With the fall semester underway at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville is home to a new crop of students, including those joining the Darden School of Business. Just a few years ago, Hillary Lewis was one of those students, moving to Charlottesville from New York City, drawn by Darden’s case-study approach and open-door access to faculty. Once here, she thrived.
“I was challenged,” she recalls. “I was challenged by my peers; I was challenged by the work. There’s an element of competition, but it’s friendly competition. There’s genuine interest in seeing everyone better themselves because together we were growing and improving our ability to learn.”
In the spring of 2013, as she finished her MBA program at Darden, Hillary was searching for an idea—an entrepreneurial endeavor into which she could pour her passion and enthusiasm. It was during that spring that the idea for Lumi Juice—a cold-pressed, organic, high-pressure processed juice company—was born. With the guidance and support of faculty members at Darden, Hillary’s idea came to fruition quickly over the course of the summer, evolving over the course of only a few weeks from a concept to a full-fledged company with a production facility located right in the Woolen Mills neighborhood of Charlottesville.
Lumi received its first retail order in late October 2013, and since that time, it has been making waves throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Lumi Juice is sold in over 100 grocery retailers in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, and Washington, D.C.—including both independent and regional grocery stores like Whole Foods Market, Safeway, Relay Foods, and Fresh Direct. To say it is a local success story would be an understatement.
Darden’s faculty and staff remain enthusiastic supporters of Hillary and Lumi Juice, and the school sponsored a story about Lumi in the second volume of Our Local Commons—Charlottesville, which arrives in early September and is available for preorder now.
Hillary feels that Darden, and Charlottesville, are integral parts of Lumi’s success. “I love Charlottesville,” she says. “I think Darden has a huge role in the intellectual capital that comes through here. I couldn’t pick a better place to call home.”