As New York City reaches Phase 4 reopening, many Brooklyn small businesses are struggling to stay afloat and are shifting their operations to better suit COVID-19 restrictions.

But for Shay’s Punch, a new small business founded by Sharon Maynard at the beginning of COVID-19, operations are just breaking stride.

As a young Black mother, Maynard is on an entrepreneurial path where education, motherhood, activism and fresh spiked rum punch all converge.

Sharon Maynard is the founder of Brooklyn’s newest rum punch business.

“I started my business simply because I just really love to make rum punch,” Maynard said. “I used to make it all the time for close friends, and quarantine gave me the push to take my skills a bit further.” Maynard had to cut back on work to support her children with remote learning, and said she saw it as a perfect opportunity to work on becoming a full-time entrepreneur.

In February, Maynard began to take orders for her spiked punches and kids drinks through Instagram. Since then, her business has grown through the support of close friends and community members who stand in solidarity with Black-owned businesses.

“It’s all been pretty stressful, but I have gotten a lot of support from Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights parents who are all into supporting Black-owned businesses and local businesses,” Maynard said.

“None of us have experienced a pandemic before. Being in a confined space and having to juggle my own work and manage kids has been a task.”

But even without employees, Maynard has not been doing the work alone. With the help of her seven-and eleven-year-old sons inventory and accounting skills, the juggling act has been significantly easier and a more fruitful process, she said.

“I have been having my sons help out with inventory, labeling things and doing grocery shopping. I’m really trying to raise them with an entrepreneurial mindset, to be their own boss and not fall victim to 9-5 idea we were all fed,” Maynard said.

Maynard also has kid friendly options. Photo: Instagram.

“I want them to think about how they can create generational wealth. These are things I am just learning now in my 30s and I hope to pass it on to them.”

In the near future, Maynard hopes to expand the business and open a storefront. As demand increases, more space is needed to fulfill orders and customers have recently begun reaching out for shipping, which is not yet available given Maynard works alone behind the scenes. But, she said, she was working hard to make this dream a reality.

The immense support received since Shay’s Punch launched has undoubtedly been tied to both Maynard’s ability to bring fun alcoholic drinks to the comfort of one’s home and the push to support Black-owned businesses at height of Black Lives Matter movement.

“Think about what racism means and what opportunities have been afforded to you,” she said. “It’s not enough to say you have Black friends, it’s systemic racism. You have to think about how that affects us–the Black community–and how you can help.”

More information regarding Shay’s Punch menu, order and delivery services can be found here.

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Kimberlean Donis

Kimberlean Donis is a journalist based in Brooklyn. She is a student at Williams College majoring in Political Science and Art History.

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