If you don’t know who JJ Smith is, you better ask somebody—perhaps one of the more than 1.2 million folks who keep up with her on social media. Or the hundreds of thousands of people who purchase her weight loss books, which have created a cottage industry for the 47-year old Fredericksburg, Va., native. As the author of two self-published titles and the New York Times best sellers “10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse” and its recently released follow-up “Green Smoothies for Life,” Smith has become a foremost expert on weight loss and nutrition. Not too shabby for an Internet technology executive who literally got a new lease on life after encountering her own health crisis.
“I was trying to get my life back,” Smith reveals to EBONY.com about the inspiration behind the creation of her health-centered empire. “A few years ago, after years of clean, healthy eating and detoxing, I was bedridden with mercury poisoning from my silver dental fillings. I had high levels of mercury in my brain, gut, liver, and kidneys. I couldn’t get out of bed for months. My health, energy, and motivation were at an all-time low.”
“After learning how raw greens can heal the body, I created the “10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse,” she continues. Codified into a book, Smith attributes the total loss of two million pounds among its users to the popular diet plan. “The book’s techniques were so successful and the word of mouth about the diet was so organic, that it stayed on The New York Times’ Best Sellers list for more than fifty-two consecutive weeks,” she says.
Smith served as vice president and partner at Intact Technology, Inc. in Greenbelt, Maryland. She became the youngest African-American to receive a vice president position at a Fortune 500 company. Currently on a “sabbatical” from the company, her 13 years of experience there have transferred well into her current profession.
“My career as an IT executive was hectic and required similar oral and written communication skills that I use in my business today,” she says, while adding in some advice for others: “Always look to acquire the transferable skills in every position that you can take from job to job.”
Social media has played a huge part in the runaway success of Smith’s Green Smoothie business—so much so, she had to pivot energies to accommodate the demand.
“The growth of the Facebook groups and fan page has been extraordinary,” she says. “The biggest challenge is supporting 1.2 million fans and 400,000 folks actively doing the 10-day green smoothie cleanse everyday. We get over 1,000 questions a day and it takes a lot of effort to maintain the level of support I feel that people need to be successful on their weight loss journey. So, I’ve added several ambassadors to help me out throughout the day and night.”
Smith revealed that 12 publishing companies approached her about buying the rights to her book, which was initially self-published. “[Hitting] the New York Times Bests Sellers list as a self-published author is extremely rare. In self-publishing, you write, publish and market the book, and you are responsible for distribution which has limited options for a self-published author.”
Publishing giant Simon & Schuster had the winning formula for the homegrown, savvy scribe who considers them the “best publishing partner.” Smith is looking to expand her business in many ways but ruled out the trendy “meal plan” platforms which have become in vogue. However, she did hint that a television project could be in the very near future.
“It’s really cool,” she says about the fast-rising success.“But I get much more excited about the thousands of success stories that I’ve seen. We’ve had people literally transform their life and health through green smoothies, losing 100+ pounds, getting off their meds and improving their relationship with food. To see people get empowered and take back control of their health and weight has been just amazing. God has done some amazing things through this movement.”
Karu F. Daniels has contributed to The New York Times, CNN, The Daily Beast, The New York Daily News and ABC News.