By Paul Martell
Caitlin James and her four sisters see the need for wellness in our society. For this reason, Drought came into existence. Drought is an organic, raw juice company which is run by the James sisters
“If the idea ‘how you do one thing is how you do everything’ holds any truth, then wouldn’t maintaining your wellness fall in line with maintaining your relationships, your hopes and your dreams?”
Caitlin James is a motivated person, and one of five sisters in the James family. Success has come as a byproduct of her desire to enjoy and experience life in a healthful way. Caitlin’s interests include running, yoga, nutrition, meditation and juice. However, with a growing company to run, Caitlin says, “Making time for free time is now a hobby of mine.”
Caitlin’s day starts around 4:30 a.m. when she wakes up and goes to work. Her entire day will be centered on DROUGHT, the raw juice business she started with her sisters back in 2011. She will coordinate all deliveries for the day, and then head to the DROUGHT store located in Plymouth where she will likely spend the rest of her shift, which ends around midnight. Despite this long schedule, Caitlin says, “There are no real weekends yet, but I do have the freedom to take a day off whenever I like. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”
Unlike many business start-ups, DROUGHT is experiencing large amounts of success, and is projected to continue to grow. This feat has been accomplished by one family with five sisters, (two of them are EMU alumni) a common goal, and some really great juice.
Caitlin graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2007 with a degree in special education. She enjoyed EMU because attending class in Ypsilanti allowed her to still live at home with her close-knit family in Plymouth. “It was easy for me to pick special education once I got there…I wanted to do something that was helpful and meaningful to others. Also Jane (a James sister) took it, and she is someone I really look up to.” While working in the Special Education program, Caitlin had an experience which would lead to the DROUGHT concept.
“One association I make between DROUGHT and EMU happened while I was studying cognitive impairment,” said Caitlin, “Right after I started, I worked with autistic kids; most were on a vegan diet. It was something I had dabbled with in my personal life. It caught my interest, and got me really into nutrition which is what I am doing now. “
After Caitlin graduated, but before she started DROUGHT, she wanted to explore life outside Metro Detroit. So she joined the Peace Corps. There she served in Jordan, right on the border of the Dead Sea, as a special education teacher. She resided there for two years. Caitlin said, “I lived in a very small village, and learned to live on very little to nothing. It taught me to be extremely resourceful. “
Two years later, she came home and decided to go back to school in New York. However, that plan would not work out because Caitlin and the rest of the James sisters were all thinking of something else. They wanted to start a business, and they wanted to promote health.
“I can never explain it and not make it sound too simple. We were all on the same page…We were going to have a stand at the farmer’s market and sell juice. In just a matter of days that plan started to evolve,” said Caitlin. And this is how DROUGHT was conceived, a family of educated sisters, all putting their minds together. Before long, Caitlin and her sisters realized their idea was now much larger than a stand at a market. They needed a formal business plan, and they needed funding. The sisters turned to Kickstarter, a web site for individuals to make small investments toward start-ups. The Kickstarter community loved the Drought concept so much, in one month the girls raised $13,000.
Today, Caitlin runs DROUGHT with her sisters, and business is expanding steadily. In a year’s time, they have gone from two employees to seven, and are now selling in Detroit’s Eastern Market, Plum Market in Ann Arbor, their storefront in Plymouth, and Detroit is coming this June.
DROUGHT is pure, cold-pressed, organic, raw juice and Caitlin is confident in her product. “DROUGHT is going to the moon,” said Caitlin, “Our product is a premium product, and we are very specific about how it is made. People are realizing they need to drink more wisely, and this is a product for everyone.”
Caitlin’s experiences have taken her from Plymouth to Ypsilanti, across the Middle East, to New York, and then back to Metro Detroit. Every new task and location has added to whom she is today. EMU is proud to be part of DROUGHT’s inception and to have provided Caitlin with practical skills and experience she still uses.
Caitlin James has been featured in Crain’s Detroit Business “Twenty in their 20s” which celebrates highly successful individuals in their twenties. She was also invited to sit on the Entrepreneur Panel in the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference.
If you would like to learn more about Caitlin, DROUGHT, Jessie, Jenny, Julie, or Jane just check out the following:
By Paul Martell