BY MELANIE MCINTYRE ON SEPTEMBER 1, 2011 AT 8:00 AM
JC’s Sweet Ice Tea is the latest beneficiary of The Boston Beer Co.’s Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program.
The Columbus-based business has received a $10,000 loan from the program, which assists entrepreneurs in the food, beverage, and hospitality industries.
“Our product can be found in a number of locations around Columbus, including Whole Foods, and right now we simply can’t keep up with the demand for our product, which I suppose is a good problem to have,” says Jackie Chapman, owner of JC’s Sweet Ice Tea. “This loan is giving me the opportunity to grow my business, which otherwise I would not have been able to do.”
Chapman plans to use the funds to purchase more inventory, increase the volume of production, and to drive down overall costs so she can keep up with demand.
“This is what it’s all about: giving small businesses that boost they may need to keep up in the struggling economy,” says Jim Koch, founder of The Boston Beer Co. and brewer of Samuel Adams. “Any small food and beverage business owner in Ohio is encouraged to apply.”
Loan amounts range from $500 to $25,000.
The Boston Beer Co. brought Brewing the American Dream to Ohio in February.
To save on the cost of owning her own storefront or paying high rental rates, Chapman has been preparing her product, based on a family recipe, in a shared kitchen at The Ohio State University. However, beginning today she will be moving operations to Himes Vending Inc. on Groves Road, which is available from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
“My husband and I can make a lot of tea in that amount of time,” she says.
Though she’s wanted to be her own boss since earning an MBA from Ohio University, Chapman’s business plan didn’t come together until about 15 months ago, when she was ordering a sandwich at Creole Kitchen in Columbus’s King-Lincoln District and began telling Chef Henry Butcher about her sweet tea.
“I knew that sweet tea and Creole would be a great match and so did he,” she says. “He loved it and so did his customers. Although we’ve added 16-ounce bottles of tea, we began by only selling gallons to Chef. He still gets gallons to this day.”
Chapman’s sweet tea can also be purchased at Whole Foods in Columbus and Dublin, The Hills Market, the Hudson Street Market, Bexley Natural Market, Carfanga’s, Clintonville Natural Community Market, Sarefino’s Pizzeria and Italian Deli in The North Market, Casa Sazone, and Smothered Gravy.
Stores in Whole Foods’ Mid Atlantic region carry the sweet tea as well.
In addition to the funding available to small businesses in the food and beverage industry, Brewing the American Dream also provides the tools intended to help those businesses achieve financial independence and realize their full potential.
Among those tools are speed coaching workshops that connect business owners with Samuel Adams employees who provide advice on various topics, such as sales, accounting, graphic design, public relations, marketing, information technology, and packaging.
Chapman learned of Brewing the American Dream when she attended one of those workshops in June at the Economic and Community Development Institute.
The next two workshops hosted by Brewing the American Dream will be held Oct. 24 at the Shaker Launch House in Cleveland and Oct. 25 at the Emanuel Community Center in Cincinnati with local partner Bad Girl Ventures.