One of Largest U.S. Beverage Brands is Owned by a Woman from Detroit | Urban Girl Mag
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One of Largest U.S. Beverage Brands is Owned by a Woman from Detroit

Nailah Ellis-Brown is the owner of Ellis Isle, Inc (formerly Ellis Island Tea), a Detroit-based beverage company and maker of Ellis Isle Tea and Wet Shuga that has made headlines as a business to watch. Ellis-Brown started the company from the trunk of her car and is now bottling her family recipe for retailers like Amazon and Target.

Over the last decade, Nailah has demonstrated what pure dedication and perseverance can create. She has grown her company into a sizable enterprise, gaining the attention of investors such as Kevin Hart. Nailah is a trailblazer and innovative risk taker who is paving the way for women and people of color in business.

Entrepreneurship has been a part of Nailah’s plan from an early age.  At 18, she dropped out of college after one semester when she realized that student loan debt didn’t align with her goals. As a budding start-up, Nailah was constantly rejected for business loans. However, she didn’t give up.  She decided to focus on sales and savings and sold her special tea from the trunk of her car for years.  She was so confident in her creation that she offered a money back guarantee.  Over time, Ellis Isle Tea built a strong following and eventually Nailah purchased her own factory. 

Today, she is one of the largest female-owned beverage companies in the U.S, as well as one of the few — if not only — Black women to own a manufacturing plant. Ellis Isle remains on the cutting edge of innovation in the beverage industry. Her newest product, Wet Shuga, uses cold-pressed cane juice as a sweetener. This is not only a healthier alternative to the standard sugar, but it also offers the company an opportunity to engage the cane industry and its under-resourced farmers — a passion of Nailah’s.

Elevating the Ellis Isle brand is one of Nailah’s main goals, but elevating her community is just as important. Nailah made a conscious decision to hire re-entry citizens to work in her facility and have a second chance at a quality life.  She understands the economic influence her company has and values her contribution to Detroit’s job market as an employer. Nailah and her team proudly pour into the lives of the Ellis Isle staff and wholeheartedly believe in planting seeds of hope and prosperity. 
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