Today I am SO excited to share the story of Ena Jones with you. It’s not just because Ena is one of the few people I’ve profiled on here that I don’t know personally - which, let’s be honest, is pretty exciting (as it means my message is getting out and my brand is spreading!)… BUT, the main reason I am SO excited to share Ena’s story with you is because she and I have a lot in common.
I’m sure you’ll agree once you read this interview that she is a BIG DREAMER like I am! Anyone who has heard me talk about the Space knows that I have big dreams. And also (probably) knows that I’m frequently told that my dream is too big and there is no one who will pay for it. I also want to include a fresh food cafe, so there’s that.
But, like Ena, my dream matters. Bringing something to your community that you know your community wants and needs is one of the greatest callings a soul can have. I wish for Ena (and for myself) that all of those people are wrong and we are right - and our dreams will come to fruition.
I also wish, for myself, that I get to visit Ena, meet her in person, and enjoy a meal and a cup of coffee at Roots & Vines! I hope her story inspires you, as it has me, to keep going after that BIG DREAM - and to do it with grace and spunk.
Tell us about your business. What do you do? Who do you serve? How long have you been at it?
Roots & Vine Produce and Cafe is in the startup phase, and we aim to be a chain of cashless convenience market/cafes outlined in food deserts across the country - starting in Chicago. One of our most important missions is offering black farmers, urban growers and co-ops an opportunity to be our suppliers of fresh produce and shelf stable foods. We will create jobs for the community as well as host #GreenTableTalks to encourage our customers on healthier eating, giving food demos, workshops, and classes.
Why did you start your business?
Cooking is something I'm passionate about, and I love the coffee shop atmosphere. I've owned small food establishments before, but the idea to combine all the aspects of Roots & Vine is where my heart is .
What does "social good business" or "values based earning" mean to you?
"Social good business" is having a communal or social aspect to the business that adds value other than to the company. Our social good business is supporting black farmers and our Green Table Talks.
What is your favorite part about running a social good business or your favorite experience since you started?
Meeting all these amazing black farmers has been so eye-opening. I enjoy talking and learning from them. I can't grow a stick in the ground, so I’m easily impressed with the things they pull out of the dirt.
What is your biggest struggle in running a social good business?
Although we are still in the build out phase and we are not yet open, fundraising is a challenge. Seeing all the resources to make something great happen and hearing people say the dream is too big is a little disappointing sometimes.
What would you like most to accomplish in the next year? 5 years?
I would like to have at least 20 franchise locations in 5 years.
Who are your business icons, heroines or mentors?
What's your #1 tip for someone just getting started running a values-based business?
Think beyond yourself and your personal opinion. Don’t look to be an influence; look to be influenced, that’s were the knowledge is.
Money is a tool, not much different than a hammer. If you don't worship a hammer the same goes for money.
What is the last book you read?
The Laws of Human Nature, by Robert Greene