The Rise of Wellness Centers with The Springs’ Jared Stein and Kimberly Helms

September 11, 2015

John Shegerian: Welcome back to Green Is Good and we’re so excited and honored to have with us today Jared Stein and Kimberly Helms. They’re the owners and the founders of The Springs, and you can find them at www.TheSpringsLA.com. Welcome to Green Is Good, Jared and Kimberly. Jared Stein: Thanks. Thanks for having us. Kimberly Helms: Thank you so much. John Shegerian: Hey listen, I know I’ve got two native New Yorkers on with me on the show today, and being a New Yorker, it’s always wonderful to have New Yorkers on with me. But I know you now have moved to Los Angeles to open up The Springs. Can you share with our listeners, Jared and Kimberly, the journey moving from New York and your journey opening up The Springs? How you came up with this, how you guys came together and how did you even get to L.A. with this wonderful new brand that you’ve opened, The Springs? Jared Stein: Yeah, for sure. So Kimberly and I, while living in New York, we were both working in the Broadway industry. Kimberly was working as the company manager, general manager, very much on the back-end producing side of Broadway shows, and I started working as a musical director and conductor. So we met on a show called “Spring Awakening” and took that show out on the road in the first national tour for about a year-and-a-half. That’s how we met, and we started dating on that show and then both finished that tour on the road and moved back to New York to work on the Broadway production of “American Idiot,” which is the Green Day musical. And after the Broadway run of that, we also took that show on the road, so it was during that tour that we were on the road for about seven months and traveled through Los Angeles and sat downtown with the show – with [inaudible] Theatre – for about six weeks. And we had been through L.A. with numerous shows before – both together and separately – and kind of got a glimpse of what was happening downtown and decided to stay downtown during that run. Kimberly Helms: It was kind of like the new L.A. at that point, because downtown was definitely undergoing – what it’s currently undergoing too right now – which is a renaissance. In the years that we’ve been coming to L.A., downtown was kind of a shell of itself that you didn’t really hang out in, and we were really, really thrilled to see that it was kind of gaining some momentum and some interesting things were happening in the downtown core, so yes, we ended up staying downtown and staying local. Jared Stein: Yeah. So we got to experience what was happening down here and one day between two shows on a weekend we took a little drive down, and I had heard about the Arts District and thought that sounded cool, so we took a drive east from downtown and went to check it out, and it was literally you know what people say as this “aha moment.” Kimberly Helms: For Jared. Jared Stein: That’s what Kimberly calls it for me. I had had this idea, and it was really – it had brewed while living in New York. My lifestyle had become so much about being vegan, venturing into the raw food world, which then means detoxing and juicing and finding an infrared sauna and getting colonics and doing yoga and all of those things, and I had always thought, “Why don’t these things exist in one place?” People who are into one thing are generally into the other elements that go along with that and you’ve got to kind of bounce all over the city whether in New York or L.A. or wherever else. John Shegerian: It’s true. Jared Stein: You have to find a juice bar and then find a yoga studio and then where am I having lunch? How do I be social while trying to be healthy? How do you build community around those healthy ideals? So the idea had sort of been in my head and I thought, “One day I’ll be able to make this happen,” but it was really driving through L.A. and seeing the Arts District specifically that inspired me and I thought, “This is happening, and it’s happening right here,” and I told Kimberly that and she said, “What are you talking about?” Kimberly Helms: He went and he stopped the car and was like, “This is it.” I was like, “This is what? I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He said, “This has been my dream, and this is where it’s happening,” and it was one of the strangest, easiest decisions of our lives. We were like “OK. Great. Let’s make it happen,” and that very day we actually started working on the business model. John Shegerian: Unbelievable. Jared Stein: Then we went back to the theatre and just started chipping away at it. We had about a month-and-a-half to two months left of the tour and within a week or two we had decided “Great, we’re going to finish the tour, we’re going to go back to New York” – we both had a couple of commitments we had to see through – kind of wrap up things there, pack up. We finished that tour in June and by October 1, we had moved out to L.A. officially. And we moved straight to the Arts District, about two blocks away from where The Springs ended up being. We didn’t know where it would be at the time, but we knew that we wanted to focus the search for the real estate very specifically in the Arts District, so we decided to live here in the neighborhood just to get a sense of what was going on and embed ourselves in the community. About a year after moving here, we signed the lease on the building and then a year after having the building is when we opened – in October of just last year. John Shegerian: Wow. Jared Stein: So that’s the back story of how it came to be, and here we are; we’re almost about to hit our eight-month mark of being open. John Shegerian: OK. That’s a great story and let’s go back though. Were you both vegans or both health and wellness and mindfully oriented while you were working on Broadway together and then this came together or did one convert the other? Or talk a little bit about that. Jared Stein: Yeah. So I had turned vegetarian when I was 12 or 13, which was pretty strange in my family – I grew up in a Jewish deli in Cleveland – so I was sort of the oddball for a bit and my parents thought that wouldn’t last and it was as a result of going away to summer camp and I came home and said I was vegetarian. That lasted for about 12, 13 years and then I turned vegan at the age of 25. John Shegerian: Wow. Jared