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EmployABILITY Champion: South Bay Naturals

We sat down with Shuba Subramaniam, owner of South Bay Naturals based in San Jose, to celebrate her business’s new status as an EmployABILITY Champion and to learn what that means to her. South Bay Naturals manufactures traditional Indian carbonated sodas. 


South Bay Naturals at a farmer's market

How did you start your business?

We started in 2019 with juice manufacturing. But when COVID shut everything down, it was difficult to get what we needed to keep the business going because of supply chain issues. We have all this beautiful produce in California, so my partner, who is a beverage scientist, and I decided to create healthy soda options using the available produce and the flavors we know. We officially launched South Bay Naturals sodas in 2021. 


Did you have challenges in starting your business? 

Yes, we did. The biggest challenge was cost and making enough money to cover all the costs. We also had to learn as we went -- trying different flavors and techniques. But all the challenge was worth it because South Bay Naturals is a profitable business now, and we sell out faster than we can make them. 


What does the future look like for South Bay Naturals?

I really believe that the sky’s the limit on our future! This grant is really helping us make our dreams of expanding our flavor offerings and growing the business to offer our products in other states come true.


A tasty drink made with South Bay Naturals soda, mint, and lemon slices

What does it mean to you to be an EmployABILITY Champion? 

This grant is very much in line with our vision as a company, which is to be inclusive, fulfilling, and motivating for all our employees. The grant empowers us to launch dreams and be more inclusive while expanding. 


How do you plan to use the EmployABILITY Business grant to grow your business? 

We’re using the funds to hire individuals with disabilities, purchase equipment to support our new hires, and renovate our warehouse entrance, exit, and bathrooms to be accessible. 


For more information on South Bay Naturals, visit https://www.facebook.com/southbay.naturals/

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Image by Nick Karvounis

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