Kristine M. Kierzek
Jalen Greenlee embraces healthy habits in his daily life. But when he got to college, he saw healthy eating was an obstacle for many.
The more he learned, the more he wanted to create change. Looking for opportunities to build a business, the 21-year-old aspiring entrepreneur began thinking.
Tapping into his love of fresh fruit and wanting to make healthy eating more convenient, he launched Flora Fruit Co. in November. Based in Brown Deer, Flora Fruit Co. subscription boxes feature fresh fruit delivered to customers throughout southeastern Wisconsin and the Fox Cities region weekly, biweekly and on-demand. Prices start at $19.99, and delivery is free. To order, go to florafruitco.com.
I grew up in Brown Deer. I went to Brown Deer High School, graduated in 2017. I just turned 21 in August. I was a big sports guy in high school. I played basketball, then I went to River Falls to play basketball for two years. I stopped playing, and I transferred to UW-Oshkosh, a little closer to home. That’s where my entrepreneurial spirit took off. I was studying small business entrepreneurship. … I got a hold of some books, found some mentors and everything started to take off. Now I’m a full entrepreneur, and my focus is business and buying real estate. I’ll be purchasing my first home in January.
Starting a subscription business
I was brainstorming ideas. I just kept building on the idea to distribute fruit. … One goal would be every box I sell, I would want another box to be donated to a family in a food desert.
Focusing on fruit
I’m pretty passionate about health and wellness. I’ve always been interested in meal plans, health foods. I’m actually a vegetarian myself, always worked out my whole life. When I got to college I realized how unhealthy America was becoming. I saw so much more. I realized how a lot of people are obese. There’s something called the standard American diet, and it is a lot of processed foods, salty, sugary, foods that are unhealthy but accessible.
Healthy foods are not cheap, and (can be) inaccessible. I wanted to try to do something about the state of America and accessibility to healthy foods. I want to make healthy foods more convenient. My fruits are being delivered to customers’ doorsteps. I’m trying to keep margins down to keep prices as low as possible.
Something I really want to focus on in the future, being a Black man, I’m really tapped in to how the Black community has things called food deserts, like a grocery not in a five-mile radius. The Black community is much more obese than any other community in America, the unhealthiest, they die the youngest. I want to get more healthy foods to the Black urban communities as well.
Before I started I did some customer surveys just to see if this is a product customers would want. I sent the survey to about 50 friends and acquaintances. I got feedback on what fruits people would want. That’s what curated the boxes I have now.
I have five fruits that are in every box: bananas, apples, oranges, grapes and lemons. … The other fruits include three fruits in one box — pineapples, kiwi and avocados — those go with the others and make up the “immune booster” box. Then the “healthy human” box includes mangoes, pears and plums. Those are available year-round.
I’ll curate different boxes for different seasons in the coming months and years. We do have a product, Flora Your Way, where customers can customize their boxes.
Finding new flavors
I actually tried a dragon fruit a couple weeks ago. It is a very beautiful fruit, pink on the outside, white with black seed on the inside. It tasted like a kiwi. Being around the same fruit 24/7, packing it, eating leftovers, I wanted to branch out and try some lesser-known fruits.
How he incorporates fruit into his daily life
Even my parents get into this, and we make really big juices in the morning with the fruits. We eat lots of fruit. My dad and I will have these morning juicing sessions. My favorite would probably be an apple, orange with lemons and beets in it. That is a good start to the day.
The apple orchard in Green Bay, they give me a lot of different samples of a lot of apples I’d never heard of. I’ve been trying a lot of Macoun apples, and I really like those a lot. I have also been getting a yellow kiwi, that’s pretty good as well.
Beyond the boxes
A friend created the logo for me. We have our own grape bags. We do motivational postcards in the box each week. There is a fruit fact card that goes in the box. The other card is a motivational quote to start the customer’s week off and add a little personality to our boxes. If you go into my room right now, it is literally plastered with motivational quotes.
We deliver to all of southeastern Wisconsin, to Oshkosh, Fond du Lac, Kaukauna, Appleton and Neenah, the Fox Cities area.
We deliver every Sunday to southeastern Wisconsin customers, and every Wednesday to Fox Cities customers.
Fork. Spoon. Life. explores the everyday relationship that local notables (within the food community and without) have with food. To suggest future personalities to profile, email [email protected]