We walked into the little store front off Austin Ave, and it was absolutely adorable. It made me even more excited that we were about to meet the mastermind behind the whole place. As we approached the door, I had no idea what I was about to walk into. My friend had only offhandedly mentioned a small portion of the back story of Luna Juice Bar.
Summer Shine, the founder and owner of Luna Juice Bar, is one of the biggest personalities I’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with. When we walked into her new shop I was taken aback. Summer’s hair was dyed a bold, bright hue, and her arm was covered with vibrantly colored tattoos. Little did I know that these physical aspects were actual representations of her personality.
Blenders whirred in the back of the store, and the air smelled fresh and clean. Quotes painted on the walls added splashes of color to a tastefully simple room of black and white tables and green succulents. Megan, an employee who had met my friend only once before, came out from the back to welcome her with a hug.
We sat down at a table covered with all sorts of different drinks and smoothies and quickly found out we had walked into the middle of a morning of product development (aka taste-testing new smoothies). In between sips as she tested the new flavors, Summer dove right into her story—which is also Luna’s story.
Summer was totally and completely herself from the moment we arrived, which made it easy to sit down and hear her story. Her story is one of overcoming hardship and finding joy and hope in the process.
“I have a history of drug abuse and alcoholism,” Summer explained quite frankly. “I’m real black and white – I’m either doing really good: exercising everyday, meal prepping, doing the right thing for my mind, body and soul, going to church every Sunday OR I’m smoking crack on the eastside.”
Although Summer has no business experience, she’s spent a lot of time in the restaurant world and moved quickly up the ladder at any job she was in. After describing multiple periods of sobriety and relapse, Summer told us about a major turning point in her life. “While I was in rehab I went through a program that helped me learn how to write a business plan and ask investors for investment,” she explained.
After presenting her plan to a group of investors, Summer received her first microloan. With $5,000 and a juicer she had purchased herself, Summer was able to start up Luna Juice Bar. “That loan had an 18-month note on it. I was able to pay it back in twelve to thirteen,” Summer recalled proudly. After that she had three more investors believe in her. And that was the beginning of Luna.
As an Austin native, Summer likes to be the “cool kid on the block,” so Waco wasn’t always where she wanted to be. But after moving here and meeting her husband, Summer admits, “I stayed in Waco for love.”
Because both she and her husband are addicts in recovery, they are both passionate about second chances. In fact, 30% of Summer’s staff consists of people recovering from some kind of addiction. And the profits from Luna Juice Bar fund recovery houses for people with addictions right here in Waco.
While there is substantial heartache that comes with the territory, Summer is willing to give people chance after chance. “We get to see lives change. We had a girl who worked here last year who had smoked meth the day before we hired her, and now she’s a manager at HEB and she has her kids back.”
When the heartache does come, Summer responds with both boldness and humility. She told us that sometimes, “someone’s done something to me, and I’ve been like, ‘I can’t believe they did that.’ And then five minutes later the thought is, ‘Oh my god, I did that to one of my employers in the past. I’m going to call them.’”
Summer’s goal for Luna is to make it a safe place for anyone to be able to come and have a good time. Once a month Luna will host a “So-Bar,” and the storefront will turn into a club-like scene serving mocktails (which is a well-known cocktail, just without the alcohol).
“At the core of who I am, I am a party girl. And just because I’m sober I can’t dismiss that.” The “So-Bar” is a positive and fun outlet for Summer’s party-girl side, and she’s opening that up to other people like her.
“We’re not the people that others are going like, ‘Oh, they’re so cool,’” Summer was quick to admit, but she seems to be just fine with that. She enjoys being known for helping people, and she’s become a point of contact in the community for recovering addicts seeking employment. “I want this place to be a place where people gather, safe and sober.” She’s not only creating a space for her to be clean and safe, but for others as well.
Summer is a very passionate and open personality; to meet her is to know her. When we walked into Luna Juice Bar, it felt like we were walking into family.
If you asked me to sum Summer up, this is what I would say: Summer Shine is a champion, not only of others but of herself. She is a woman who walks in the knowledge of who she is. She knows her value and she knows how to value others. She is incredibly resilient.
**You can check out Luna Juice Bar at the Magnolia Silos, the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, or at their new brick and mortar location at 1516 Austin Ave, Suite C. Retail locations include Drug Emporium and Rosie Jo Meals.**
Joanna (Jo) Pineda is originally from Florida but now calls Waco home. When she’s not working as nanny, Jo can be found managing multiple social media sites and exercising her creative genius as part of her work for a local business. In her spare time, Jo loves spending time with friends, camping, and scheming about the next tattoo she’s going to get.