When Shanae Sheppard was a little girl, she yanked the pacifier out of her baby brother’s mouth.
Despite that early mistreatment, Gerrard Sheppard grew up, began playing football and signed with the Ravens and Green Bay Packers. His older sister transformed from tormentor into protector and began lecturing the 6′2″, 212-pound wide receiver about the food he was putting into his mouth.
The upshot of what the siblings laughingly describe as “tough love” is their business, the Sunset Raw Juice Bar, which recently expanded to a second shop in Fulton.
“What you put into your body is what you get out,” Shanae said.
“After we became vegetarians, we sometimes had to travel for 45 minutes just to get a meal. We started figuring out ways to create meals for ourselves and then realized we needed to bring juicing to the community. We came up with some recipes and started destroying our mother’s kitchen.”
The siblings began educating themselves, meeting with nutritionists and touring juice bars nationwide. Their parents, Larry and Showanda Sheppard, are the siblings’ partners; business meetings are conducted around Showanda’s dining room table in Owings Mills.
“They’re very much hands-on,” Gerrard said. “If we come up with a recipe that doesn’t taste good, they let us know.”
The original Owings Mills location opened in 2017 and was so successful the family opened a branch in Fulton on Dec. 1, 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. Above the counter in the new shop hang wire baskets filled with green and red apples, oranges, lemons and limes that glow like jewels. A menu lists a dozen smoothies and half as many acai bowls (acai is a purple berry cultivated in Brazil) priced between $8 and $10.
The Sheppards are proud that their recipes contain at least half a dozen ingredients, including at least one “super food” such as maca root powder (a popular bodybuilding supplement), spirulina (an algae with antioxidant properties) and hemp seeds (a protein source rich in healthy fats).
The raw juice bar offers a new menu each season. The siblings start with a benefit they want each juice to provide, and then build the taste profile from there.
For instance, as summer approached, Gerrard realized customers would be looking for ways to stay hydrated. The Sheppards concocted a smoothie they’re calling “watermelon bliss” that contains watermelon, pineapple and mint.
On a recent weekday morning, customer Linda Koven picked up four juices and two smoothies — one for herself and one for her assistant.
“The first time I walked in, I was overwhelmed,” said Koven, 63, of Fulton. “But the people who work here are very knowledgeable and they explained the benefits of the different smoothies. And the juices are delicious.”
The Sheppards hope to eventually open branches in three or four additional locations throughout the Baltimore area.
“The four of us in our family have a great relationship,” Shanae said. “When we get together, the word ‘can’t’ doesn’t exist. Together, we’re unstoppable.”