LORAIN, Ohio — Starting a business isn’t easy, but toss in a couple of other factors - like trying to navigate a global pandemic and being a Black woman - and it only seems to get harder.
But one Lorain woman is pushing through all of those challenges to say “we’re open” and to hopefully make her exception to the rule for other Black women.
Georgia Curry can’t go a day without juicing.
“I have a sister that's a health fanatic out in Oregon, and there was a point in time, I had a couple health issues and I spoke to her about it. She wanted me to try juicing,” Curry said. “After the first couple drinks, it became something I had to do.”
Last May, worries about the pandemic affecting her corporate job as a licensed project manager inspired her to turn her hobby into a business. It's called JuiceMe Juice Bar.
“Even though I had another business, we still needed a fallback for me and my family in the case of something happening,” Curry said.
But even though she already had entrepreneurial experience as co-owner of Steel City Bar, the business she started with her husband, she had no luck with real estate brokers.
“The real estate broker, he went silent when I came with my business plan. He was requesting a letter of intent, a business plan. So I came with the business plan and said, hey, you know, I'll send you an NDA to sign. He never signed the NDA. Both myself and my real estate agent who happens to be African American as well went silent on both of us. No response at all,” Curry said.
She also didn’t succeed in getting a loan from several banks for the juice bar.
“You go in there with a great business plan, your financials in line but if you don't have exactly what they're looking for, you know, the plan goes out the window,” Curry said.
Securing funding has always been a hurdle for black business owners, especially black women.
The Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy found that women and minority business owners are more likely to be denied loans than white business owners.
“With the help of my brother and the support of my husband, we found this location and we used my life savings and anything from the organic growth of our other business to get this started,” Curry said. “Unfortunately we're an exception, and not the norm and we need to get to that point.”
Curry’s sister helped her come up with the super healthy recipes for her menu from the Caribbean kale smoothie, to the original smoothie, but a smoothie named Aunt Chloe’s favorite is especially close to her heart.
“Aunt Chloe to me is Toni Morrison to you, she happens to be my aunt. And in celebration of Black History Month and Toni Morrison day we're featuring her favorite smoothie,” Curry said.
Every recipe, including Aunt Chloe’s, is made with fresh fruits and veggies.
Curry said business has been slow, but steady since they opened in January.
“I know it's gonna pick up, and I am confident when new customers come in, they're excited to see the walls, the smiles on my employees, the team members' faces,” Curry said.
Even though it's been a rocky road, when Curry looks around at her space and at the menu on the wall with her aunt’s name on it, she said it's all worth it.
“There's a lot of stuff that goes into being a successful black owner, black businesswoman, but I think I'm on the right path,” Curry said. “She always told me when she would observe me working: you're freeing yourself, you're in the process of freeing yourself so I think she'd be okay with it.
JuiceMe Juice Bar is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. It's open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays.
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