By George Kevin Jordan, Special to the AFRO
Note to everyone. Not every business venture with family ends up on Iyanla’s “Fix My Life” on OWN. In fact Lauren Williamson, Chanel Grant, and their mother Toya Evans, owners of Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Bowie, have harnessed their strengths and are now celebrating their second anniversary as franchise owners.
“We’re very excited,” Williamson said in a phone interview with her partners. “It was a fun journey getting here.”
Their celebration will be 2-5 p.m., Oct. 6, at the store, located at the Bowie Marketplace, 15475 Annapolis Rd, Suite 150, and there will be prizes, giveaways and a chance to win free smoothies for a year.
Ms. Grant credits her parents for inspiring her and her sister to try a business of their own. “Growing up my parents always had businesses as long as I can remember,” Grant says. “We were at that place, we were all working 9 to 5 jobs and wanted to do something different.”
Evans, Grant and Williams started brainstorming what issues were important to them and healthy foods and lifestyle was right at the top. Food-based businesses has been well received in the Bowie area, said Evans, who is a resident along with Grant. (Williamson resides in Richmond).
But after they knew what kind of business they wanted to start, there were still so many decisions, especially whether to start something from the ground up or go with the franchise model.
“We looked at both options,” Williamson said. “We all kind of sat down and discussed the pros and cons and the things you could bring to the market, and we started to look at the Tropical Smoothie brand. It’s been tried out and you’ve got a team of support.
Evans also pointed out other benefits of the franchise model adding, “Because we all have jobs the franchise model worked so that we didn’t have to spend a lot of time guessing. Its makes for an opportunity where we’re not all in the store.”
The trio attribute their success to their ability to prioritize their individual strengths, and turn off work.
“I think it depends on the family,” Williamson said. “We have always been extremely close. [But] you have to be able to separate work from your personal life. I have seen other situations where that’s all you talk about is work. You have to say, ‘we took care of business and now you’re my sister.’”
During the conversation, all three entrepreneurs were quick to point out that creating and sustaining a business was not an easy ride. When a Small Business Administration loan fell through, the family scrambled for finances eventually finding resources with the CIty of Bowie and Prince George’s County. But Evans knew the mission of bringing health options to her neighborhood was important, saying, “we wanted to bring something like this to P.G. County.
Looking back, Grant has some choice words for anyone wanting to plunge into business for themselves: “Get creative. Everything is not going to line up. But there are so many resources to dream bigger.”