She’s making sure the youth have jobs!
A New York juice shop owner has been nourishing the community and its children during the pandemic.
Dawn Kelly is the owner of The Nourish Spot, a juice bar she opened after being laid off from her corporate job in 2015.
“I was home crying for a while because I had never in my life failed. I went to school early, skipped the 3rd grade, went to college when I was 16 years old, and I graduated from Howard University. I’ve worked my whole life,” Kelly told the Queens Ledger.
During that time, Kelly began focusing on her health and figuring out what her new life would look like post-corporate America. She began working to lose weight and realized there weren’t many healthy food options in her neighborhood.
“I was on my own health journey to lose weight and get back to a size 8 from a size 16 after working nearly 16 years [in the corporate world]. There were no healthy food spots in my southeast Jamaica, Queens community which is often referred to as a “food desert,” Kelly told Because Of Them We Can.
That’s when she came up with the idea for The Nourish Spot, a juice bar and cafe that offers healthy customizable food options located in Queens. The idea was a hit, and Kelly began building a loyal following of customers who would come in daily to get her fruit, salads, smoothies, and wraps. In 2019, Kelly was chosen as Microbusiness of the Year by the SBA NY District. This past March, after self-funding her business for years, she became one of eight Black-owned businesses to receive a grant from beauty brand Anastasia Beverly Hills. After the company pledged $1 million in June 2020 to support social and racial justice. Kelly was one of the lucky recipients out of a pool of 900 applicants, earning a $62,000 grant.
During the pandemic, Kelly was able to continue serving the community. She began looked after teens in the area by partnering with local non-profits and the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) to hire young people as her employees. She even was chosen to participate in the 2020 and 2021 Restaurant Relief Program, which allowed businesses to pay their employees $20 an hour. For some of the young people, even when their internships are up, Kelly brings them on full-time.
“I usually hire these young adults and pay them a fair wage,” Kelly previously told reporters.
The Queens native said she doesn’t see hiring the young people as optional. It is a token of her appreciation for the community that’s poured so much into her.
“It is important for us to provide opportunities for youth because ‘to whom much is given, much is required, and they are the future. In our community, youth are often unemployed, so we work with a variety of non-profits to serve as a culinary and hospitality internship training ground. When the internships are over, we hire the young people,” said Kelly.
Kelly currently serves as a mentor for WE NYC, the women’s entrepreneur area of NYC Small Business Services, and has been honored extensively for her work in the community. She uses The Nourish Spot and their social platforms to share job opportunities, civic reminders around voting and completing the census, and other local updates pertinent to the community. Moving into her 5th year of business and surviving a global pandemic are just a few of her highlights this year.
She hopes to expand The Nourish Spot soon, launching a line of salad dressings that she hopes to sell in the marketplace and establishing concessions in major venues and area airports, including Yankee Stadium and Barclays.
“I dream of seeing our brand around the globe just like…other food & beverage brands,” Kelly said.
To learn more about Kelly’s work, follow The Nourish Spot on Instagram.
Congratulations Dawn! Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of Dawn Kelly