Stein: When Kimberly and I met, I was already vegan for a few years and she was not. Kimberly Helms: I was not. I kind of dabbled in the vegetarian world on and off throughout college. Mostly off. I kind of would fluctuate back and forth between knowing that that was something I wanted to explore and then just kind of not having the discipline at the time. And then having met Jared and his passion and knowledge of the kind of vegan world that he was living in and everything that was associated with, it really got me inspired. I also suffered from food poisoning very shortly after we started seeing each other, so there was this kind of easy natural transition into that world. So I kind of went from full-fledged omnivorism into very strict veganism, and it was a super easy transition. I think a lot of that has to do with, of course, our relationship. That was about six years ago, I guess, at this point, since we’ve both been communally living a vegan holistic healthful life. And being travelers with the theatre world like we were we were able to really experience a lot that’s out there. The vegan movement and the holistic movement is really catching steam and moving at a rate that’s really thrilling, so being able to travel the countries of the world and experience a lot of things that are out there really kind of indicated the lifestyle that we were leading prior to moving out here to L.A. John Shegerian: Got you. And for our listeners out there who have just joined us, we are so excited to have Kimberly Helms and Jared Stein. They are the owners of The Springs, and to learn more about what they’re doing at The Springs, go to www.TheSpringsLA.com. So talk a little bit about The Springs. You opened it up about eight months ago, what are you offering there, and I mean, I’m online right now – I’m on your website; I’ve got to just tell you – and it’s like I just want to literally say, “OK it’s been a great show” and I want to get in my car and come on downtown right now. I mean, this is like, oh my gosh, where have you been? So I’m so excited that you’re here. Share with our listeners a little bit about why you’re different. It’s just not a regular restaurant. What kind of food do you have, what kind of juice? The yoga, the wellness, share the compendium of services and yummy treats that you guys are serving up at The Springs. Jared Stein: Yeah, for sure. I mean the whole idea – and I think you briefly hit it on the head there – is just that it is this full spectrum experience that people can walk in and have this – I mean, people literally can hang out there for eight to 10 hours or all day lon,g and many people ask us, “Where’s the bed?” They want to stay overnight. Kimberly Helms: Our biggest criticism is we don’t have a hotel attached. Jared Stein: But there are various elements. We have a juice bar, which is 100-percent organic cold-pressed juices that we’re bottling here on site. Then we do smoothies, and it’s kind of like our take-out section so people who are running into yoga or out of yoga or after their massage can kind of grab something quick or take something out and head back to work during the week. Then the restaurant is also 100-percent organic, and that was sort of a thing that we decided early on was one of our standards – that everything that we brought in would have to be organic. We know a lot of restaurants say they’re organic, but I think in California there is some law, like you have to be 75-percent organic or something around that to say that, and we felt, like, if you’re going to say “organic,” you have to kind of go all the way and what is to stop you one week from saying, “Well, conventional apples this week are a little bit cheaper, so let’s put those in the juice,” and we said, “No, if it’s not organic we’re just not going to make it that day” or “that week” and maybe we’re going to use a different ingredient or maybe we’ll substitute something else. But that was really important to us so we were just very transparent about that and people knew what they were putting in their bodies. So the restaurant falls under those guidelines. It’s also completely raw and vegan so no animal products used. The build-out of the kitchen was fun because we didn’t have to put in any ovens or gas lines or grease traps or things like that, so it’s just blenders and juicers and dehydrators. Kimberly Helms: And it’s a brilliant form of cuisine. Taking out the vegan nature of it, the preparation of what our chef is doing in the kitchen is really thrilling. It’s like a culinary adventure for any type of foodie that’s out there. What we really pride ourselves on is where Jared and I clearly are both vegan and do believe that not only ourselves as well as the world would be a better place if there were more vegans, but we really want to cater to people who just enjoy really interesting well-prepared food, and that’s the level of food that’s going on there at The Springs. John Shegerian: How many seats in the restaurant do you have, Kimberly? Kimberly, how many seats do you have? Kimberly Helms: We have 90. John Shegerian: Ninety. So it’s a big restaurant. It’s a pretty big restaurant. Kimberly Helms: Yeah. I mean, we’ve got the space. We’re in a warehouse so it was nice to be able to really carve out some space for people who can sit and eat and stay a while. We don’t have to kick you out of your seat if you’re taking up some time and searching the web on your computer while you’re having your monstrous salad. John Shegerian: So Kimberly, I’ve been going through your menu. Yesterday, I went through your menu, and today I went through your menu. I go through your menu and everything I look at it’s like, “I’m trying that. I’m trying that. Oh, hummus and falafel? I’m trying that. Cheese plate made out of nut cheeses, trying that. Oh, the seaweed Caesar salad? Trying that.” So where did you have this amazing vision for this yummy food? Vegan yummy raw food. How did you find a chef that could meet your visions? Kimberly Helms: Right? Well, I think similar to the Broadway world that we came from, we used the skill set that we knew and we cast the appropriate people in the appropriate departments. John Shegerian: There you go. Kimberly Helms: I mean, Jared and I both knew that we wouldn’t be preparing the food. John Shegerian: Genius. Kimberly Helms: We wouldn’t be teaching the yoga. I wasn’t giving massages out. We