Smart Smoothies for Lacewell's TREP
Organized by: Marcus Lacewell
Pop up that no longer raises.
July 27, 2016
Marcus Lacewell had a promising future until halfway through his freshman year at N.C. State University.
By Si Cantwell
WILMINGTON | Marcus Lacewell had a promising future until halfway through his freshman year at N.C. State University.
Then came an accident that left him severely disabled. He struggled to regain his health and cope with his disabilities. But for a time, every life plan he made crashed against the limitations of his disabilities.
Today his future is promising again. He's a small business owner, selling smoothies in his roadside trailer.
The business is called Smart Smoothies, named for the yellow Smart car Lacewell uses to tow his trailer.
Marcus turned his life around thanks in large part to help from the Small Business Center at Cape Fear Community.
Marcus Lacewell had it made before December 1999.
He'd been a fierce defensive back on Laney's football team. He went to N.C. State University, not on a sports scholarship but on an academic one. He was studying mechanical engineering.
Then on the day after Christmas 1999, he was riding a motorcycle in Maides Park when he hit a tree. He lay in a coma for two months.
"They told my mom I'd never walk again or think for myself again," he said.
He returned to his mother's Barclay Hills Drive home in April 2000, wheelchair-bound but determined to control his own destiny.
"Some people are OK with letting other people take care of them," he said. "That's a bad feeling."
He did therapy with stroke patients and fought his way back to mobility.
"I always take the stairs instead of the elevator," he said.
Today he walks on his own but he moves with difficulty, slowly and deliberately.
He took a class at Cape Fear Community College "just to see if I could," and the next semester he took three.
He graduated with a associate in science degree, then returned to N.C. State, now studying philosophy with a minor in coaching education. He received his B.A. in philosophy in 2006, he said.
He wanted to coach football. But he was standing on the sidelines of a Laney game in 2001 when players on the field came lurching toward him.
"I couldn't get out of the way in time," he said. Other players moved him to safety, but he realized sideline coaching was not an option for him.
He went to be a personal trainer but "I didn't look the part," he said, standing shakily as we talked.
He would interview for jobs, ones that required a degree, then coaching jobs, then retail positions. He never got those jobs.
He did begin working at restaurants in town, and he got the idea of starting a food business.
He went to CFCC's Small Business Center for help, and talked to Douglas Tarble, the center's director.
"I said, 'Oh my God, this is never going to happen!" Tarble recalled.
Then he got to know Lacewell.
"He's as determined as anyone I've ever met. He has not let any obstacle stop him," Tarble said. "I'm amazed at what he has accomplished."
The SBC helped Lacewell work through the incorporation process and guided him through the maze of health and zoning requirements for a food business.
Lacewell mixes frozen smoothies out of healthful ingredients: banana, strawberries, blueberries and pineapple, spinach, kale and broccoli.
I had the first smoothie of my life there, made with kale, spinach, broccoli, banana and pineapple. It was delicious and refreshing, tart and not too sweet. Smoothies are $4 and worth it.
CFCC's Small Business Center helps entrepreneurs through the entire process of starting a business. There's no charge for any of its services, which include small business seminars and one-on-one counseling.
"We try to get them to the point where they're actually up and running," Tarble said.
Visit the center's website at www.cfcc.edu/sbc for more information.
Column idea? Contact Si Cantwell at 343-2364 or Si.Cantwell@StarNewsOnline.com, or follow him on Twitter.com: @SiCantwell.
Marcus Lacewell has overcome the challenges of physical disability to open his own business Smart Smoothie in Wilmington.
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — When it comes to life’s curve balls, some you swing at and get a base hit, others are a swing and a miss, and then some curve balls you knock out of the park. Marcus Lacewell is the definition of determination.
THE BACKSTORY—> The Wilmington man has been on quite the journey since going from “anything’s possible” to a disabling “you gotta make it happen yourself.” He’s our Extraordinary Person of the Week.
Tucked away off of Market street is a small, portable smoothie business. Inside is an enormous story of determination.
“I just woke up in the hospital and didn’t know what happened,” Lacewell said.
Lacewell is a competitor, an athlete, an unstoppable force of both brains and brawn. But in 1999, a motorcycle accident would bring his world to standstill.
“First, they said I wasn’t going to live,” Lacewell said. “Then they said I was going to be a vegetable. Then they said I’d never walk again.”
But he would. Lacewell, the athelete and scholar, would go on to graduate from Cape Fear Community College and NC State defying all odds. Almost.
“I figured it would be easier to get a job because I have two degrees,” Lacewell said. “That one (degree) would cancel out my new disability. But I was wrong.”
He applied for a number of jobs that required degrees. Folks loved him on the phone.
“I would go on interviews,” Lacewell said of the challenges of trying to find work, “and they would sound excited about my resume, and they’d be like, ‘Come on in,’ but when I came in you could see a face change.”
So Lacewell took matters into his own hands. With the help of Cape Fear Community College’s Small Business Center and some local businesses in Wilmington, he opened up his own business Smart Smoothies. He uses everything he learned about nutrition during his recovery to make unique vegetable and fruit beverages.
“I don’t mind working extra as long as there’s an outcome in sight,” Lacewell said.
So next time you see his Smart Smoothie operation, expect more than just a smoothie.
Expect to meet Lacewell, whose dedication is simply extraordinary.
Lacewell sets up his portable smoothie operation himself. He says it takes him an hour or so in the late morning and then again in the evening. But, now his trailer has reached a point of nonrepair. He said, 'I don't want my disability to make me non-productive so I try to always work. Unfortunately, I have gone thousands of dollars in debt starting my smoothie business and making repairs to my trailer. Now, my trailer can no longer be repaired and I have to be competitive with my smoothie business's appearance.'