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Meet the Fearless CEO Who Took Over a Multi-Million Dollar Kefir Company in Her 20s - Food Crushes

Posted On: Oct 16, 2018   |   Posted By: The Kitchn

Julie Smolyansky knows what it takes to start a food business from scratch. It's basically in her DNA. She's the CEO of Lifeway Foods , a multi-million-dollar company that her parents started in the 1980s to introduce kefir - a probiotic, cultured dairy beverage - to the States. But the road to get here has been anything but smooth.
Julie and her family fled the former Soviet Union in the 1970s as refugees and settled in Chicago. To support their family, Julie's mom, Ludmilla, hustled to open a Russian deli in their neighborhood, catering to the palates of the new flood of immigrants. While Julie's mom taught herself English by watching soap operas and simultaneously tackled the responsibilities of entrepreneurship, importing and distributing eastern European food to other delis all across the country, Julie picked up more than a few lessons of her own.
The Smolyanskys later expanded their food business scope by starting Lifeway to put drinkable cultured yogurt, a staple in their home country, on Americans'...

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