By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
BLACKWOOD — For Victor and Crystal Cobbs, owning a business is not just about making money but a way to uplift and inspire a community.
That idea is weaved through Ahava Hair Boutique, the hair salon led by Crystal Cobbs at 408 E. Church St. in Blackwood. Since October, Victor Cobbs has taken that idea of uplifting, building up, motivating and educating people to the next step with his smoothie food truck The Green Machine.
Cobbs, who has always been part of a healthy lifestyle as a collegiate athlete and a local high school player, said he long had the itch to leave “corporate America” and felt something like The Green Machine fit his personality.
“As I researched more and more, I knew I wanted to do a different type of smoothie business,” Cobbs said. “I got my first blender in January by February I was handing out our smoothies to everybody who came to our salon on Saturdays. I would just give them out for free to make sure people liked them and what they didn’t like about them.”
Cobbs said the feedback he received from the salon played a critical role in shaping the business. What they did not expect was the worldwide coronavirus pandemic that would eventually shutdown the couple’s salon for months.
Keeping the Ball Rolling
“I said listen, we’re going to keep the ball rolling and we’re going to just pivot,” Cobbs said, in an effort to keep the positive vibes going through the difficulties caused by the business shutdowns in New Jersey. “My wife continued to make her wigs because we do a lot of wigs out of our salon. I said I’m going to start selling our smoothies in our neighborhood.”
Cobbs started selling the smoothies on the weekend and found out they were a hit.
“We were able to get the financing to get our truck and that’s where we are right now,” Cobbs said. “To make a long story short, we finally got approved for some financing. We put all the financing right into the truck. I already knew what the truck would look like in my mind.
“I wanted to inspire people. I wanted to motivate. So on our truck, you will see motivational quotes. All of our smoothies is based off of motivation and health, and excellent words and verbiage,” he said.
The names of his healthy smoothies include such inspirations as Life Is Power, Health Is Wealth, Positive Energy, Green Excellence, No Excuses and Pink Commitment. All our natural made with power ingredients like chia seeds, kale, avocados, cucumbers and/or spinach with fresh fruit.
Cobbs said there is a television on the truck that plays motivational videos while customers are being served.
“We might have some nice soft jazz music playing, but for the most part, I put on anything that’s dealing with motivation,” Cobbs said, highlighting motivational speakers and business leaders like Les Brown and Daymond Johns on the truck. “It’s all about motivation. So we went in a way to be unique to separate ourselves, but really be in the community.”
Cobbs said having a food trucks allows the business to be anywhere in the community.
“We never really wanted to have a brick and mortar location because we want to make sure we can get out to the people and make it convenient for the people wherever they may be,” Cobbs said.
Victor Cobbs said he named his truck after the green 1995 Mercury Tracer he owned while attending college in 2003. He said the reliable vehicle to take him from New Jersey to college in Virginia at least seven times per year, earning the nickname then “The Green Machine.”
The First Step
Crystal Cobbs has been doing hair since a teenager. In 2014, she returned to cosmetology school to go into business for herself. The couple opened Ahava Hair in 2016.
“I knew I had to set my wife up,” Victor Cobbs said. “She had the skill and now she had the certification. I knew once she got started so I could leave corporate America.”
He said the hair salon quickly started turning a profit without debt. Cobbs said despite the challenges from the pandemic, being business owners is like a dream come true.
“One thing my wife and I always wanted to do is own our own businesses and really not only own our own business, but really just be better examples for our children. My 18 year old actually in the process of getting certification in cosmetology as well. So he’ll be able to clean himself up to get ready for that business going forward.
“With the Green Machine added into with it with a salon, every day is a phenomenal opportunity, regardless of how tough it is. It’s a challenge but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Cobbs said his 15-year-old is the athlete in the family, who plays football and basketball as well as runs track. He said their 11-year-old daughter is already an entrepreneur in the making.
“She’s the creator in the family,” Cobbs said. “She’s the one who actually is watching mom and dad very closely. She makes facemasks. She’s doing nails right now with her friends.”
Cobbs said whether it’s at the salon or on The Green Machine, his family hopes not just to run a business in the community but be an active part in it.
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