Running a business is no easy task, but for business owner Melodie Knapp, things seemed to fall right into place. Melodie created and owns Emerge Juice– an all-natural juice bar in Lafayette, and Tribe Collective– a creative and healing space for multiple health-conscious businesses. Each of these businesses have brought a level of holistic healing (physically, mentally, and emotionally) to Acadiana. While Melodie may run into challenges here and there, she is guided by her intuition and her passion for the people of Acadiana.
How did you get into juicing?
Juicing was something that was an accident, actually. I was teaching yoga and pilates at the time. While traveling with a friend we started to talk about juicing. I had been juicing for about a year or so on my own. I was experiencing a lot of changes and healing from juicing. I was like, this is so great. People need to get on this.
Sure enough after my friend and I were talking about it, friends would come by and leave jars on my porch for juices. Eventually they began to leave money in the jars, too. And I thought, wow, what is happening. My friend wanted to invest and bought me my own juicer. So we started out that way- as a company called Evolve. And then we became Emerge and we’ve been Emerge ever since.
We would go to farmers markets, and little restaurant brunches. We would serve our juice with alcohol. People would ask where to find us, and soon people were asking to take it home. And so we started doing juices in jars, and that is solely what we are doing now. Our juices are in glass containers for no toxicity. We do only organic produces and that’s the focus of what we do.
Tell me more about Tribe Collective? How did that form and how is it connected to Emerge Juice?
We started because I had a juice company, but we weren’t big enough to sustain a location. I didn’t know anything about having a full-on location. I was inside of a friend’s bakery space, and she and I were together along with a coffee roaster. At some point, the building was up for sale and we had to all move. The coffee roasters (Rev Roasters downtown) and us decided to stay together. We rebranded and became Tribe Collective. Like many beautiful things in this world, Tribe Collective came out of a need.
You have such an interesting slogan. Can you explain the meaning?
Yes of course. I’ll start with the name Tribe. So, “tribe” is the idea that we are small tribes everywhere. We may not be indigenous tribes, but we are our own tribes and social circles. By coming together, there’s the idea that we can elevate each other’s consciousness. Then there’s the slogan: Truth. Tribute. Triumph. Each word has a specific meaning for us.
Truth: Be truthful to yourself and truthful with others.
Tribute: Offer tribute to others for the work that they’ve done and to encourage them to continue growing.
Triumph: This is not you win or I win, but that we all win together. TRIumph because the business started as three businesses coming into one.
Do you have any favorite moments from your time running this business?
One thing that happens often, is that people come in with kids who are gluten free or have Celiacs and they’re told that they can eat anything out of the case. Watching their faces light up...I have to hold back tears just thinking about it...I’ll never forget this one girl told me “I feel like I’m normal here”. She can't have what everyone else is having at birthdays and that sort of thing. Or she chooses to eat something she can’t and she’s home sick for days. So experiences like that are beautiful. You know that when you come here, you have a safe haven. That’s so beautiful as far as tribe goes.
Another thing is the people we’ve gotten to work with who are sick in other ways, whether it’s mentally or emotionally. They come in and shop and love the way that they feel welcomed by us or that we have a lot of information to tune into them and see what they need. They’ll come back after having tests run and tell us that they’re doing better already. So getting those kind of encouraging things is really amazing.
Another thing that is beautiful is watching lives change. Like, customers will start doing yoga or become yoga teachers or start eating in a way that leads their family towards healing. When you change your food you change your life and the lives of those around you. I’ve had several customers who had cancer, but are in remission now.
What do you love about being a local business in Acadiana?
Oh, I found myself here in Lafayette. I’m from Baton Rouge originally, but I never really discovered who I was in Baton Rouge. I came to Lafayette kicking and screaming, but once I started to meet people who were conscious, they taught me how to see “Well who are you for real?”. I love the people here and their ability to be down-home and honest. In the business community, when I started out I received support from local business owners that created such a fertile ground for me. They were so eager to show me the ropes and become something. I remember thinking, oh Lord I’m trying to start a juice bar in the deep-fried South. What am I thinking? But being at the farmers market, and being out at community events just really showed me that anyone could achieve anything. Everyone knows everyone and it’s a supportive knowing.
Cajun people just have a common sense about stuff. They have no shame in being honest. It’s something we as a society shy away from. It’s nice to have these cool Cajun people who just speak and make so much sense. It’s just interesting the way the people here are. I just love it and I'm grateful for it.
Melodie has a heart for Acadians and their mental, physical, and emotional health. She shows this in the way she runs her business and serves the community through Tribe Collective and Emerge Juice. It’s local businesses like these that are the perfect example of why Towny exists– we believe the more a community supports it’s local businesses, the more those local businesses will thrive, and the more the community benefits in return. It’s all a cycle. Download Towny to learn more about our mission and to stay connected with passionate, local businesses (just like Melodie’s!).