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MAKING THE MARKET: JACQUELINE OF JC'S SWEET ICE TEA

CMD intern Ashton Millet caught up with JC for a few minutes as she was setting up for a busy market. Read his interview below.

Our vendor spotlight for this month is Jacquelyn Chapman of JC’s Sweet Ice Tea. Ms. JC is originally from Greenville, SC but now lives in Pataskala, OH. She is a self proclaimed “Licking County girl” now. Ms. JC’s purpose of selling her sweet tea and lemonades is to share a slice of southern hospitality in Ohio. She prides herself on selling what she calls the only real sweet tea in the area. One of the first things the Jacquelyn mentions when you come up to her stand is that every product taste different from each other and that each product has its own unique taste.

JC’s Sweet Ice Tea has been in business since 2011. The idea to launch JC’s sweet tea started one summer day in South Carolina. It all started with Ms. JC and her husband sitting down with family drinking sweet tea on the porch after dinner. The entrepreneurial spirit of Ms. JC started to go to work as she was drinking her sweet tea. She told her family, “lets sell this to the world.” Her family had doubted the plan so as soon as she got back to Ohio she started to lay the foundation for JC’s Sweet Ice Tea.

She started off selling her sweet tea in a farmers’ market in an alley in Columbus. At the time her and her husband would sell their sweet tea by the cup out of a bucket. Eventually she got the advice to begin to bottle her Sweet tea and Lemonade. From there JC’s Sweet Ice Tea began to grow. Jacquelyn said that, “once people have one bottle of my sweet ice tea they need to have more.” Now JC’s Sweet Ice Tea is in farmers’ markets, stores, whole foods, and restaurants all over central Ohio. The small business still continues to grow. Jacquelyn mentioned that she hopes to take the product “nationwide.” She is in talks with potential customers in various areas in the south from South Carolina to Louisiana along with others throughout Ohio.

I asked Ms. JC if she had any advice for those who may want to start their own small business. She said, “It’s a lot of work, so be careful what you wish for.” This wasn’t intended to scare off potential small business owners but it was intended to tell people to make sure that they know that being a small business owner is hard work. She knows that the behind the scenes work that goes into being a vendor is a large commitment. The Canal Market District Farmers’ market has helped much of that hard work pay off though. When talking about the Canal Market District Farmers’ market Ms. JC said that it has “allowed her to expand the knowledge of her brand.” Jacquelyn said that this farmers’ market has “really helped her customer base grow.”

JC’s Sweet Ice Tea isn’t the only thing that Jacquelyn is up to. When she isn’t at the Canal Market District Farmers’ market or working on her products she is also very active with her church. She sings in the choir and when she isn’t doing that she is also fulfilling her duties as a deaconess at her church. She also enjoys traveling whether it's going to Columbus with her family or driving across the country to California. She says she likes to do most of her work during the summer and then to travel during the winter. When it is time to wind down she usually watches movies with her husband.

To end the interview with JC’s Sweet Ice Tea I asked Jacquelyn what she was the most proud of. She said that she is the most proud of her energy and how the customers love her product. You can see how true this is if you watch Jacquelyn go to work at the farmers’ market. She talks to nearly every customer that walks by and when they try her products the smile on their faces can be seen a mile away. When talking to Ms. JC you really see that she has a lot of pride and passion for her product. Jacquelyn said that there are two things we should know, one is where you were born and the other is why you were born. She believes that she was born to bring her family’s sweet ice tea to as many people as possible.