Catiesha Pierson’s dream to own a juice bar by the time she turned 30 had just come true, when everything stopped.
Pierson signed the lease on a space in Minneapolis’s Longfellow neighborhood in March, just a couple of months before her 30th birthday.
Walls still needed to be built and paperwork filled out when the coronavirus effectively shut down Minneapolis. When schools closed, she had to balance starting a business while supervising her 10-year-old son’s schoolwork from home. Then, unrest gripped the neighborhood where she lived and worked, after George Floyd was killed by police. The new business, called the Dripping Root, is located at 4002 Minnehaha Av., just 1.4 miles from the fire-damaged Third Precinct.
“Everything in this neighborhood has been destroyed,” said Pierson. “I was super worried. ‘Oh my God, is my business going to end before it starts?’”
Somehow, her building was left untouched, and now, Pierson is closer than ever to her goal. The Dripping Root is expected to open by August.
“I see the Dripping Root as the rose left in the garden to bloom,” she said. “It stayed there for a reason, because it was needed in the community.”
As neighborhood residents emerged each morning after the chaos to clean and rebuild, Pierson became hopeful her business could also help bring the community back together.
“I don’t know of any black-owned juice bars,” she said. “I think that’s one thing that’s going to bring people there of all races, of all cultures. Because there have been times that I’ve gone places, and I’ve been looked past. I didn’t feel welcome there. My money didn’t feel welcome there. So to have a place where nobody is going to get looked past, I think that’s very important.”
Fans and followers of her cold-pressed juices seem to agree. Since Floyd’s death became a worldwide movement, consumers have been looking for ways to champion black-owned businesses. Pierson has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. A GoFundMe campaign to help her complete construction is close to meeting its $70,000 goal. Artists are contributing murals. The wall and floor tilework are being donated, and Room and Board has offered to provide the furnishings.
“I’m so happy it’s coming together,” Pierson said. “The amount of support I’m getting from all over — I don’t even have words for it. I literally cry at the happiness.”
In addition to fruit and vegetable juices, look for “very Instagrammable” smoothie bowls, chia seed pudding and kombucha on tap when the Dripping Root opens.
A single mom, Pierson’s road to entrepreneurship was long and winding. She went in and out of a career in collections over a decade, with stints as an interior designer and cosmetologist. She always brought homemade juices with her to work, wherever it was. Colleagues took an interest, and so did followers on social media.
She started selling juice by word of mouth, and explored expanding to farmers markets. But rather than pay to use a kitchen, she decided to launch her own.
Despite the setbacks and delays, amid a pandemic and an uprising, Pierson’s still meeting her goal of owning a juice bar at 30.
“My story is real,” she said. “I am a black woman. I am a single mom. All odds are literally supposed to be against me. And it’s happening.”
Sharyn Jackson • 612-673-4853