UI Business student opens Shine Açaí

Zoe+Hannon%2C+sophomore+in+Business%2C+presents+her+acai+bowl+in+front+of+Foellinger+Auditorium+on+Friday.+Shine+Acai+opened+this+May.

Brigida Dockus

Zoe Hannon, sophomore in Business, presents her acai bowl in front of Foellinger Auditorium on Friday. Shine Acai opened this May.

By Catherine Pavilionis, Contributing Writer

Finally settled into the adjusted workload of online learning, students are able to find some sort of routine in the madness. For Zoe Hannon, sophomore in Business, there is always something going on between being a full-time student and running her own business.

Having had plenty of downtime in quarantine, Hannon decided to piece together a plan for an idea that she had been mulling over for weeks—starting her own business. After serious consideration and with the support from her family, she opened Shine Açaí this May.

“With all of the hardships that people are experiencing in the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to create a product that could really brighten people’s lives and bring happiness to them,” Hannon said. “When I realized that I had all this time with quarantine, some new ideas and things that I really wanted to apply from my classes inspired me to start this business.”

Starting a business is no easy task, so when Hannon decided to take on the challenge, she was faced with the difficult decision of how to begin or where to turn.

“Obviously when you think, ‘I want to start my own business,’ the first thing in my brain was, ‘Where do I start?’” Hannon said. “The first thing I really did was apply for a business license through Palatine because I felt that these people that help new businesses register might be able to give me some guidance in terms of the next steps.”

After opening her business, Hannon began going to her local farmer’s market in Palatine every Saturday to set up a tent for her açaí bowls. Before long, she was selling out her bowls almost every weekend. As a way to serve her customers taking extra precautions for COVID, she began to make biweekly deliveries within a ten-mile radius of her town. With the support of her community, her business began to grow.

Zoe Hannon’s Shine Acai bowl rests on the ground. (Brigida Dockus)

Before classes began again in the fall, Hannon also had to find a way to make sure that she would be able to balance schoolwork and managing a small business. No longer at home to be able to go to the farmer’s market each weekend, she took on a new role while her parents and siblings took care of selling the product.

“The business didn’t stop when I came back to school because I am on campus this semester … Once I went away to school, I was doing all of the management operational oversight, while my siblings are the ones I hired to continue running the business in terms of making the bowls and being at the farmer’s market,” Hannon said. “In terms of managing workloads, it sometimes can be a little challenging … it’s really just been about a lot of clear communication and organization.”

Looking to the future, Hannon hopes to be able to establish a building in her hometown in order to better serve a larger community of people. Her goal is to take on more of a management role so that she can help her business to grow.

“I would say that the dream would be to establish a brick-and-mortar location in my hometown within the next year,” Hannon said. “This business is kind of like my baby, where I’ve raised it, it has grown, and it would be hard because I wouldn’t be as involved. However, it would be wonderful because then I could also be pursuing other things at the same time.”

[email protected]