Queens Juice Bar Owner’s Recipe for Success Blends Passion for Nutrition, Mentorship
By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Making the leap to start your dream business can be daunting, especially in uncertain economic times.
While a record number of new businesses have been formed during the pandemic, succeeding in a new venture presents a myriad of challenges, and for that reason, roughly 20 percent of small businesses fail within the first year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Dawn Kelly was let go from Prudential Financial in 2015 after 16 years leading its global communications team. Before that, she spent about nine years with AARP and roughly five years as director of public relations for York College. She combined her severance pay from Prudential and her savings to fund The Nourish Spot – a juice bar she opened in Jamaica, Queens with her daughter.
“When we started The Nourish Spot, I spent over 30 years as a public relations practitioner for a number of different brands and organizations, so I lean on that for the business,” she told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.
Now a mentor at the NYC Department of Small Business Services, Kelly says anyone looking to start a business does not necessarily need an infusion of capital. She advises small business owners to never feel shy about promoting themselves because it is essential for marketing any business.
“I was taking clients before The Nourish Spot opened to help them promote themselves,” Kelly said.
“This wasn’t really a dream for me. I’m an employee,” she explained on the Small Business Spotlight as her workers made smoothies behind the counter in the background.
But, her passion for nutrition and mentorship is palpable.
“I actually thought that I would work until I didn’t anymore. But, God had another idea for me. He gave me this idea to do the juice bar and I’m really proud that it’s actually working,” said Kelly, flashing a smile from ear-to-ear.
She was accepted into a program through the Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation and took online classes during the pandemic to guide her through managing the business and launching new services.
While most people walk in to The Nourish Spot to order a smoothie off the menu, Kelly realized there was a market for people with medical conditions. One of her customers is a home health aide in Queens who walks in with a prescription from her client’s doctor.
“Her client doesn’t eat as much fruits and vegetables as they’re supposed to. And so, the way she makes sure that her client consumes the balanced diet, is she comes and makes a smoothie for them and then takes it to them,” she said.
She also worked with non-profit organizations during the pandemic to help combat food insecurity in her neighborhood, which was once the epicenter of the coronavirus in the spring of 2020.
Kelly lives by the principle of treating people the right way. She empowers her workers to pass on joy with a smile and grace. Many of them, Kelly sourced from local non-profits when she opened The Nourish Spot.
“These young people came into us as interns. And, those that showcased themselves as dependable, honest, passionate about food and people, we’ve hired them,” she told Connolly and Carousso.
She said she tapped into a “community pipeline” of talented, hard-working people who just need an opportunity to prove themselves and flourish. Some of her employees have worked at the juice bar for nearly four years.
“We’re really really proud,” said Kelly.
See her story and pickup ideas for new services on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.