After my parents recently moved to Shanghai, China for my dad’s job, I decided to spend the summer here to experience the culture, meet interesting people and of course eat amazing Asian dishes. However, after a few weeks, I started craving organic fruit and veggies so I set out to find fresh produce. One thing led to another and soon I found Lizzy’s All Natural, an all natural smoothie company in the heart of Shanghai.
This company, which will soon have three storefronts around Shanghai, was started by Elizabeth Schieffelin, a Georgetown graduate and Greenwich native back in April 2014 when she started making her famous smoothies. Today, Lizzy’s All Natural not only sells over 51 flavors of smoothies, 4 flavors of kombucha and various organic coffee and teas, but has expanded to selling many more items such as probiotic chocolate and an array of nut butters.
Elizabeth has a background in holistic health coaching and still offers her coaching amidst running her business. I sat down with the woman behind the fast growing business to find out all of the details that went into starting and maintaining her successful and delicious all natural brand.
What is your background and what made you want to live in Shanghai?
I went to Georgetown for undergrad and studied international trade with a focus in Asian services. I was also involved in a program called entrepreneurship initiative through the business school and I was also on the Board of the Kiros Society which is an international society so I was always involved and interested in international matters.
I did an exchange program in Beijing with my high school and studied abroad in Shanghai my junior year and fell in love with the culture and knew I wanted to live here after college. I have also always been passionate about health and my senior year, I started a business to help American food producers export to China. After I moved here, I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition which is based in New York and became a Health Coach.
How and why did Lizzy’s start?
With my health coaching, I gave my clients my smoothie recipes and they loved them. Many of them were really busy so I started just making the smoothies for them. Then I started selling them at farmers markets around Shanghai and Lizzy’s started because my passions include health and education and Shanghai definitely needs more healthy choices, especially fast food style.
Shanghai is growing so rapidly but there is still a lack of education about nutrition. There are very unhealthy western style foods and there is a need for affordable nutrient dense “fast food” that makes the consumers look and feel more energetic.
Why did you pick smoothies to sell?
I found personally that I had really great results in my health by drinking green smoothies because they are such an efficient way of getting nutrition. Physically, you can fit in more nutrients than just eating a salad because the blender tears apart the fiber in the vegetables. This allows for better absorption of the nutrition. Basically, you get maximum nutrition, they taste good, and they are really fun to make.
How do you find natural products in Shanghai?
I use Gusto Fine Foods which is the premier supplier of fine and all natural food for the hotel in this country. I have visited many farms and suppliers so I can ensure that I am giving my customers the best quality ingredients. They use a mix of local and imported ingredients; for example, our coffee is from Guatemala.
What is the most challenging part of owning a business in Shanghai?
I would have to say that it is a combo of sourcing ingredients with integrity. It is really hard to find suppliers you like and finding the best quality ingredients is the most important thing for my company. Also, finding a retaining great employees in China is hard because there is a lot of turn over with staff because they are very specialized. I want employees who have a passion for making a positive difference.
What is your favorite part about Lizzy’s?
I basically love every part except for accounting. I love recipe testing, interacting with my customers, and experimenting with different ingredients to fix customer’s problems. I love using food to heal others.
What are your plans for the future?
We are currently working on opening up our third location and a small kiosk for convenient access to offer smoother smoothies in the middle of Shanghai. We are also working on our new line of functional tea blends and probiotic products such as raw chocolate, kombucha and coconut yogurt.
What do you miss most about America?
Definitely my friends and family. I have been able to develop a new family here because everyone has come from so far and they all have such open minds and open hearts but I miss my family at home. And I really miss Whole Foods.
What advice do you have for people living abroad?
Make a commitment early on to stay in touch with friends and families and it is much easier to continue with it if you do it from the start. Definitely commit to weekly calls and emails to stay connected if you ever want to return and to also stay in touch. Also travel as much as possible and say yes to opportunities. Listen to the stories locals and travelers tell because you learn so much from other people, especially while you are abroad because everyone comes from different backgrounds.
What is the most important lesson you have learned while being abroad?
At the end of the day, you can’t control others around you so attitude is everything. By keeping a smile and a positive energy your life will continue to be meaningful. If you never accept that you can’t control everything around you, you’ll end up frustrated.
Accepting that I can only control myself has allowed me to wake up and appreciate everyday. Also, the city is changing so quickly and to that you are immune to the challenges that come with the change will leave you blindsided so staying humble is important as well.
If you are visiting or studying in Shanghai, visit Lizzy’s All Natural’s two locations to try the amazing smoothies.