January 2021

Making a Healthy Business Venture

Build Institute Fort Wayne graduate Flora Barron was always concerned with health and wellness. Being in shape, she said, “Is something that I struggle with.” So, when she decided to […]

Build Institute Fort Wayne graduate Flora Barron was always concerned with health and wellness. Being in shape, she said, “Is something that I struggle with.” So, when she decided to open Kanela, a new coffee, juice, and smoothie shop at 618 South Harrison St., she steered its offerings and environment so “A family and their kids could enjoy healthy treats that aren’t going to fill them up with sugar.”

Following a previous venture as half of the Flora & Lily’s Mexican Kitchen food truck, Barron chose a downtown location for Kanela. The shop, which opened officially on November 11, 2020, is located down the street from Promenade Park, close to the city’s first boutique hotel, where Harrison and Pearl streets intersect near The Landing.

Flora Barron Kanela’s

“This location has a lot of potential,” she said. “This is going to be a very popular area. And people like to walk.”

Barron, who had been reading about starting a business, enrolled in the Build Institute program—a nine-week business curriculum geared toward minority entrepreneurs—in October 2019. She said the Build Institute, with its step-by-step instruction, made the information she’d been reading feel real.

“Opening a business in America was something I wasn’t familiar with,” Barron said. “[Build] gave me the structure to start and answered a lot of my questions.” Through the program, she found herself connected with professionals, like CPAs and lawyers, who apprised her of considerations and laws she hadn’t read about.

Originally from southern Mexico, Barron taught for twenty years after graduating from IPFW (now Purdue Fort Wayne) with a major in education. Recently, she taught at Miami Middle School. “I actually wanted to become an accountant,” she said, “but I like teaching and the schedule was better for my family.”

Speaking of family, Barron isn’t the only one to open a shop selling juices. She said her family in Mexico migrated to the northern part of the country and opened a juice shop; they now sell the popular Jugos Veracruz juices. Here in Fort Wayne, some of Kanela’s employees are Barron’s family members; she has nine totals.

Even after graduating from the Build Institute, Barron said it took time to transform the space on South Harrison into the shop she wanted. She continued learning, networking, and crystalizing her idea, all while navigating the roadblocks created by COVID-19.

She worked with the shop’s contractor to create a cozy environment, which is evident by the open space and open windows that now greet customers. “I wanted people to sit in a way so they could look outside,” Barron said, commenting on the bar tables up front. A Fort Wayne map is there to make customers curious about the city, she added.

Flora Barron Kanela’s

Returning customers can accumulate points with the shop’s rewards program, to earn free pastries and drink upgrades. Kanela also sells doughnuts from local shops.

As for the menu, smoothies were in Barron’s original shop concept. Her smoothies, natural and made with core supplements, fruit, milk alternatives, and probiotics, are “something people can actually enjoy because they’re good for your health, not like a Smoothie King [drink] that’s made with sugar.” The offerings are designed to assist with most health goals, like burning calories, she said.

Kanela’s Green Boost is the shop’s most popular juice, made with apple, ginger, and cucumber. And the coffee for their lattes come from a distributor out of Indianapolis. “It’s very strong,” Barron said, “and very good.”

Kanela, at 618 Harrison St., is open Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Information for this article was taken from a previously published article in Input Fort Wayne.