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About Highway to Well

 

In 2007 Zoe Sakoutis and Erica Huss founded BluePrintCleanse, cementing their legacy as pioneers in the now multi-billion dollar cold pressed juice industry. After five years of unprecedented growth they sold BluePrint in December of 2012, marking one of the few times they’ve left before the party was over. Now they’re back to talk with some of the most notable, intriguing and controversial guests from the world of wellness, drawing out the personal stories behind the brands, fads and faces of this rapidly evolving industry.   

 
 

As female entrepreneurs who have been in the trenches of “The Business of Being Well” themselves, they’re bringing their battle-tested point of view to the podcast world, striking a healthy balance between snark and sincerity with a giant dose of genuine curiosity.  Welcome to Highway To Well.  

 
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Zoë Sakoutis

Cocktail :

Mezcal on the rocks (preferably Gem and Bolt)

Juice :

kale / spinach / romaine / cucumber / parsley / celery / apple / lemon

Quote :

“I like a bartender who drinks. Otherwise I feel like I’m being poisoned."

- Kicking and Screaming (1995)

Happy Place :

Upstate house in the woods with good food and good people.

 

Zoe’s first foray into the world of entrepreneurship came at 12, in canine form, when she set up a dog grooming shop in the basement of her town’s optometry center in Milford, Pennsylvania. The youngest of four kids raised by a single mother, Zoe saw a connection between health and wealth early on, realizing that fresh food is fundamental to a longer life. This realization was underscored by the death of Al, her almost-step dad, who died of cancer all too young. The seed of democratizing health and bringing it to the masses was planted… and then (in true teenager fashion) flung into a pile of clothes and ignored for years to come. 

 
 

Arriving in New York City at 18 with a fake ID and a heart full of hustle, Zoe spent the next five years working in hospitality in some of the most high-profile hotels and bars of the early aughts while half-heartedly earning a “sensible” degree in communications. Around the age of 20, inspired by a hippie ex-boyfriend who had illustrated the benefits of replacing hair of the dog with juice of the kale, Zoe bought a juicer and went from carnivore to 100% raw foodist overnight. She juiced. She cleansed. She self-educated, reading everything she could find on the subject of “let food be thy medicine,” even Hippocrates himself. Amazed at how AMAZING she felt Zoe immediately started torturing everyone she knew with endless sermons on the AMAZING benefits of raw food and intermittent fasting (a.k.a. a juice cleanse). But out-numbering the eye-rollers were the genuinely curious so, in order to better answer their questions (and make some money getting people healthy as opposed to drunk) Zoe solidified her street cred by becoming a certified nutritional consultant.  

 
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A shameless fan of Broadway musicals and funny looking dogs, Zoe has a knack for accents and a weakness for fancy cheese.

She lives in Brooklyn in the house that BluePrint built with her husband, two children, and snoring, funny-faced dog.

 
 

Zoe had her "A-ha" moment while attending the Ann Wigmore Natural Health Institute in Puerto Rico where she witnessed first hand how a diet of raw food and wheat grass therapy drastically improved the heath of patients with terminal conditions. That meant she had to find a way to bring raw juice cleansing to “normal people”.  With a focus on prevention, education and convenience, the early blueprints of BluePrint did away with the dogma and extreme language prevalent in the fringe raw food community. When it came time to bottle her elixir, Zoe channeled her aesthetic sensibilities from her dog groomer days and wrapped it all up in packaging so pretty you’d think Steve Jobs himself was behind the wheel. 

 
 

In early 2006, just as the The Real Housewives franchise was getting underway, Zoe teamed up with some housewives of her own. A group of women in Darien, Connecticut became early BluePrint adoptees, providing feedback on the juice cleanse program she was whipping up in her test kitchen in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Word of mouth spread quickly and customers kept repeating. When Time Out New York asked Zoe for a press release, Zoe asked Erica Huss, her friend in PR: “What’s a press release?” Pooling their complimentary skill sets, Erica and Zoe partnered up in 2007 and blew the patchouli dust off the hippie raw food ways of the past. Flash forward eleven years and even your MeeMaw knows what a juice cleanse is. You can thank (or blame) Zoe for that. 

