Catching up with Junita Flowers, owner of Junita’s Jar

A woman standing and smiling for a photo.

Sunrise Banks profiled Junita Flowers, owner of Junita’s Jar, as part of our Banking on Change campaign in 2021. We recently caught up with Junita to see how life, and her business, have changed over the past few years.

Junita Flowers remembers her first introduction to Sunrise Banks like it was yesterday. About a decade ago, she was selling her cookies at an entrepreneurs’ farmers market in the parking lot of one of the bank’s branches. It was a cold and rainy day in April, so there were barely any customers. Most of the other vendors had packed up and gone home. But Junita stuck it out and eventually met Terri Banaszewski, one of the bank’s vice presidents, and sold her several bags of cookies.

“She just connected with me,” says Junita. “As a business owner and entrepreneur, I want my bank to know me. I followed up with Terri, and that’s when I became a Sunrise Banks customer.”

Triumphs and challenges

Junita and her business have gone through a whirlwind of changes and challenges since then. She rebranded her company to Junita’s Jar Off Site Link in 2018. In 2020, just as her business started to pick up, COVID-19 and shelter-in-place rules took hold of the country, nearly wiping out her progress. She saw things improve when companies started including her cookies in gift and snack boxes for their employees. Her sales also grew following George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis as more people started buying from and investing in Black-owned businesses. She was selected as a finalist for the Stacy’s Rise Project Off Site Link, receiving $10,000, mentoring and advertising support from PepsiCo., the parent company for Stacy’s Pita Chips.

“Things like the COVID-19 pandemic and the shelter-in-place orders, which could’ve wiped me out, really put me in a position to think differently, to be strategic and think smarter,” she says. “Going through those challenges, it gave me permission to choose and unapologetically build profit for my business.”

Junita has taken those learnings to heart in the past few years. Her cookies are now found in Target stores Off Site Link across the country. She works with more food service and retail customers. And she has lined up a deal with a major airline – details on that are forthcoming. Junita hired staff, outsourced the production of her cookies to a third-party manufacturer, and works with an outside marketing firm.

“From there, I saw the growth,” she adds. “It took time.”

The next phase of growth

Junita is now focusing on the next phase of her business – public speaking and storytelling. She works with a business coach to build her platform and become a subject matter expert in female and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) entrepreneurship. Her goal is to share her origin story with larger audiences.

Junita is also planning to launch a podcast in the fall which will bridge her experience with her company’s message of hope and resilience.

“I’m most passionate about encouraging women to take a chance on themselves and do the things they were put on this Earth to do,” she says. “So many of us just need to be reminded that it’s in us.”

The role of Sunrise Banks

Junita says she could never write her business story without including Sunrise Banks.

“Sunrise Banks made me believe in myself when I was doubting everything,” she says. “They believed in me when I was still trying to figure out how to believe in myself.”

In addition to supporting Junita’s business growth, Sunrise Banks invited her to speak on business panels, attend local galas and connect with other entrepreneurs. Her story was even featured in our Banking on Change series in 2021.

But Junita’s relationship with Sunrise goes further than that. She says she feels supported every time she walks into a branch. Whether she is making a deposit or needs help solving a problem, she says the staffers at Sunrise Banks care about making things right.

“Sunrise really believes that if you win, they win,” she says. “And as business owners, that’s what we need.”

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