Smoothies with a 'purpose' come to Steveston

Braeden Ralla opens shop inspired by mother's purpose-driven life and battle against cancer

Steveston’s newest merchant Braeden Ralla, 27, says he is hoping he’ll drive people toward their purpose in life – one smoothie at a time.

In June, the young, independent entrepreneur opened Purpose Smoothie Co. on Bayview Street, next to Blenz Coffee.

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Ralla, a lifelong Richmondite, said he was inspired by the way his mother Devi Ralla lived her life. Last December, he lost her to cancer but has since turned his energy to his new, health-focused venture.

“The inspiration behind Purpose is the way my mother lived a purpose-driven life. She was the most inspirational person I ever met and really just happy and positive all the time. So the name came from how she lived life. One of my goals is to educate people on the importance of eating healthy and the difference it can make on us, both mentally and physically,” said Ralla.

Indeed, mom Devi was a high school teacher and a positive force for change in the community. Up to the end of her battle, she was helping raise money for cancer research.

“It was the worse day of my life at the time,” said Ralla of the moment he found out his mom had cancer.

“It was devastating; we are a really close family. I’ve been blessed to have a close family.

“When something like that happens it really puts into perspective how the world stresses and gets mad at so many little things and holds grudges. The little things that matter are being around family and being with the friends that you love,” said Ralla.

Devi Ralla, with her son, Braeden. After cancer cut her off from running marathons, Braeden stepped into her shoes and entered the 2016 Vancouver Marathon in her place - submitted

An egg allergy since childhood had always meant Ralla had to get “creative” when it came to breakfast, so smoothies are familiar to him.

“I started really looking into natural healing powers and what real food could actually do for your body. So I started to realize our bodies are made for real food and not just medicines from doctors,” said Ralla.

So far the menu is short, simple and priced competitively. There are no added sugars or artificial preservatives, as is the case with smoothies found at franchise shops.

“I think smoothies are an important way for someone to get so many nutrients in just one drink,” said Ralla.

He uses unsweetened, organic almond milk and brown rice protein powder in many of his creations.

The frozen fruit gives Ralla’s smoothies the icy viscosity – no ice necessary.

He’s slowly adding healthy, all-natural fruit and salad bowls to the menu, and for winter, he’s experimenting with grandma’s homemade East Indian recipes for hot soups.

Ralla was helped by his homebuilding father Jerry, who took it upon himself to renovate the space.

“I wanted to create a positive atmosphere where anyone of any age can come in here and, however unique anyone is, they come here and get positive advice and feedback from us to find their purpose. A lot of people ask why my mom was so happy and I think she just did things she liked to do. When you do that you’re going to be smiling and you’ll chase things with your heart.”

Ralla had a few nervous butterflies, however. He wanted to open the shop last year, but got cold feet, so he kept teaching basketball.

His mom’s death reminded him of what he needed to do.

“The way she taught me she wouldn’t want me sitting around crying. Yes, I have those days, but I try my best to continue her legacy by living the life she taught me to. And that’s by staying positive and moving forward.”

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