With 20-plus years of diligent employment as bus drivers for the City of Ann Arbor on their resumes, the husband-and-wife team of John and Laronda Freeman decided in 2022 to take the bold step of becoming entrepreneurs.
Following months of planning, strategizing and waiting for government entities to cross the “t”‘s and dot the “i”s, the Freemans’ inspiring dream is about to become reality.
If a routine health department inspection goes as expected on May 22, Soul Glow — located at 43447 Joy Road — will open as soon as May 23, with a Canton Chamber of Commerce grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony set for June 2.
‘The juice is worth the squeeze’
Judging by the savvy marketing the Freemans have utilized leading up to the launch of their venture, you’d never know they were first-time business owners.
Their business’s motto says it all: The juice is worth the squeeze.
Soul Glow’s commercial space — situated in the same shopping complex occupied by Aqua Tots and the Salvation Army — is brightly decorated, making visitors feel welcome and comfortable.
And their robust menu items are tagged with creative names.
For instance, two of the pressed juices’ labels are the energizing “Beast Mode” and “Kale To The Victors” — a clever way of paying homage to the University of Michigan fandom.
Robust menu of healthy options
In addition to freshly-pressed juices, Soul Glow offers smoothies and wide selection of healthy food items.
“We first started discussing this idea while sitting around during the pandemic,” John Freeman said. “In November (of 2022), we started looking for a location and this place kind of found us.
“It checked all of our boxes and it used to be a bubble tea business, so the set-up was perfect.”
The Freemans put a ton of thought into the name of their business before coming up with the perfect idea.
“Our thought process was, if you eat better, you feel better and your soul glows, inside and out,” he said.
All about hard work
John Freeman said he and his wife have burned the midnight oil bringing their concept to fruition.
They will continue their jobs as City of Ann Arbor bus drivers. Laronda works a 4 p.m. to midnight shift while John works 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“I have to give most of the credit to my wife — she’s the one who has come up with the recipes and the marketing ideas — and she has the toughest shift of the two of us,” Freeman said. “It came down to, hey, you can talk about something or you can do it.
“We decided to do it because we didn’t want to look back 10 years from now and say, ‘Gosh, I wish we would have tried that business.’ Win, lose or draw, we can say we gave it a shot.”
The journey: Hiccups and blessings
Freeman said their journey has been anything but a super-smooth ride — but they’re not complaining.
“There have been ups and downs … things that have happened beyond our control that we’ve learned to live with,” he said. “But for every hiccup we’ve experienced, there’s been a blessing.
“For example, we recently learned that a veterinarian office was moving next door and, coincidentally, we offer 100% natural dog treats we make from the pulp of the fruits we use.”
John Freeman said Laronda’s talent for concocting delicious and healthy juice and smoothie recipes has amazed him.
“Personally, I would probably never sit down and eat kale,” he said, chuckling. “But the way she mixes kale with something sweet — like apples — I’ll drink it because she knows how to make it very palatable.”
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