger and get it out there to even more people. As far as entertainers, I feel like those are the people who know about health, but keep it to themselves. Not so much in hip-hop, but in general because if you’re an entertainer, you get the trainers, the nutritionists, the dieticians and all that. It’s very hard to find an A-list celebrity who’s out of shape. Think about it realistically. We try to reach the people who don’t have the ability to shop at Whole Foods, or go to Mrs. Green’s [Natural Market], who need the education. If anything, we’re asking entertainers, athletes and stars for help to make it cool. We’ve got to make it look cool for the kids because they’re not thinking about their future.
How much of an education did you have to commit yourself to in order to keep this lifestyle and your business going?
Just from being a health-conscious person, I think that as you go and you look into things you get [your education] up just like with anything else you do. Everyday we try to learn things. We have customers who come here and put us onto things. We’re here for the community and we’re here to learn. If you have a problem and we don’t know about it, we’ll look it up, which we do when people come here for certain things or for certain reasons. We tell them to give us some time while we look it up and if we can’t help, we’ll recommend them to someone.
What’s your ultimate goal with this business?
Basically, juicing is a lifestyle and it goes hand-to-hand with eating correctly and exercising. We have people who come in here who give us eating tips. Like any customer, if you have good tips, spread it and we’re going to continue spreading that word. Like I was telling some of my dudes in here that I just found out about oil pulling, like sesame and sunflower oil pulling. I had never really heard of it, so we’re trying to see if it works and if it does, we’re going to spread the word. The thing about our juice bar is that we’re not about the dollar. We’re at 1026 Castle Hill in the Bronx, but we try to spread the word around the world. And of course everyone can’t get here, so we tell people to go buy a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer or a Breville juicer. Go get you fruits, and look up anybody’s juice bar—ours, anybody’s—and just mix your fruits and juice up. That’s our main focus and goal that we get up and do everyday.