Malaika Kashaka’s Southeast Raleigh shop offers fruit forward smoothies, old-world health remedies and support to nearby neighbors.
by Courtney Napier | photography by Joshua Steadman
Juiced Juice Bar is a whole vibe: neo-soul music, bright-yet-homey decor, a gentle scent of lavender. The chalkboard menu hanging over the counter boasts tempting descriptions of smoothies and beverages, like Ginger Glow (made with fresh ginger root, green apple and mango) and Berry Boost (blueberries, strawberries and cranberries). This health enthusiast’s wonderland on Rock Quarry Road was designed both as a store and gathering space, with a book corner and booth covered in comfy pillows, and a learning nook for the youngest customers.
Juiced is the brainchild of Malaika Kashaka, a vibrant 50-year-old and native of Queens, New York. The serial entrepreneur has worked in modeling, retail management and as a salon owner. And it was in this latest role, at BLC Gallery Salon and Spa, that the idea for a smoothie shop started to take shape. As Kashaka worked, she’d speak with clients about their health concerns, offering nutrition advice and traditional remedies.
Her suggestions were rooted in her childhood: Kashaka’s parents were part of the Black Consciousness Movement of the 1960s and ’70s, admirers of Afrocentric scholars like Dr. Henrik Clarke and herbalist Queen Afua. One of the movement’s principles is that food is medicine. “I grew up around people who ate well,” says Kashaka. “They understood the importance of predominantly eating foods that grow from the ground.”
But to take the leap from offering advice to offering the goods took a little push. Last fall, longtime friend Kim Coles—the actress best known for Living Single—was in town for a visit. “You’re selfish for delaying the opening of your smoothie shop!” Coles said to Kashaka, “You have things that are going to be healing people.” That friendly admonition propelled her to take the leap. Juiced opened in November with little fanfare. “I was just trying to offer natural smoothies and cold-pressed juice to my clients,” Kashaka says. But as salon-goers spread the word about her nourishing smoothies, Juiced’s following expanded into the community—and she broadened its offerings, as well.
Today, alongside the filler-free smoothies, you’ll find all manner of health foods and supplements, from elderberry syrup to sea moss gel, to herbal medicinal teas with therapeutic properties that Kashaka learned of in her childhood, like anti-inflammatory Yarrow flower and immune boosting Cat’s Claw vine. “Now, juices and smoothies are only about 15% of my business,” Kashaka says.
Juiced exists, Kashaka says, because the community needed the healing it could provide: to their relationship with their bodies and with each other. “Our motto here is By us, for everyone,” Kashaka says. Over 40 local Black-owned businesses advertise on Juiced’s community bulletin board, and she carries many of their products in the store, including Part-Time Vegan by Chef Neki, Dee’s Kitchen Sweet Treats and Nature’s 360 Muscadine Juice.
Kashaka makes a point to hire from within the neighborhood, and particularly young people of color. “It’s like getting two birds with one stone, because now you’re creating jobs. It is such a good feeling, especially for young Black males,” says Kashaka. “They have to be equipped really young to be successful.” Working at Juiced is opportunity, she says, to foster skills like customer service and accountability for future careers. Kashaka finds particular joy in empowering children and parents to see themselves as worthy of care and wellness.
“I have a board up in the shop that says, Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate,” she says. When speaking to parents about creating healthy habits with their kids, she suggests getting a blender and letting smoothies replace sweet treats and snacks. “Let it be their blender! Throw in an apple, a banana, some pineapple, and they can gulp that all day!” she says. “It’s really about getting a routine going and starting to teach the kid—then they grow up to be adults who eat healthily.”
Like small business owners all over the city, Kashaka has found creative ways to keep the doors open through pandemic restrictions. In March, Juiced media and over the phone, and folks would pick up their fresh smoothies curbside. Kashaka has also been using the lawn in front of her shop to hold small events with other local businesses focused on health and wellness. The culture of healthy living and neighborliness that Juiced has built within her Southeast Raleigh community is Kashaka’s favorite part about owning the store. “Each one helping another one,” she describes. “I think that’s what brings me to tears sometimes. It is just amazing.”
Juiced Juice Bar is, in many ways, a thank you for the gift Kashaka was given by her Raleigh community. When she moved to this area in the early 2000s, she says, “I was just taken by how green it was.” Living in the City of Oaks felt like receiving “nature’s medicine” after being in the concrete jungle—and now she is passing that along to everyone who walks in her doors. What started as a loving gesture to her salon clients has quickly made a substantial impact on the entire area. “Not only does Juiced attract the people who are already health-conscious, but it attracts those who are looking to learn healthier habits. That’s the part that has grabbed my heart because the conversations that transpire in here are so amazing,” says Kashaka. “When someone knowledgeable gets with someone who’s looking for help, I sit back, and I’m just like, holy smokes!—we’re meant to be here, you know?”