Shindig's JoAnne and Maanaan Sabir, in matching T-shirts that celebrate Sherman Rising, a coffee blend they created for their first coffee + juice cafe.
About a decade ago, Milwaukee residents JoAnne and Maanaan Sabir discovered the therapeutic benefits of juice as a way to help their ailing son. That blossomed into local retail distribution followed by their own store, called The Juice Kitchen, which also sold coffee.
They have since rebranded the business as Shindig and, earlier this year, were chosen as one of 10 emerging food and beverage brands to participate in PepsiCo’s North America Greenhouse program.
In addition to a $20,000 grant and the potential to receive an additional $100,000 from PepsiCo, Shindig has been receiving personalized mentorship from executives at the CPG giant.
Milwaukee agency Hanson Dodge is doing pro bono design and branding work for Shindig, as well as helping set up its ecommerce platform.
In this interview, JoAnne talks about the origin of the family’s juice business and their desire not only to be commercially successful, but to help unite communities along the way.
CPG FYI: How did you and Maanaan get involved in juicing?
JoAnne Sabir: It started with my son Taj, who has a rare genetic disorder. My husband has a health and wellness background and started juicing for him. Prior to juicing, our course of care was antibiotics—six months on, six months off—and hospital stays. So we figured there had to be a better way.
We found that watermelon was, for lack of a better word, an expectorant. It got all of the mucus and gooky stuff out, so we started juicing it and giving it to my son.
CPG FYI: Then what happened?
JoAnne: We decided this goodness shouldn’t be kept just for us but for all of our neighbors. We managed to get a small footprint in a friend’s bakery, then had lines down the street and around the corner. We quickly outgrew that.
At the time, Maanaan and I were working in community development and decided that we would host our business as an anchor institution inside of a new development in Central City, Milwaukee in 2011. Our son came up with the name The Juice Kitchen.
CPG FYI: Shindig refers to a big, lively party. How did you decide to go with that name when rebranding?
JoAnne: It was a word my grandmother used often. We were conjuring up who we wanted to be, and one of the visuals was a party in my husband’s grandmother’s home.
I guess for many, shindig is kind of an antiquated word, but it really reflects who we want to be and who we are in the community. Also, the word juice became really saturated, so we wanted to make sure we stood out and had ownership of our place in the market.
CPG FYI: How is the PepsiCo accelerator program going?
JoAnne: It’s a wonderful gift. We’re excited for the support of Pepsi and what it will mean for our growth and development. What we’ve been gifted, aside from the money, has been this pool of talent. They’ve been doing juice since Naked launched many, many years. Also, there’s been resurgence in juice, so we’re well-positioned.
CPG FYI: You’re getting ready to introduce Shindig beverages to a broader market. What’s the timing?
JoAnne: Our hope is early August. I would love it to be July. We’ll bring some of our fan favorites to the market first, like Purple Haze, Ginger Bang shots, Norf Ave and then Real Bucks—which was lifted from our connection with the [Milwaukee] Bucks. Our juices were in their training facility.
CPG FYI: You say your brand messaging will go beyond the appeal of the juices themselves. Please explain.
JoAnne: It’s a really turbulent time. People are struggling to see how do we rally, how do we come together as communities. Our message is really one of advancing and creating platforms for all for the greater good.