Sonya Robinson is the owner of not only Xtraction Smoothies and Vegan Cafe, but also Turnin' Hedz Barber Shop and Hair Studio. Sonya and her husband have been business owners for over two decades. Twelve years ago Sonya did a three month fast. During that time, several business ideas were dropped into her spirit. Xtraction and Turnin' Hedz were only two of them. The inspiration for the smoothies and type of cuisine that her food companies serve derives from her husband, who is from Guyana, South America.
Fancy: Please tell us a little bit about where you are located. (try to be a little descriptive about your city or state as we focus on the beauty of living in the South)
Sonya: We are located in Marietta, Georgia, a suburb that is 20 miles north of Atlanta.
Fancy: So you said you fasted and received your business ideas. What inspired you to fast initially?
Sonya: A friend of mine and I were driving to New York. We were talking about God and His promises and how when you fast you really receive clarity. At that time I was seeking clarity for a few personal issues. I decided at that moment that I was going to go on a fast once I returned from New York.
Fancy: Which came first, Xtraction Smoothie or Turnin’ Hedz, and what was the process of starting it like? Were you hesitant or reluctant?
Sonya: Turnin’ Hedz came first: October, 2010. We officially opened our doors on October 31. We had the keys two days after my fast had ended! We were new to the process of opening a brick-and-mortar business, so there was a learning curve. We had to get business licenses, have meetings with the fire marshal, go over design plans, etc. Additionally, we had to paint, lay tile, install sinks and buy furniture! Even though there was a lot more to do than we realized, we weren’t reluctant at all. My husband and I knew that this was going to be an amazing adventure.
Fancy: Please tell us more about Xtraction Smoothie. What are some smoothies that your brand lists, and dishes that your brand Vegan Café serves?
Sonya: Xtraction Smoothies and Vegan Café serves smoothies, shots, tonics, freezes, ice cream, cheesecakes, brownies, sea moss gel, weight loss tea, cancer tea AND Guyanese-based hot meals! Everything is vegan! We also make chocolate covered strawberries and fruit bouquets, do meal and smoothie prep and cater. Our mission is to be all things healthy, but in a delicious way. Being healthy doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy flavor. All of our 22 smoothies address certain health issues. Some of the most popular are the Alkaline, which is for detox, the Cell Rejuvenator, which helps fight cancer cells, the Drive, which helps with energy and libido, and the Glow, which is amazing for healthy hair, skin and nails.
Fancy: If you had to pick only one item from the menu to suggest to a guest, what would you choose and why?
Sonya: N’Oxtails! Most vegans have not had oxtails in a very long time. Some not ever. It took me two months to create a recipe that had the right texture. It allows those people to really feel like they are eating meat. Some vegans are only vegan for health reasons. They still miss meat. This dish and others help them to feel that they are not missing anything. It is one of our most popular dishes.
Fancy: So what was your entrepreneurial journey like with building and growing your smoothie and vegan restaurant business?
Sonya: The journey to building and growing the smoothie business is much different from the hair business. It took almost two years from signing the contract to even opening the doors. Unfortunately, we ran into a bunch of contractors that were only out for money. We had to keep paying over and over for the same thing. Each contractor told us different things about requirements to open.This was a new industry for us, so we took them at their word. After finally opening, we started with just smoothies, tonics, juices and shots. We introduced food in January of 2020. We started to grow, and then the pandemic started two months later. Because of the unknown, we closed for a few months. After reopening we had to build again. There are many restaurants in Atlanta, but only a few vegan restaurants in Marietta. Fortunately, we have been well received. We make sure that we continue to make fresh food that is different from all others.
Fancy: Do you grow any of the herbs you all use?
Sonya: Not yet, but that is the plan.
Fancy: How would you describe your swagher? What makes Sonya, Sonya?
Sonya: I am someone who has strong determination and faith. If I want something I am very tenacious about getting it. I face challenges with grace. I am always seeking the best course of action to take. When I reach a wall, I re-evaluate and figure out how to climb, go around or dig under it. I am a woman of few words (it took forever to answer these questions, lol), but I am truly a woman of action. I believe in excellence in what I create and serve.
Fancy: What does it mean to you to be a Black woman in business?
Sonya: I am very honored to have the distinction of being a Black woman in business. We face challenges that differ from other groups, so to survive them is a true accomplishment that I do not take lightly.
Fancy: Please list your website and social media.