Maribeny Jenis Otero took a setback in her life and turned it into an opportunity to help others improve their health. Jenis is a cancer survivor and overcoming the disease meant changing her diet with an emphasis on plant-based nutrition.
It would also lead her to create healthy juices she used to boost her health. When family and friends got a taste of her homemade beverages, they encouraged her to make them available to others as products to improve their own health and diet choices.
This was the beginning of B.veggie, a small business based in Mission that today produces cold-press juices featuring five flavors, with the beverages delivered to homes throughout the Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere via shipments. Jenis, a longtime McAllen/Mission area realtor, has ambitious plans to grow B.veggie beyond its current successes.
B.veggie is a 2018 Ruby Red Ventures winner and will use a $10,000 grant given by the Mission Economic Development Corporation to open a juice bar in the city in the coming months, and to increase production capacity. “We need to take the next step,” said Jenis, who is the owner/president of B.veggie. “We need to be in our place and produce every day.”
With additional equipment and a large freezer, Jenis and B.veggie will be able to do just that, with greater capacity to offer its five flavors derived from recipes that serve different functions. B.veggie offers its cold-press juices under the headings of slim, energetic, fresh, healthy and clean. The juices are delivered in colorful and stylish 16-ounce bottles and are sold individually or in packs.
The goal of the juices is to cleanse, detox and refresh, and the individual product choices have the ingredients to make that happen. The cleanse juice contains eight fruits and vegetables, including kale, spinach, celery, apple and ginger. The healthy heading beverage has beets, carrots, ginger and apple, with the energetic choice having orange, cucumber and vanilla to go with carrot.
The key to the juices is that they are all natural, unpasteurized with no artificial flavors or colors added, with all products made using cold-press technology. This method of production squeezes fruits and vegetables with thousands of pounds of force to extract as much juice as possible and keeping more nutrients and enzymes in the juices.
“The (cold-press) equipment is very expensive,” Jenis said, noting her products never use heat in the manufacturing process and are delivered frozen.
The MEDC grant will help with those costs. Beyond the success Jenis feels in growing her business, she is elated that her products are boosting awareness about making better health choices.
“We can see there’s a need in our area to get people more proactive about their health,” Jenis said. “The Valley is a place with too much diabetes and obesity. We see a need to get the word out that there are better options.”
Her determination and focus impressed MEDC officials, as well as the passion for her products.
“Maribeny and her team epitomize the small business, can-do entrepreneurial spirit here in Mission,” said Teclo Garcia, the director of strategic partnerships and program development for the MEDC. “She has taken her idea from scratch to substance in a short period of time.”
Looking back, Jenis is grateful for her journey in overcoming a serious illness from a decade ago. “It has been an opportunity to overcome what happened to me and help other people,” she said. “It has been a blessing.