By Paul Holston
Posted 10:00 PM EST, Weds. Mar 30, 2016
Updated 6:15 PM EST, Sun. May 1, 2016
From the eye-catching lemon yellow and lime green exterior, to the relaxed interior layout to allow customers to unwind, to the mix of R&B, Jazz and Neo-Soul playing in the background, Turning Natural juice bar at 2025 MLK Jr. Ave SE brings a healthy breath of fresh air to the Southeast community.
“King Kong Kale,” “Swizzz Beatz,” “Beta Bomb,” “Green Latifah,” “Chill Pill,” “Marion Barry” and “Reese Pleases” are some of the many unique juices and smoothies customers can purchase at the newly located juice bar in Ward 8. This particular location which opened in December of last year is the company’s first in D.C., with their original juice bar in Forestville, Md.
“The energy is just right and it fits,” said Turning Natural owner Jerri Evans, who is a Ward 8 native who grew up between the intersection of 16th St. SE and Good Hope Rd. SE.
Turning Natural offers a vast variety of juices and smoothies that contain specific ingredients in each selection; all containing freshly pressed organic fruits & vegetables.
Each choice is designed to not only satisfy one’s appetite and craving, but to also influence and empower a healthy choice in nutrition. In addition, the bar offers juice cleanse options that range from three to seven days, vegan food selections, as well as an online carryout ordering.
Annette Turner, Evans’ mother, is the creator behind Turning Natural when she founded the business back in 2005. According to Evans, her mother created Turning Natural to bring a holistic lifestyle to everyday living after she was diagnosed with Stage II Breast Cancer in 2001.
After a long battle with the ailment, Turner transitioned in 2010, which inspired Evans to continue the legacy of her mother’s business.
“Watching her make the transition was a transition in itself. Life became very dark [after her death] and I was trying to figure things out and wanted to make life matter again…to feel something,” said Evans.
And so Evans did, as during this time she was internally struggling while living in Atlanta, Ga. aspiring to be an aeronautical engineer. She graduated prior from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tenn. studying aeronautical industry technology.
She then made the drastic decision to not allow her mother’s dream to die in vain, as she packed her things, quit her job in Atlanta, moved back to Washington, D.C., and went with her gut feeling of deciding to continue her mother’s enterprise.
“It was when I was sitting at my desk during work and heard clear as day in my head saying ‘What are you doing here?’ And that’s when I decided to just go,” said Evans.
From now going from an engineer to a farmer and businesswoman, Evans found a new motivation through Turning Natural.
“Because I’m an engineer, by trade my logic is different. And so I said if I can get people to change the way that they eat, they’ll eat better and make better choices,” said Evans.
What makes Turning Natural stand out amongst other healthy establishments within D.C. is that on its second floor, it has a residence naturopathic doctor that is able to advise customers on alternative health options such as natural medicine.
“The doctor is one of the few individuals who has the same training as a medical doctor, but they’re more focused on natural medicine such as herbs, etc.,” said Evans. “Its so great to have her in conjunction of our business. It’s very important because you have certain things beyond us in terms of education.”
“The naturopathic doctor opens up the conversation and starts the discussion about health and also brings conversation for health in that aspect,” said Terranie Sims, executive assistant of Turning Natural and a Howard University senior psychology major.
From the positive impact it has with its employees to the well-received positive reviews from the surrounding community, Turning Natural intends to stay and further contribute to emphasizing on not only healthy choices, but also inspiring a holistic lifestyle.
Daryl Brounson, a Northeast, D.C. resident and station manager with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), was surprised, but glad that Turning Natural decided to open a bar in Southeast.
“It was surprising for me that they chose this area, but then being the people who they are and the fact that they are pro-Black, pro-health and pro-living, it wasn’t a surprise to me anymore,” said Brounson. “This is the best place they can be because this area needs it more than any other area in D.C.”
Sims also expressed that in the community of Ward 8, Turning Natural is among many important establishments that it so desperately needs. According to CNBC, minority businesses make up almost 15 percent of the 28 million small businesses in the United States. There are over 15,000 African-American business firms in D.C. according to a U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners.
“To me, I think its something that’s really phenomenal,” she said. “With Turning Natural being here, I think its something that’s really transformative and amazing because it allows people to have access to [healthy options].
“One of my rules is you are a living entity. If you make the decision to go healthy, take it one step at a time. But make the decision and maintain it,” said Evans.
Looking towards the future, Evans intends on opening an additional 16 stores across the DMV area and also intends on doing more community-based involvement with the business.