Born in Taipei and educated in LA, Jen Hau first met Polly Zhang in Shanghai seven years ago through mutual friends. As a result of their shared interest in healthy living, the two became roommates and eventually business partners when they founded JOVA HEALTH in 2013. In addition to their TCM-inspired drinks and all-natural scented candles, Hau and Zhang are now rolling out JOVA SENSES, a line of wellness workshops to bring the brand’s core philosophies to life.
How do you think your upbringing has influenced JOVA’s concept?
Both Taipei and Los Angeles have a huge trend of wellness and healthy living, though a lot of them feature Western-oriented methodologies. With our Chinese heritage and upbringing, Polly and I were inspired to use TCM-inspired concepts to approach wellness and healthy living, which is really the foundation of JOVA HEALTH: ‘Eastern wellness reinterpreted.’
How do you and your partner Polly divide up the responsibilities?
I do mostly operations, marketing, branding and sales, and Polly is in charge of production and logistics. While this is our general division of responsibilities, we hang out a lot together so we also do most things together. A best friend and business partner is a very good sounding board!
Jen Hau (right) with business partner Polly Zhang (left). Courtesy of JOVA HEALTH.
Thinking back, what were some of the most memorable challenges that you had to overcome when you first started your brand?
Finding the balance between friendship and business. Polly and I were roommates and best friends since we moved here in 2011. Upon starting JOVA HEALTH, there was a while when we spent too much time working instead of hanging out as just friends, and at times the other way around. Now, we’ve reached a more balanced allocation of time, and know how to separate the two a little bit better (though our Monday lunch meetings still occasionally turn into a hangout session).
You recently rolled out a new events program. Can you tell us more about it?
JOVA SENSES is an overall wellness experience incorporating yoga programs and wellness workshops. The goal is to encourage face-to-face time with our clients to help them better understand the concept of Eastern wellness through an offline experience. I started practicing yoga back in 2008 but didn’t start teaching until I moved to Shanghai. My previous job was really taxing, so a good sweat and balanced diet is always helpful for boosting work performance.
“A strong mind is just as important as a strong body”
Besides eating well and exercising, do you have any other tips for staying healthy?
Read, write, bake and listen to Top 40 hits! A strong mind is just as important as a strong body, so I think giving oneself some mind space is a must.
For anyone who’s never tried any TCM-inspired drinks, which of JOVA’s drinks would you recommend to them?
I would start with ‘Purify’ (snow pear juice with osmanthus and tremella) and ‘Nourish’ (mixed nut milk with honey and vanilla). They’re lighter in taste but equally nutritious. For those like me who are lactose intolerant, you can even use Nourish as a dairy substitute in your coffee.
Any exciting plans over the next few months for JOVA?
New beverages coming out soon and more offline yoga programs to be held!