Five years ago, Aileen Saucedo had a lot of unhealthy living habits. She was struggling with eczema flares-ups, feeling sluggish and out of sorts. During this time of struggle, as is true for many entrepreneurial ventures, a beautiful idea was born. Aileen’s answer: start cold-pressed juicing for herself, which then led to making juices for friends and family. All of this quickly turned into a business, Zeal Pressed Juicery.

Fast forward to the present: Zeal now has somewhat of a cult following. Saucedo already provides freshly made juice for an impressive list of clients but wants to serve even more. She has been working with architects and designers to create a beautiful, modern, glass-enclosed storefront downtown, near the corner of Chester Avenue and 18th Street. The shop is under construction.

Selfishly, I’m thrilled that Zeal will be opening a shop right by my office. As a big believer that we need more healthy alternatives to fast food, I think Zeal will help fill that void. And I’ve already personally committed to trying the three-day detox as soon as the new storefront opens. (I might regret publicly committing to this here. But is there really any better accountability than a promise in newsprint with readers as my witness?)

Aileen’s passion for juice is infectious. She recently upgraded to a large, industrial, Norwalk 280 cold-pressed juicer. Her flavors are seriously delicious 一 favorites include Morning Glory (with strawberries, orange, watermelon and mint), pineapple cucumber and orange strawberry basil. Read on if you’re curious what makes Aileen’s juice different and how she balances it all as an entrepreneurial mom with plenty of community involvement thrown in the mix.

Question: How would you describe the mission behind your business?

Answer: We seek to help clients run with zeal by providing a highly nutritious, grab-and-go, cold-pressed juice option that will fuel, heal and restore their bodies.

Q: I’ve heard you describe your juicing process and resulting juice as different than others in town. What sets your business apart?

A: We are committed to the process. We don't cut corners. Cold-pressed juice takes a long time to make so it is pressed in smaller batches and crafted to nourish your body. We build relationships with our clients and partner them with the right juice regimen to fuel their needs.

Q: What kind of obstacles did you overcome as an entrepreneur starting this business?

A: I've never really thought of myself as an “entrepreneur”, but I’ve always known that I am a hard worker. That's all I’ve ever known growing up.

Q: Why did you decide to open a Zeal brick-and-mortar shop downtown?

A: Because Austin Smith, my real estate broker, said I could do it! He believed in me, and at that moment, it was the permission I needed to go for it.

(Note from Anna: Yes, this is the same Austin that also happens to be my husband.)

Q: You are not from Bakersfield, if I remember correctly. What do you love about Bakersfield?

A: I love that Bakersfield has such high regard for community. Coming from a place (Los Angeles) where you are taught that we live in a dog-eat-dog world, I could not accept that as my truth. Bakersfield took me in, loved me, fed me and raised me when I truly ended up alone at the age of 17. And this is the place I have chosen to raise my family.

Q: You also serve as a local residential real estate agent. What led you to that work?

A: At 18, I became a receptionist in a lending/real estate office where I was exposed to the industry and worked on both sides, realizing that my passion was in building relationships with clients, dreaming together and handing them keys to their dream homes.

Q: You have two school-age children. How do you balance kids/family life and work?

A: Prioritizing. I'm a list person so a good-old written agenda mostly works for me. Knowing that I cannot do it all at the same time keeps me sane.

Q: Describe some of your community involvements.

A: I am part of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals; we advocate for Hispanic homeownership. I also love to serve in our local church (LifeHouse Church) in different areas of women’s ministry and leading life groups.

Q: Is Bakersfield a good place to start a business? Is there a lot of entrepreneurial opportunity here?

A: Absolutely! I think there's so much untapped potential in Bakersfield. Something I’ve heard from out-of-town clients is that they were under the impression that Bakersfield was a little town but in reality is a small big city full of opportunity for those who are open to dream.

Q: What do you want to be known for?

A: I want to be known (most importantly, by my girls) as a woman of God who through His mercy and grace pressed through and never gave up.

Q: Did anyone inspire you or encourage you to open this business? Do you have any mentors?

A: My Mastermind group of six women has met every week for lunch for years. They were the first to support this juice bar dream that began back in 2013. I’ve had great mentors along the way but I will say that the biggest one for me is Victor Vazquez of AgentCor Realty. He taught me so much about everything and was many times the voice of reason in my life. Other mentors I have are clients, friends, leadership in our church and podcasts I listen to religiously.

And just for fun…

Q: What is your personal favorite Zeal juice?

A: Lean Green, all day every day.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

A: Accepting Jesus as my lord and savior.

Q: One word to describe your current state of mind?

A: Grateful.

Q: What is your personal motto?

A: Don’t give up. Keep pressing.

Anna Smith writes a weekly column about Bakersfield. She can be reached at anna@sagebakersfield.com The opinions expressed are her own.

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