By Emily Lohec | Staff Writer
Denitia Blount, founder and owner of Oh My Juice in Waco, spoke about her experience taking on the challenge of starting her own business as part of Hankamer School of Business’ Confessions of an Entrepreneur (COE) speaker series.
Blount began her journey of founding Oh My Juice, a healthy smoothie and salad restaurant, in 2014 with her friend Tierra Barber, both of whom are Baylor alumni.
“I didn’t start my business because of a Baylor business degree or an entrepreneurship degree,” Blount said. “It started with the most embarrassing moment of my life— I was sick every day for about five years and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.”
Blount spoke about her dependence on pain killers due to a car accident in which she had been involved. She also mentioned a stomach illness she suffered while catching a flight to Costa Rica. However, both of these moments proved to change her mindset about the food she was putting into her body.
“It was a life changing moment because I decided I can’t live like this any longer. We came back to the states and I solely committed to a vegan diet for two solid years. I never got sick again, all my pain went away and today I tell people food can change your life,” Blount said.
Blount also talked about how starting a business is not always as easy as it may seem. She felt herself become over-whelmed with doubts in the beginning of her venture which began to weigh her down. However, she let words of encouragement from her support team push her towards achieving her goals. Blount spoke of her past partner who played an important role in motivating her to continue forward.
“When you are starting a new adventure in your life, one of the best things you can have is just cheerleaders behind you saying, ‘You can do it, you can do it’, and that’s truly what she was,” Blount said.
Being a new member of the business world, Blount found an easy and successful way to begin the promotion and selling of Oh My Juice to local customers.
“It was the farmer’s market. We came, we sold juice and it was easy—it’s non-fail because if I didn’t feel like doing it one week, I didn’t have to do it,” Blount said. “It was the easiest escape route because I didn’t really have to commit to anything.”
Blount felt her soft launch into the local community was a way to learn from other local businesses and startup companies to better herself and her business. However, Blount ran into some issues when she realized that the IRS viewed Oh My Juice, what she thought at the time was a part time hobby, as an actual business. She sees her mistakes as learning opportunities for not only herself but those wanting to take their business ideas to the next level.
“So again, confessions of an entrepreneur— learn from other people’s mistakes. I don’t care if it’s a hobby— if you think someday it might turn into a business, treat it as a business,” Blount said. “Go out there and talk to those people who have started their own businesses and who have made those 1000 mistakes so you don’t have to make 999 of them.”
Blount explained how her background in teaching had nothing to do with the business-related aspects that came with being an entrepreneur. Blount quickly realized she was at a loss when it came to certain terms, rules and recommendations within the business field.
“My favorite saying in business is ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’,” Blount said. “Sometimes in business you just don’t know. You didn’t know you were supposed to ask that question because you know nothing about that.”
Blount finds a key component in jumpstarting a business to be hiring and working alongside like-minded employees filled with encouragement, hard work and vision.
“What I slowly began to understand is that I didn’t build anything myself— I have a whole team of people,” Blount said. “These people have talked me up, have helped me do better and have showed up every day and done their job.”
Blount sees her employees has an important asset to her journey who have made her reputation and business practice flow smoothly, and who have helped Oh My Juice continue to flourish each day. Austin junior Nora Windham-White began working for Blount at Oh My Juice over the summer, and has found Blount to be someone who appreciates and values her ideas.
“This job is on a lot smaller scale, which really lets us learn from Denitia or a manager one on one,” Windham-White said. “Denitia is so nice and easy to communicate with and they are open to ideas that you think might help the business rather those managers who might be closed-minded to employees’ thoughts.”
Blount sees the work environment as a place which keeps employees happy but also helps foster a positive attitude through the work day.
“This makes the environment more comfortable and fun to work in,” Windhand-White said. “It also keeps customers coming back.”
As Blount has progressed and moved forwarded with her ideas and showcased what her business has to offer the community, she has realized that there are always going to be ups and downs in business, but that times of growth and success make the hard work worth the struggle.
“If I could leave you all with one word of advice, it’s perseverance,” Blount said. “No matter where you are, no matter what you’re studying, no matter what you are passionate about— you can do it.”
Kathy Carr, program manager for Baylor’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, has taken charge of the COE series on campus, dedicating her time to assisting students with taking their area of interest to the next level. She sees the COE series events as a way for students to learn practical advice, especially when it comes to persevering in the workplace when times get tough.
“I think the COE events give a great snippet into the passion, grit, work and even lack of sleep that come with owning a business. Students will hopefully realize that owning a business is about so much more than ‘being your own boss,’” Carr said. “I love the storytelling aspect of the COE events. While each story has been very, very different, there’s been one very glaring similarity…the passion.”