Emma Reinbold wears her heart on her sleeve and it shows through in her new business, Just Bee Açaí, a health-food truck in Champaign-Urbana that specializes in Brazilian açaí bowls, loaded oats, and hearty toasts.
The Instagram-worthy yellow and white camper can be spotted parked in different locations across Campustown throughout the week and has proven to be a hit amongst CU residents and students alike. With a menu consisting of names like “BEE Original,” “BEE Powerful,” and “BEE Sweet,” an overarching theme of positivity and happiness is integrated into all aspects of the business Reinbold runs with her sister, Cassie.
“We’ve both always been very strong in our faith, and that’s always been our foundation with everything that we do,” Reinbold said. “I think society always pressures you to back down when it comes to integrating your beliefs in your business, but our mentality is ‘[our beliefs] are the
reason we’re here, so we have to embed that in all that we do.’”
Reinbold, a former teacher, never pictured herself as a business owner.
“I thought I was going to teach my entire life,” she said. “That’s what I always envisioned myself doing. But, I always had this itch to create, and to do it in a way that I’d be able to connect with other people. I thought, what better way to connect with people than with food?”
When most people think of food trucks, it’s usually greasy, unhealthy, fast-food that comes to mind. When asked what sparked the idea for a food truck that serves superfood, Reinbold said healthy-eating has always been very important to her.
“I’ve always had a passion for eating very wholesomely and clean because ultimately food is medicine for the body,” she said. “In this day and age, we just neglect that fact.”
“I believe healthy eating doesn’t need to be challenging, so I wanted to create an easy route — so people can get something healthy on the go, that they could even take to class,” she said.
The mobility of a food truck was very important in the creation of Just Bee Acai.
“We love the idea that we can go to people, they don’t have to come to us. It’s so cool that we can bring what we’re trying to show the community straight to them,” Reinbold said. “They don’t have to come to us, we can go to them. It has also allowed us to do so many big community events and spread our message more widely.”
Reinbold says her family, especially her sister Cassie, are an integral part of the day-to-day aspects of the business.
“Family was very supportive from day one, and they pushed me to make my dream a reality,” Reinbold said, with sister Cassie, by her side.
Cassie, whose husband owns a Brazilian jiu-jitsu club in Champaign-Urbana, also has a passion for healthy living. The sisters, who grew up very close, have always dreamed of working side-by-side.
“When people ask us ‘why did you start this business’ we think it’s so funny because it was basically so that we could work together,” Reinbold said. “We [can’t believe] we used to struggle finding time for coffee dates, and now we work together every day in this small 4 by 6 area. It’s
the biggest blessing in the world.”
One of their favorite parts of working together is coming up with quirky and empowering names for the menu — their most popular dish, the “BEE Sassy” was inspired by Cassie, who’s childhood nickname was “Sassy Cassie.” They also enjoy going to the farmer’s market together on Saturday mornings, to walk around and find local produce for the week.
Though the sisters are primarily healthy eaters who rarely get the urge to eat fast-food, they admit they like to indulge occasionally. Their guilty pleasures are the cheese curds from Seven Saints, a CU bar, or pastries from Hopscotch, a local bakery.
“[When it comes to healthy eating], start simple, meal prep, and don’t be afraid to give yourself a cheat day,” Reinbold said.
As an entrepreneur, Emma Reinbold is transparent about the steps she took to make her dream a reality. She encourages young entrepreneurs never to back down in fear.
“The entrepreneurial path is often discouraged in this day and age and there’s so much pressure to get a degree with a set path because otherwise, you’re stepping into the unknown,” she said. “Don’t be afraid of it, because there are so many resources you can find in your community.”
Reinbold enlisted the support from the people around her to help get her business started.
“I spent the last year going to networking meetings and trying to get all the knowledge I could get through the people I connected with,” she says. “I learn something new every day. Creating this brand has been my favorite part of the process.”
In everything she does, Reinbold holds on to the overall message of Just Bee Acai, to “just be.”
“Our message is to just be bold in who you are, regardless of what others are going to think, or how they’ll judge you based off of it,” she said. “Be powerful, be original, be you.”
-Written by Sofiya Affey