It takes courage to take a new path. To be the first. To pave the way for others. That’s what entrepreneur Marva Morris has done. I interviewed Marva recently to find out her challenges and wins in expanding the healthy beverage Zenedge Energy Drinks. Find out how Marva Morris developed Zenedge, the first African American female-owned energy drink brand.
Disclosure: This sponsored post brings attention to the importance of a healthy lifestyle and also aims to inspire entrepreneurs who want to be pioneers like Marva Morris.
Interview with entrepreneur Marva Morris
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Marva. It is a pleasure to meet you and talk about the legacy you are building through hard work every day.
Marva Morris owns Premier Manufacturing LLC, which owns and manufactures Zenedge Energy Drinks. She has worked in not only the energy drinks industry but also the heavy machinery and plastic containers industries.
Let’s get to the interview!
What inspired you to create Zenedge Energy Drinks?
I was going through a healthy lifestyle reboot and had recently closed down another business when a business broker from NYC approached me and asked if I was interested in buying a healthy energy drink company. The company was offering low caffeine in its formula, and some of their products were natural.
At the time, the industry did not offer anything like that. Later, I took over the majority interest in the company and, in 2020, relaunched the brand and eliminated high fructose corn syrup, added four new natural flavors, and changed the profile of the product and focus towards a “Better for You Brand”.
Currently, only six percent of products in this sector offer healthier alternatives in the energy sector. It’s the fastest-growing sector in the energy drink category.
I love that you’re encouraging others to be healthier! As an African American female CEO, what challenges did you face when first forming Premier Manufacturing LLC?
Some people felt, how do I know anything about manufacturing a product, and is it legitimate? Fortunately, we started with a major co-packing firm in the northeast, and my former businesses had been in packaging in either Food and Beverage or Health and Beauty, so I had already worked in sales of consumer goods packaging.
My biggest challenge was finding funding. My co-founder, Tim McQuaide passed away from COVID-19 in 2020, and he was my investor also. I was able to get my first SBA loan and another loan from the County in December of 2021.
Since then, I won the Big Idea Contest for Food and Beverage for a cash award and other funding, but funding for an AA woman is statistically lower.
I’m sorry to hear about your co-founder. As for your contest win, it is well-deserved. I’m curious, do you notice a diversity problem in the energy drinks industry?
I am the first AA Female Owned Energy Drink. I don’t have a wealthy investor, just a strong manufacturing background, so many companies are hesitant to take a risk. Recently, we got invited by a big box store and a few regional retailers.
Many of the concerns of whether we can perform [have] started to diminish. I am a Unicorn. I don’t just market to the minority community. Our product is needed by the masses, and I think the industry expects me to pigeonhole my brand, and I won’t.
What advice would you give to an African American female entrepreneur just starting out?
Define your own path and don’t be afraid to be authentic, and don’t ever feel that you aren’t enough. Talk truth, speak with knowledge, and perform, and that goes a long way.
Great advice. You have achieved so much! What are your biggest professional accomplishments so far?
I put 25% of the seats in at the current Pittsburgh Pirates Stadium. It was a one-off opportunity because of a family business, but I took the challenge, and I won. Completed the project ahead of time with ZERO percent error and made a profit.
Fantastic. On the flip side, what are some obstacles you’ve faced as an owner? How have you dealt with them?
Being the baby of the family and the only girl and, therefore, left to be the caregiver of both parents. Everyone looked to me, and that was almost the end of my entrepreneurial career.
Divorcing and having to raise four kids alone. All but one have completed college, and that one makes more income than his siblings. He works in Cybersecurity.
Your family is obviously very important to you. Where do you envision yourself in five years?
Handing off my business to my four your adults and becoming Chairwoman of the Board.
Here’s what else Marva Morris wants you to know
Our trademarked slogan is “It’s What’s Inside that Counts”™. You get great taste and a product that helped me return to good health, so I am a believer in what my product did for me.
Although we make no claims, our customers say it tastes great, no jitters, [and] no bad aftertaste. We stand behind our quality.
Reach out to Marva Morris and try Zenedge Energy Drinks
Do you want to connect with Marva Morris? Reach out to Marva through the Zenedge website www.zenedgeusa.com by filling out the Contact Her form at the bottom of the page.
Be sure to connect with Zenedge Energy Drinks on Facebook too.
Want to try the drink for yourself? You can find Zenedge Energy Drinks online at Amazon and Walmart. In-store, the beverages are available at Country Fair and will soon be at Walmart.
Thank you for being here today, Marva, and for inspiring so many entrepreneurs! For more insights into the consumer packaged good industry, check out this review of the book Fire in the Machine.
Top photo via Marva Morris. Edited by Gail Christie.