Brooklyn-based entrepreneur Francesca Chaney, 21, is expanding the dietary options of folks living in inner cities.
In 2017, Chaney, the founder of organic food and beverage company Sol Sips, launched a pop-up cafe in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood. To say the restaurant gained a few fans in its short residency would be an understatement. In what was initially slated to be a 3-month venture, Sol Sips has been offered a permanent home at the location.
Through the company, Chaney aims to make healthy eating easily accessible for people living in East New York, Brownsville, Bushwick, and Bed-Stuy. She believes there are limited options for people who live in the inner cities to eat healthy due to cost and convenience. Buying $10 green smoothies, three times a week can get pretty expensive.
"The wellness community can be really classist," Chaney tells ESSENCE. "Our intention [with Sol Sips] is to make organic plant-based beverage and bites available to everyone," she said.
Chaney's inspiration for Sol Sips came from gaining an understanding of what contributed to -- and detracted from -- her personal well-being. As a student working three jobs, she instantly noticed the difference a healthy lifestyle was having on her productivity and energy.
"At the time, I had just moved out on my own and began brewing teas and making juices and smoothies. I saw that they were working and I was feeling more energized and lighter," she said.
Chaney started testing her recipes with her family and realized the difference it was making in their lives. Prior to launching the shop, the young business-owner was already well-versed in health and wellness. She previously worked in an apothecary and wellness center. Currently, she is a full-spectrum doula.
"In many Black, Indigenous and Eastern communities it’s a tradition to meditate, grow your own food, create medicinal concoctions and facilitating healing rituals, yet many of the same communities have been ostracized for a very long time," she said.
While serving up green goods to the community, Chaney's also tackling the financial burden healthy eating often presents. Guests at her cafe can order a full meal, including a beverage, on a sliding scale of $7-$15. "My mission to help close the accessibility gap in wellness," she said.
As a venture-funded restaurant,the Brooklynite said having access to capital has been challenging. She's currently in the fundraising stages of buying the storefront she's been offered.
"I’m also challenged with finding innovative ways to grow my community through my business in a way where it’s a win/win for the business and my community," she said. She is also not letting her roadblocks stop her from dreaming. The young entrepreneur hopes to launch a farm-to-table internship program.
"I look forward to launching our farm-to-table initiative and creating a Sol Sips internship program for Black and brown girls in East NY, Brownsville, Bushwick, and Bedstuy," she says.
Chaney launched a GoFundMe campaign for people who want to invest in the company.