 
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Erica Huss

Cocktail :

Depends on the day! Sometimes it's a Mezcal Negroni with a lemon twist and sometimes you can't go wrong with an ice-cold martini with the salty olives from Sahadi's.

Juice :

Coconut water. Like, from a coconut.

Quote :

“Everything in moderation--including moderation.”

- Julia Child

Happy Place :

River / ocean / poolside / 80 degrees. Friends nearby, cocktail in hand.

 

As a native New Yorker, Erica’s discerning palate came compliments of her parents, both ad industry self-starters whose cocktail parties in the 80s set the stage for Erica’s love of cheese plates, socializing and the gentle clink of ice in a glass, her preferred Sleep Sound setting. Her mother would fill her lunchbox with leftover canapés from the previous evening’s soiree, while her father instilled in her the profound understanding of food as medicine through countless hours she spent stroller-side as he perused the aisles at the local hippie grocers. The yin and yang notions of live-to-eat and eat-to-live struck early and stuck. 

 
 

The only child of these two trailblazers, it was never a question of if, just when and how Erica would become her own boss. But first she had some dancing to do. After training at the Joffrey Ballet, Steps and the National Dance Institute from age three through high school, Erica headed for Northwestern University, majoring in Theatre and French. Upon graduation, she promptly fell down the rabbit hole that leads to Missouri and found herself in Branson, (A.K.A. the Vegas of the Bible Belt) landing a job as a showgirl. For two years she danced and sang clad in feathers, top hats, 8 different types of dance shoes and two layers of bodysuits under every costume—there in God’s Country, the rule was, “No Ninnies and No Baskets” should be seen onstage.  Crack that puritanical code…

 

Performing 12 shows a week meant staying fueled was critical, and as most of Branson’s culinary offerings were of the Old Country Buffet variety, Erica took to hosting dinner parties, scouring Missouri for specialty ingredients in order to make beautiful healthy meals that were nutritious and fresh and not a Pocket. She made amazing money, amazing friends and amazing pictures for Throwback Thursday. And then, like many before her, she saw the lights dim, heard the music fade and realized… she had to get the F out of the Ozarks. 

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A recent psychic reading told Erica she is a warrior and protector of those who don't have a voice, equal parts Chanel girl and hippie, and through written and spoken word, she is the Great Communicator, here to help people understand. Erica thinks this is pretty cool.

She is certified in yoga, holistic nutrition and saké, which kind of sums it all up… She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two cats and a closetful of top hats.

 

Although speaking French does not make for a viable backup career, restaurant work does and sometimes you can speak French there, so in 2000 she moved back to New York City and got a job at the Hudson Hotel to supplement her day job in film marketing. She met Zoe on her first day of training and a friendship was born. Erica fell in love with the service industry (said no one ever), mainly because she kind of kicked ass at it.  She loved engaging with the customers, even the assholes---the greater the challenge.  She remembered people from one visit to the next, their favorite order, their garnish, and saw how the details made the difference to them and to her bank account.  She learned how to put the Huss in hustle. 

 
 

After rounding out her resume with management stints at Morgans Hotel Group, she combined her two worlds; first with a gig in food TV on Lidia’s Italy and from there segued into food PR, representing notable NYC chefs and restaurants as well as brands such as Target and Robert Mondavi Wines.  While she loved the storytelling aspect of it all, her entrepreneurial spirit was getting restless, and she found the corporate environment stifling, not to mention the office attire--no ninnies allowed there either! 

 

Enter Zoe, who was in need of an ambitious and PR-minded partner, versed in both healthy foods and hospitality to bring her juice cleanse concept to fruition. Their skill sets aligned like organic peas and carrots, the two teamed up to formally launch BluePrint Cleanse in 2007. Heralded as pioneers in the pressed juice sector, Zoe and Erica scaled the business from a New York City delivery concept to a nationally recognized brand. Fully bootstrapped from the start, the category-creating company was acquired in 2012.