Ju Mui LLC
Edna Ching | September 4 , 2020
Drive, perseverance and hard work are the main components to the success of Ju-Mui LLC. They are embedded in its tagline, “Driven to Suckseed.” While having no business background or experience in the food manufacturing industry, Jan Yee and her family took a leap of faith and plunged into the unknown. However, Yee leaned on other work experiences – from her first job at McDonald’s Kahala to her first office job at a CPA firm to being a Police Reporter – to help guide herself and her family through the process of building a successful business.
For Yee and her husband Randal, family was number one. Both were very involved with their son’s volleyball aspirations. Being that competition can be incredibly intense, they made sure he knew that they had their full support. The couple attended every game and even traveled to the neighbor islands to cheer him on. And it was at a Hilo game where they were introduced to a unique ice pop that resident athletes regularly enjoyed.
As they returned home, all they could think about were those ice pops. So, they tried to experiment with making some of their own. The mission was not to duplicate the pops they had on Hilo but make ones that were equally or even more delicious. Ones that they can call their own. Once they were satisfied with their recipes, they took it to market.
They branded their popsicles Ju-Mui which represented two main ingredients – JUice and Li-Hing MUI. The first batches were sold to their son’s volleyball club fundraiser in 2006. Word got out; and they received more orders from other teams and individual customers. At the time each popsicle was hand made one at a time in a very small kitchen. The process required patience as each required liquid to be cautiously ladled into individual tubes.
Fast forward to 2012, Yee received an email from Russell Ishimoto who was the Ice Cream Novelty Category Manager for 7-Eleven Hawaii. He wanted to set up a meeting with Yee to explore the possibility of having her Ju-Mui Ice Pops to be sold at 7-Eleven Hawaii. Yee was skeptical but went ahead and met with Ishimoto. To her surprise, 7-Eleven Hawaii was very serious. Ishimoto explained that her flavors were unique, and he knew that 7-Eleven Hawaii’s customers would love them.
Yee was ecstatic about the partnership with 7-Eleven Hawaii. However, ramping up inventory in a small kitchen became an unavoidable hurdle. Yee told Ishimoto that the quantities that 7-Eleven Hawaii needed required a larger kitchen which she hoped to find. He understood and was patient. In the meantime, Ishimoto walked Yee through 7-Eleven Hawaii’s vendor onboarding process and connected her with frozen distributor, Eight Point Distributors.
It was a blessing when the commercial kitchen at Pacific Gateway gave her space to expand production. That was the green light! It took about 4 months to get Ju-Mui ice pops into 7-Eleven Hawaii stores, but all the hard work and invested time paid off. By word of mouth and with the help of Eight Point’s client portfolio, Ju-Mui can now be found in many other retailers like Longs Drugs Hawaii, Times Supermarket and some smaller grocery stores. This is not the end of Ju-Mui’s story, but its first few chapters are definitely reflective of its tagline, “Driven to Suckseed.”
For more information, visit www.ju-mui.com.