wanted people to come back. If I was doing that, I doubt we’d have a client base. But it was really just [inaudible] and the search and the networking and the community and the people we’ve met over the course of our lives, just kind of gathering all of those names and personalities and allowing also it just to kind of organically come together. Chef Michael Falso came to us in a very interesting way. We hired a consulting shop, who we are so thrilled about, and he is wonderful – he is still involved with The Springs – but he himself brought Chef Falso along with him one day shortly after we hired him and he said, “You need to know Michael. Michael is going to be involved on some level. I’m bringing him. Just meet him. We’ll figure it out.” And it became very clear to us very early on that Michael was going to be our Executive Chef. He just brought a plethora of experience both in the vegan and non-vegan culinary world. He is French classically trained. He has been a chef at Pure Food and Wine in New York City. John Shegerian: Sure. Kimberly Helms: So he had that raw/vegan background as well. And we, on some kind of artistic level, just kind of let him go. We gave him guidelines of what we thought we would really like to see as customers on a menu in a restaurant like The Springs if we walked into it but we really let him take liberties on where he was going with the menu and were consistently and pleasantly surprised with what he was bringing to the table. Really thrilling stuff. And he’s so young. He’s so young to be doing what he is doing. John Shegerian: Kimberly, I have about two hours worth of questions and we’ve got five minutes left so I want to try to get in. so unfortunately I’m going to hit you with a bunch of questions because I really want our listeners to hear all the amazing things but we’re going to have you back on because I still have two hours of questions that I need our listeners to hear you guys answer. So we’ve got to do more. That’s right. So I’m on the website. You’ve got this yummy food with this amazing chef and it’s raw/vegan. You have this cold-pressed juice. You’re open for lunch and dinner? Jared Stein: Yeah the juice bar is opened in the morning for breakfast – juices and smoothies and all that – and then lunch at 11:00 and dinner at 5:30. John Shegerian: Got you. And then you have wellness and yoga. Now yoga is pretty much understandable for all of us. So you have an area at the restaurant, you have its own area – part of the warehouse – that is a yoga center? Jared Stein: Correct. In the back separated from the restaurant is the yoga studio. It’s about a 1,200-square-foot yoga studio, seven to eight classes a day, with a pretty wide variety of offerings, everything from flow and gentle and restorative to power flow, kundalini, special yoga workshops, amazing teachers and free meditation Monday through Friday at 1:00 PM. John Shegerian: And then you have wellness. And wellness sounds fascinating. I want you to share, Jared or Kimberly, share what wellness means at your place and what else you’re doing beyond juice, food and yoga, you’re doing wellness. I want our listeners to hear in your own words what that means. Jared Stein: Yeah, so wellness for us was sort of the icing on the cake, and the last element that would really sort of round out this experience and make it a full spectrum one. People who are going to get into veganism or detoxing or juicing there is that element of “OK. If I’m going to do a juice cleanse, there are other things that have to go along with it,” and that’s sort of where a bit of the education comes in it. If your body is going through detox, you need some hands on modalities or other systems that can help you. So that’s one of the things that we wanted to incorporate. So the types of things we offer up there, various types of massage, we have acupuncture, we do gravity colon hydrotherapy, which is an amazing system and really helps the body detox and also an infrared sauna, which again helps the body sweat out toxins and all that. So it’s awesome to have this part of the full experience, and for people to be able to take advantage of that and we’re really providing a space where people can come in who are – maybe some people are just coming for dinner and an amazing glass of organic wine but other people are really coming to kind of go through a transformative experience where they can change their body, change their routine and then ultimately change their health in a pretty drastic way. John Shegerian: So we’re down to the last two minutes. Kimberly, how has this amazing yoga, wellness, juice and food place called “The Springs L.A.,” how has it been received in the eight months you’ve been open? Kimberly Helms: It’s been amazing. I mean, I’m almost at a loss for words, as you can tell, as I’m stuttering. We really, really wanted to created such a sense of community, because the Arts District really inspired us and we’re so thrilled to see how expansive that reach of community has been. As a matter of fact just yesterday we had some regulars who drive up from the O.C. on a weekly sometimes daily basis just to come and get a couple of our almond milks and some food and hang out and feel like a part of the community that is being created here. It’s kind of mind blowing to think that this idea that Jared stopped the car with and said, “Let’s do it” has kind of really already started to transform some people’s lives and has allowed us to meet some really fascinating people in the world of both vegan, non-vegan, holistic, just all over health and wellness. We’ve been recognized in New York already, and so that kind of reach was definitely not on our radar here early on when we opened up The Springs, so we are over the moon. We are really thrilled to see not only The Springs doing well, but also the whole movement in and of itself it becoming much more popular and much more understood, and that’s all you can really ask for when you’re kind of heading something that’s on the break of something that’s new and really important that’s going on. John Shegerian: Well, Kimberly and Jared, we’re going to have you back on, but like I said, I’ve got hours of questions to ask you, but thank you both for coming on today and sharing the story of The Springs with our listeners today. You’re both making the world a better place and truly living proof that Green Is Good.