The past year of Tammara Ramona’s life has been a roller-coaster ride.
From living in her car to running her own successful smoothie business out of the Allen Neighborhood Center, Ramona’s story is inspirational for anybody looking to finally step out on their own. And today, she proudly sits on the throne as the “Smoothie Queen” of Lansing.
After being let go from a call center job in late 2019, Ramona, who is 28, decided to pursue a living where she could be her own boss. She spent an evening looking up smoothie recipes online and after making her own and realizing how delicious her creation was, she decided to give it a go selling her own smoothies. She had seen other people selling homemade food online and figured there was definitely a market out there for her product.
“I made a post on Facebook that said, ‘Hey I’m starting a smoothie business. If you’re interested, this is what I am offering.’ To my surprise, a lot of people were interested,” Ramona said. “I made $300 in one day — just selling smoothies out of my apartment.” (For a story on the legality of unlicensed food sales and the safety of consuming such products, see P. 11.)
Despite some initial success moving smoothies from home, she couldn’t keep up with her expenses and could not afford a permanent residence. “Sales slowed down and I started falling behind. I didn’t plan and I didn’t save. I was no longer able to support myself and I had to live in my car. From January to April of 2020, I was sleeping in my car and living in Airbnbs and hotels,” Ramona said.
But no matter what, she refused to return to a corporate job.
Ramona informed her Facebook followers of her situation after receiving messages asking why she was no longer selling smoothies. It didn’t take long before she received public support.
Several people reached out to her with donations. Some allowed Ramona to use their kitchens for making smoothies, which she would sell and deliver from her car. Eventually, she saved enough to purchase licenses to open up Smoothie Queen at the Allen Neighborhood Center. Ramona was so determined to pursue her own career and be her own boss that she spent her savings on licensing fees before finding a place to stay.
“A lot of people thought I was crazy for putting that before finding a permanent residence. The food licensing cost me around $2,000, but I knew that once I had it, more money would come in and I’d be able to afford a place,” Ramona said.
Since October, Ramona has had her own place and her smoothies have become more popular. They are unique because they are dairy-free and are highly elaborate in their preparation and presentation. Ramona purposefully creates off-the-wall smoothies so people will share pictures of them on social media and expand her clientele through word of mouth. “That was how I grew, people sharing their pictures on social media,” Ramona said.
Most of all, Ramona thanks the Lansing community for supporting the vision of a young Black female business owner.
“I knew I didn’t want to return to the 9 to 5 life. I knew I would feel like more of a failure if I went back to that instead of following my dreams,” Ramona said.
Located inside Allen Neighborhood Center
1611 E. Kalamazoo St., Lansing
Monday, noon to 4 p.m.
Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday, noon to 4 p.m.
(517) 512-2635, Facebook.com/SmoothieQueenLansing