The woman behind Luna Juice Bar embodies her unique name – Summer Shine – but that wasn’t always the case.
A few years ago, Shine was homeless in New Orleans with a husband about to leave her, a son who wouldn’t take her calls, and a mother who was planning her funeral.
The path to become her shining self again, and a successful business owner, has been years in the making and included a painful, dark relapse.
But today, Shine’s juice bar employs fifteen people and grosses over $30,000 per month serving delicious juices and smoothies at locations in and around Waco, Texas.
Giving Juice a Chance
Shine got back on her feet with the help of Perpetual Help Home, a Victoria, Texas-based social enterprise and Local Community Institution in Partners Worldwide’s network that helps women rebuild their lives.
After nine months of sobriety, Shine and her husband, Ronnie, reconciled and began to pursue their longtime dream of starting a juicing business.
They approached the Center for Peace’s Freedom Capital Venture Fund, which operates out of Perpetual Help Home, for a micro-loan. The Fund, guided by volunteer businesspeople who vet business plans and provide mentoring, granted Shine a microloan to launch Luna Juice Bar.
“We’re the most risky population of people you could hand a check to,” Shine told the Waco Tribune in June. “The crazy thing is, I took that $5,000 and I spent it on exactly what I said I’d spend it on. I didn’t buy crack or go back to New Orleans.”
Shine paid off the micro-loan ahead of time, then pitched to Perpetual Help Home – and a few other potential investors – for an equity investment to expand Luna Juice Bar.
The pitch was successful: Luna Juice Bar secured a $40,000 investment with each of four investors – one of which is Perpetual Help Home – owning 5% of the company.
A New Start Through Business
People one step away from incarceration don’t appear to be the most likely group of entrepreneurs. But Center for Peace sees every person as created in God’s image and talented in unique ways, recognizing that some women are entrepreneurs at heart.
For the women who dream of rebuilding their lives by starting their own business, the Center for Peace provides small business training and support from business mentors, followed by an opportunity to pitch to the Freedom Venture Capital Fund. The business trainings cover a wide variety of topics and have been hosted across Texas as well as around the country.
Cheryl Miller, executive director of Perpetual Help Home, says the impact of the Center for Peace is far-reaching. “The many functions of the Center are designed to enrich and impact our community as well as the lives of the women,” Miller says.
A Path to Recovery
Shine is an example of a transformed woman impacted by Center for Peace who is now positively impacting her own community in response.
Shine says Luna Juice Bar played a “huge role” in her recovery.
The first six to nine months are the hardest and most vital to recovery, she says, and resurrecting a business idea she has had since 1998 gave her purpose, with her faith in Christ strengthening every step of her journey.
Blessed by her own recovery, the health of her family, and the growth of Luna Juice Bar, Shine desires to help others in the way she was helped – and she’s doing just that.
Shine and her husband have partnered with a local ministry and other community members to open a new women’s sober home in Waco where Shine can mentor women on their own paths to recovery.
The success of Luna Juice Bar and the impact it has had on Shine’s life highlights the opportunity business people and ministries have to spur holistic human and community development through business.
There are many driven entrepreneurs like Shine who have a gift in business and a heart for helping others. When organizations and volunteer businesspeople walk alongside the Summer Shines of the world, we can foster individual and community transformation, empowering entrepreneurs to live into their unique gifts and the dreams God has given them.
Photos courtesy of Luna Juice Bar.