Honoring Our Black Entrepreneurs: Labria Strong and Shaquasia ColemanFeb 01, 2024 10:23AM ● By Genna Contino
In 2022, more than 20 percent of South Carolina businesses were owned by people from racial minorities, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Of those businesses, more than 72,000 were owned by Black entrepreneurs.
A 2023 study conducted by Lendio, a company that specializes in loans to small businesses, used data from the Census Bureau and the U.S. Small Business Administration to rank each state’s support of minority-owned businesses.
The study ranked South Carolina 14th in the nation, citing a 147-percent job growth at minority-owned businesses.
Every entrepreneur faces challenges in getting a business off the ground and keeping it on a growth trajectory through the ups and downs of the economy and the upheaval of the Covid-19 pandemic. And many minority business owners face additional hurdles ranging from discrimination to a lack of mentorship opportunities, according to Lendio.
Meet some Black entrepreneurs around South Carolina who are navigating the challenges and putting their own stamp on the business world.
Labria Strong and Shaquasia Coleman
Juice Crush was born from the creative minds of sisters Shaquasia Coleman and Labria Strong. The genesis of the juice bar took shape within their mother Edna Strong's home. While nurturing their ailing mother through her battle with colon cancer, Coleman and Strong got their start in juicing. Witnessing their mother's struggle to eat during chemotherapy, they innovatively concocted ways to deliver the vital nutrients she desperately needed. Although Edna Strong passed away in 2018, her spirit and resilience continue to fuel their purpose.
The sisters’ kitchen experiments evolved into a bustling enterprise, bottling their concoctions in mason jars, then progressing to bulk orders, statewide deliveries and ultimately, a commercial space in Conway. Located in a food desert, the smoothies aren’t just tasty, but tailored to combat health disparities prevalent among minorities.
"Our passion is helping us to ignite our purpose,” they said. “We are being exposed to different people and opportunities, which helps with exposure."
Coleman and Strong have faced challenges with visibility of their store and financial business literacy as first-generation entrepreneurs. But the sisters say they’re extending grace to themselves and making improvements as they go.
Both graduated from the University of South Carolina and are proud to be among the Black- and minority-owned businesses along the Grand Strand. The pair have plans to bring the Juice Crush experience to a local fitness club in Myrtle Beach in the next month, expanding their customer base to tourists.