Friday, May 24, 2024
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For the Love of Hip Hop and Smoothies

Hi SwagHer Fam!  This is Janet Downs. Today, I’m chatting with Shamika Brooks, wife and co-owner with her husband, Roberto, of Hip Hop Smoothies in Charlotte, NC.  Shamika is a Charlottean and she says her husband, Roberto, has been here long enough to be considered a Charlottean. Upon walking into their establishment, the first thing I see is a picture of Tupac on the wall and then I began to sway to the beat that was playing from the speakers.  Yeah, it’s a vibe!   

Janet:  Let’s jump right in.  How long have y’all been in business and what made you decide that smoothies were the product to sell?   

Shamika:  We’ve been in business since 2018.  We started with a mobile service, where we set up at different locations. You know, the YMCA, sporting events, corporate events, teacher appreciations at school. We wanted to bring something healthier to the community.  A lot of times, you go to different places and there’s a lot of sugar-filled items.  

Roberto was a fanatic about smoothies. He loves smoothies. He would perfect the smoothies at the house with our kids, and we decided one day that we were going to open a smoothie shop. Once we earned our following and gained a lot of customers, they started saying they wanted the smoothies every day.  We decided to open our first storefront at the end of 2019.  We opened it right when the pandemic hit. The grand opening was April 2020. 


Janet:  Wow!  What did that look like?  Opening your first brick-and-mortar building at the height of the pandemic?    

Shamika:  Yes, we were a little worried at first. That was when the George Floyd situation started as well. That was a very unfortunate situation, and I hate that it happened, but people were more intentional about spending their dollars with Black businesses. We had a big push from the community, and that actually helped us to stay afloat during COVID-19.  

Janet:  How did y’all come up with the name, Hip Hop Smoothies?  

Shamika:  That was Roberto’s idea.  We both love music.  He would frequent a lot of smoothie shops and what he noticed is that it was just you pick up your smoothie and go. There wasn’t anything exciting about it.  We wanted to put a twist on it.  We perfected our menu and started naming our smoothies after hip hop songs.  When you walk into Hip Hop Smoothies, it’s a different type of vibe. It’s a fun vibe.   

Janet:  Yes, I can definitely agree with that!  What would you say was the hardest thing about becoming a business owner and even more so, a Black business owner?

Shamika:  The hardest part is getting and maintaining the right employees.  Employees that will push your vision. We don’t want a “body,” we want quality employees.  You know, the owner working the front is going to be different than a normal person.  Also, Black businesses don’t really get a second chance. You mess up one time and that’s it.  

Janet:  That is true and I totally understand that.  Even during the pandemic, y’all continued to be successful & grow.  As a matter of fact, y’all opened a second location, right?  That’s amazing & congratulations! What were some marketing strategies that worked for y’all?  

Shamika:  Yes, we opened our second location in March 2022. During the height of COVID-19, we had to pivot and start offering our smoothies to apartment complexes, housing communities, and HOA’s because mostly everyone was working from home.  It took a minute for us to get used to doing it that way and get it going, but we did it.  We started a new truck in 2021 and then we opened our second location in March 2022.  

Janet:  So, how many items are on your menu, and what are your best sellers?  

Shamika:  We have 16 different smoothies that we created, and then there’s a how do you want it option, where the customer chooses.  We also just started offering two detox smoothies as well.  Our best sellers are Gin and Juice (peaches, mango, banana, OJ, tumeric and ginger powder), Get Low (strawberries, mango, pineapples, and tropical Red Bull), and Gangsta’s Paradise (almond milk, strawberries, banana, vanilla yogurt, and honey).

Janet:  Are there any future expansion plans on the horizon for Hip Hop Smoothies or do you want to start a new business venture?    

Shamika:  We’re always looking for new business ventures.  We have a few things that we’re working on, but haven’t solidified it right now. 

Janet:  What do you want your legacy to be? 

Shamika:  Well, we want to infiltrate the market.  We want to be able to grow and have our brand in different areas.  Whether it’s a mobile unit or whether it’s brick-and-mortar.  Right now, mostly everyone that works for us is family.  Our kids are helping right now, but we want them to get their education and come back and help run the business.  

Janet: Are you looking for people to buy into the business, you know, like a franchise?  

Shamika:  Right now, no.  However, it may be something we start to look into in the future.  

Janet:  How can people reach you if they want to book y’all for an event?

Shamika:  They can call us at 980-938-6702.  However, we prefer e-mail, so that we can track their request better (info@hiphopsmoothies.com).  We’re also on Facebook, IG and Twitter.  

 

Y’all, go check out their website, hiphopsmoothies.com and if you’re in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, go visit one of their two locations:  249 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Rd #210 or 5800 N. Sharon Amity Rd #H.  They have a loyalty program, where you buy 10 smoothies/coffee and get the 11th smoothie/coffee free.  Lastly, I love a good smoothie, so of course, before I left, I had to try one.  I had Diced Pineapples (almond milk, mango, pineapples, protein powder).  If you didn’t know, it’s a song by Rick Ross, ft. Wale and Drake.  It was super delicious!  

 

 

 Janet Downs| Janet Downs is an instructor with over 20 years of experience, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations. She volunteers and is a resource for the homeless community and is working towards starting her own non-profit. She’s passionate about mental health and seeks to bring more awareness to the black community. She is active in church ministry, a writer, and loves music, hiking, and travel. 

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