(left to right) Sisters Montana and Christina Bailey, owners of Polar Bear Kitchen
Polar Bear Kitchen (PBK), founded by sisters Montana and Christina Bailey, is a Black-owned women's company "inspired by the world to create a flavor everyone can vibe with."

PBK's slogan, "Not your average smoothie company," reflects how PBK creates uniquely named smoothies that build awareness of social issues and collaborates with nonprofits to donate a portion of proceeds from each smoothie sold. In the SEE-LA Seasoned Accelerator Program, the sisters received guidance on finding their target customer base by learning how to tell their story through various outlets, which helped them significantly grow their online engagement and community of support.

Additionally, their time with advisors through the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) helped them clarify their vision for sustainability and change through their smoothie products. In turn, they revamped their website, established a solid narrative for funding applications, and continue to build their portfolio.

During summer 2020, PBK smoothies were offered at farmer's markets and community events with names such as "#Enough" and "Clear," which resonated well with many customers.

The Bailey sisters said, "The highlight of the accelerator program was working through so many dynamics of growth. We managed to touch on the growth of marketing in its variations, accounting, operations and logistics. I believe working with the SBDC gave us a better understanding of financial structures as well as pinpointing our needs and wants as owners."

Overall, the sister team said that they felt the program helped them instill accountability, become more professional, and hone in on their community's needs. Following guidance from the SEE-LA business coaches led to a 100 percent sales increase, prompting PBK to double their sales inventory.

This summer, they opened their first PBK brick-and-mortar location in Van Nuys. After a short adjustment period in their new location, they are now going strong, serving long-time supporters and new faces in their neighborhood smoothie shop.

Today, Polar Bear Kitchen's Van Nuys location and Farmer's Market booth in Hollywood is still filled with purpose-driven "cultural and culinary" smoothies that live up to their mission of providing healthier options and educating their city.

EWDD administers and supports several incubators in the City of Los Angeles through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, including Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA), which supports food entrepreneurs by helping them become sustainable and profitable with farmers markets.

The SEE-LA Seasoned Accelerator Program provides individualized coaching from food industry experts. The unique program helps existing food vendors from SEE-LA's network of farmer's markets and offers a sales platform for new entrepreneurs.

Through a curriculum tailored to the food and beverage industry, the program's team of advisors and webinar instructors share skills that assist small business owners in growing their businesses. The program is in its second year of operation and has helped more than two dozen food entrepreneurs weather and thrive during the 2020 pandemic-related economic downturn.

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of October 11, 2021. Read this issue and more.