She may have left school with no qualification but entrepeneur Germaine Smith is a big success. Catherine Scott reports.
Germaine Smith was a school drop out, but now the mum of two is owner of a multi-million health food business.
Germaine started JuicetoU at her kitchen table in Sheffield three years ago with a £20 juicer from Tesco.
It’s now the go-to product for health-conscious people across the UK - and an ever-growing celebrity following that spans pop stars to the cast of TOWIE.
One of a family of six with a single mother, Germaine grew up in Sheffield’s Parkhill, struggled with dyslexia and left Hurlfield School (now Springs Academy) armed with an abysmal attendance record and not a single qualification.
But within months she had her own vintage stall in Chesterfield market. By 18 she had set up a second-hand shop at Crookes.
After the birth of her first daughter Molly, now 21, single parent Germaine set up a children’s dress agency. With a start-up grant from the Prince’s Trust she launched a tanning and beauty salon which ran until she had her second daughter Macie, now 11.
However after her designer lingerie shop on Ecclesall Road folded leaving her with personal debts of £80,000, she resolved not to go into business again and focused on her own health instead. Things didn’t quite go to plan.
“I try to stay slim and healthy so I bought a £20 juicer from Tesco and after a juicing diet friends asked if I’d had a facial because my skin was glowing, and how I had lost weight,” she says. “They started placing orders. Before I knew it, I was hand-peeling huge bags of fruit and veg from Sheffield market, juicing it in my little Tesco gadget and bottling it for them. I was spending ten hours several days a week making juices when I realised I was crazy not to go into business again.” She called in a nutritionist, researched guidelines from Trading Standards, found premises, a courier company and had packaging designed inside four weeks.
Her celebrity clientele started when friend and TV personality Nicola Mclean, tried JuicetoU in 2012. She tweeted about its complexion-boosting, weight-busting properties and friends of the former I’m a Celebrity and Big Brother contestant clamouring for “the miracle juice” crashed Germaine’s website.
The smart-thinking mum of two then ensured the entire cast of TOWIE had a pack of her detox juices on their doorsteps on their return from filming a hedonistic Towie Vegas special and business soared.
She now has a factory unit off Abbeydale Road and more than 100,000 juices have been sold.
“I’ve never called myself an entrepreneur - I didn’t even know what it meant until I was called it by a Manchester corporate investment company who wanted to buy in,” she grins. “I now realise that’s what I’ve been since I was 13.” Germaine chose not to allow the investors in and continues to grow the JuicetoU brand herself.