Flint entrepreneur brings health and wellness fair to life after participating in crowdfunding class

FLINT, Michigan -- As an entrepreneur who has run a successful company with her husband James in Flint for nearly a decade, Jennifer Johnson has developed a strong set of skills in the business world. A recent crowdfunding campaign and class organized by Flint’s What’s Up Downtown Project helped her expand on that skillset even more.

Jennifer Johnson owns Prestige Janitorial Services and Elations Health.Johnson, a Flint native, owns Prestige Janitorial Services, a commercial cleaning company, with her husband. She also is the founder of Elations Health, a tea company that promotes healthy living. She participated in the crowdfunding course in her role running Elations, as a way to try something new during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the pandemic, I wanted to do something,” Johnson said. “So I filled out an application and went for it, and they picked my idea.”

The crowdfunding class, facilitated by What’s Up Downtown, taught a group of residents the basics of organizing and promoting a crowdfunding campaign. After completing the class, participants successfully raised $20,000 to do 10 events ($2,000 per event) that activated outdoor spaces downtown Flint. So far, events  have included an arts and crafts market in Brush Park and an interactive re-imagination of Riverbank Park that included a light show, music, and other performances.

Johnson’s event, Elations Health Fair and Local Vendor Market, featured several local vendors who provided various health and wellness services and products in Brush Park on August 7. They provided free fruit smoothies for attendees and also had several free activities for kids to participate in.

“This was like me going head first and trying something new,” Johnson said. “I was so happy that all my vendors profited. They were all local, small businesses and they don’t have storefronts or things like that. I'm passionate about health, but I'm also passionate about small business and putting small businesses at the forefront.”

One of the elements of the crowdfunding campaign was that support for it came from all over the country and even from some international donors. 

“It was a unique and fun experience,” she said. “We were all working together, trying to get the word out. And then to see people from Hawaii and some of the other places around the country come in, it was amazing.”

Running her own businesses and operating in entrepreneurial spaces does come natural for Johnson, though. Prestige Janitorial Services has grown over the past nine years. What started as Johnson and her husband doing just about everything themselves has grown into a successful downtown Flint business that employs eight other people. 

A key element in how Prestige operates is creating personal connections with clients and giving back to the community. That passion is also part of what inspired Johnson to launch Elations Health.

“I am really passionate about people,” she said. “And outside of COVID, we’re in a pandemic with general health and weight and diabetes and heart disease. Drinking tea helps reduce some of those risks dramatically. So this is my opportunity to sort of help people change and build healthy habits.”

Johnson loves tea herself, so the business also blends with her personal interests. The business model is different from Prestige, because that is selling a service while Elations Health is selling a product, but Johnson says she’s learning and looking forward to continuing to expand.

She also loves that both businesses are a part of downtown Flint’s continued growth.

“I grew up in Flint, and I still live here now,” she said. “I remember being younger, like my kids’ ages, and there was nothing going on down here. So I really love it to just be a part of everything that’s happening here and to promote health for kids and other people in the community. Flint is home. It feels like we’re a part of change here and to be able to support the growth of our city feels great.”

For more information about Elations Health, visit their website or Facebook page. For information about Prestige Janitorial Services, find them on Facebook.

Read more articles by Patrick Hayes.