Spotlight: Former Russian Ballerina Develops Yuve Nutritional Products

yuve shakes

When Russian ballerina Lola Sherunkova moved to the U.S., the transition took a bit of a toll on her health. Since she wasn’t keeping up the same level of physical activity, she felt the need to improve her nutrition. After consulting with nutritionists, Sherunkova came up with a better way to consume all of the essential ingredients the body requires to sustain health and youthfulness.

Her company and product is called Yuve. Read more about the product and Sherunkova’s journey to entrepreneurship in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Sells nutritional shakes with natural ingredients.

Yuve shakes are made from dehydrated fruits and vegetables, along with other quality ingredients. It can be mixed with water, milk, smoothies, oatmeal, or as an ingredient in different recipes.

Business Niche

Using natural ingredients.

Yuve includes things like brown rice protein, goji berries and chia seeds. The mixture is intended not only to deliver nutrients but also to taste great. Sherunkova says:

“Our customers love the raw chia seeds we’ve put in to enhance the texture. They create a feeling of eating solid food, a hard to abandon habit. We received many hand written ‘thank you for a great product’ letters from people since our launch.”

How the Business Got Started

To help with her own nutritional needs.

After Sherunkova moved to New York City and changed careers, she found herself underweight and with low blood pressure and other negative effects. She consulted with nutritionists and tried out some holistic healing herbs she remembered from her youth. Then, she teamed up with Italian nutritionist Davide Garboldi and they developed Yuve together.

yuve shakes

Biggest Win

Appealing to people of all ages.

At the company’s first trade show, Sherunkova realized how great the product could really be. She says:

“We had a brand new product that was only being tasted by a small focus group, so our goal was to showcase it to a large audience. We were positively surprised to see that even children (which usually have a very sugar-centered diet and dislike everything that is healthy) loved Yuve. This gave us an incredible confidence boost and motivated us to work even harder than we used to.”

Biggest Risk

Turning down an early investor.

Sherunkova explains:

“We were on a very tiny budget, when we were offered to be financed in return for appointing a CEO he had in mind. We disagreed with his strategies and rejected the offer. A few days later we got financial support from others and a few months later we realized that the strategies proposed by the new CEO would have ruined the company.”

Lesson Learned

Focus on time management.

Sherunkova says:

“Focusing on details and trying to do things perfectly left us with fewer accomplishments than expected. Only with experience we realized the benefits of taking control of our time and its positive results.”

yuve shakes

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Expand the company’s product line.

Sherunkova says:

“I would develop a second flavor or design a more convenient packaging. We are currently working on it; however, extra budget would speed up the process.”

Team Tradition

Going to “Banya.”

Sherunkova explains:

“I introduced a Russian tradition of going to “Banya” (hot sauna or bathhouse) to my team. Not only does it incredibly benefit health but it also serves as a great hang out spot. One of the best activities of banya is hitting the body with venik, dried branches and leaves from oak or eucalyptus. They are moistened with very hot water before use. So, it usually makes people very expressive (including bad words)! It is extremely funny to look at the team members yelling and laughing at the same time for about 10 minutes. After “venik” they jump into an iced-cold pool for a second and cool off. This whole procedure stimulates circulation, mood and creativity. The best ideas came to our mind in “banya.””

Favorite Quote

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different”- Coco Chanel

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Image: Yuve

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.