Slush Naturals offers drinks made with fresh juice, unrefined cane sugar and water. Source: WBRC video
L-R: Avis and James Prince started the venture in their kitchen 10 years ago. Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -
A Birmingham woman was inspired to create an all-natural drink in an effort to help her family become healthier.
Avis Prince literally made lemonade when life gave her lemons 10 years ago.
"With the youngest of the two boys I was borderline for gestational diabetes and for the last maybe three or four years of my grandmother's life, I watched her suffer with the complications of diabetes," Prince said.
Her doctor told her to switch to a diabetic diet. After some intense research, Prince also tried to change the diets of her son and her husband, who was playing NFL and arena football. But trying to get them to trade their favorite drinks for water, like she had, became such a problem she says she prayed for a
"About two three nights later I woke up about 3 a.m. in the morning and just like you and I are talking, He started giving me the concept," she recalled.
After that divine vision, Prince began experimenting in her own kitchen and at the smoothie cafe she and her husband had started. While the failing economy forced the store to close, Prince continued perfecting her product until last year when a Whole Foods executive agreed to sell Slush Naturals in their Atlanta stores.
Their infant idea also got help from the Edge Kitchen.
"We're an incubator so we want them to come in for 18-24 months and then graduate," Melissa Mueller with the Edge Kitchen said. "We have a panel of business people we have bankers, business people who will take their business plan and show them what to do before they go to the bank."
While the Princes were getting comfortable with slowly ramping up production, consumers were getting comfortable with their product. By spring 2014, they were in eight whole foods stores in Georgia and at the store in Mountain Brook.
"They've done very well for us," Phil Robertson said.
He is the Mountain Brook store's grocery team leader.
"In the lemonade category, they're the leader and I like their back story how she's from Birmingham.
The more vendors with an Alabama background, they have a special place with me," Robertson said.
But keeping that special place on shelves has the family doing everything from production to distribution to marketing. They are now on track to open their own production facility. They hope to hire more employees soon.
The Prince family's products are enjoying the sort of growth that would make a lot of companies jealous, but that may be because their most important ingredients are not for sale in any store
"Prayer, water, fresh juice and just eating right," James Prince said.
"I could not have done this without him and I would not have wanted to go down this road with anybody but him," Avis Prince said.
Slush Naturals currently has five flavors that are made with unrefined cane sugar and they are in the process of rolling out more flavors without any added sugar. You can learn more by visiting http://www.slushnaturals.com.