Mariam Sadawi started her juice business in September 2022.
She offered samples to students at Blackstone LaunchPad, an entrepreneurial space for UB students, and collected feedback by letting her patrons leave slips of paper with either a smiley or a frowny face.
Less than a year later, the UB alum and founder of Hint Juicery returned to the university, this time tabling at Blackstone LaunchPad’s Galentine’s Pop Up event.
Last Thursday’s pop up was meant to empower women, showcase small businesses owned by female-identifying students and give students with that entrepreneurial spark a place to connect, according to Reem Berman, a public health graduate student and Blackstone LaunchPad venture coach.
With a space for small businesses to display their products and creative processes, Berman hopes to show female founders that there’s a space for them at the university.
“Unfortunately, the entrepreneur space is still very white-male-dominated,” Berman said. “Oftentimes we see that women founders will pop in [Blackstone LaunchPad] or have amazing ideas but are always hesitant to move forward with them. So we were like, ‘how can we empower women to bring them out of their spaces [dorm rooms]?’”
Like many of these “dorm room businesses,” Hint Juicery started off small. In 2016, Sadawi was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease.
“I was told I would have to live off a bag for the rest of my life,” Sadawi said. “I was really, really sick. But I didn’t accept that reality.”
She started researching ingredients that could help alleviate her symptoms. After she started juicing with her own recipe, she found that her symptoms “decreased tremendously.“
In 2022, she was inspired by an entrepreneurship class and began working on her company. Her goal? Share her recipe and consume more of “natural, organic things such as fruits and vegetables.”
“As a woman, it’s so hard to get out there and compete with everyone else, especially in a business that is …male dominated,” Sadawi said, “I had a lot of support, and it strengthened me, made me realize that it’s okay to talk about my story. I kind of built my confidence step-by-step until I was confident enough to do it [run Hint Juicery] by myself.”
The event’s section of female student-run small businesses included Deez Munchies — a chocolate business run by senior criminology major DeAnna Scott — and Crafted by Camille, a waist beads and grad caps business founded by freshman psychology major Amani Camille.
Camille decided to table at the Galentine’s Pop Up event to promote her business after a hiatus.
“The Galentine’s [Pop Up] to me means women empowerment,” she said. “It’s all about the girls, and I love that.”
Tabling next to Camille was Scott, who held up her menu with a box of chocolate-covered strawberries and breakable chocolate hearts on display in front of her.
“I really love how it was targeted towards women and women empowerment,” Scott said about the Galentine’s Pop Up. “I really feel as though women deserve the spotlight, especially when it comes to businesses and I love when they step out and they put themselves out there.”
Sadawi says she got more than some publicity out of the event — she was inspired by the women around her.
“It makes me so proud that students here are going after their dreams,” she said. “It’s so hard to actually tell yourself ‘You know what? I want to do this [start a business], even with the good and the bad that comes with it.’ It makes me want to support them in any way I can.”
Learn more about Hint Juicery, Crafted by Camille and Deez Munchies at @hintjuicery, @craftedby_camille and @itsapiece_of_cake on Instagram.
Jasmin Yeung is a features editor and can be reached at email@example.com