Alana Andrews is a powerhouse – a businesswoman and motivational speaker who is only eighteen years old. Founder and CEO of SWEY to Play, she has formulated a natural sports drink without added sugars that is designed for Gen Z athletes and especially those who are diabetic. Alana began to build this vision and product in eighth grade, and in five years has launched several flavors, four of which are available as 12-packs on the WMarketplace.
Read Her Story about developing SWEY (which stands for Strong Wise Energetic Youth) and her wonderful advice for other entrepreneurs.
We wanted to be a part of this great mission.
Why did you decide to join The WMarketplace?
We decided to join The WMarketplace because of the work that the platform does in empowering and championing diverse leadership and women in business. It was so inspiring to hear about the value of The WMarketplace. We wanted to be a part of this great mission.
What motivated you to start SWEY?
I founded the company in 2019, but the idea for SWEY to play was ignited from a personal need when I was younger. When I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic. As a child, this was challenging information to hear and expect, especially considering that I didn't know exactly what diabetes meant at that age, but only that my family has a long generational pattern and history of diabetes. Once learning more, I decided that I did not want to become its next victim. For me, this meant cutting my sugar intake and improving my lifestyle both physically and nutritionally. While I was doing my part by working out and eating healthy, I noticed that the stores weren't doing their part. Moreover, within the options of sports beverages, there was a market white space for natural, low-sugar beverages, especially designed for youth and with the diabetic athlete in mind. This is when the problem began to emerge, and I learned that this challenge extended far beyond me. I wanted to create a product for these consumers, but an instrument representing a mission of boundless creation and limitless movement. I became motivated by a generation, which grew into a mentality.
What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you started your business?
I wish I knew more about the complexity of the journey of creating the company. When creating the company, I've learned that there are two rewards in launching any business: the product or service being live in the market, but also the lessons you learn throughout the process and the new perspective you gain and the people you meet and get to work with and learn from. I see entrepreneurship as an opportunity to dream limitlessly. I also wish I knew that it is okay to not know exactly what will happen next. As long as you trust your plan and the process, and move with your mission and vision in front, then the consequence of the risk will be positively vibrant. Now, I've learned that and am grateful to be now applying that to the work we do.
You can create anything you can paint into your imagination. That itself creates so much excitement and room to transfer your vision into entrepreneurial fuel. Always remember that you can do anything you put your mind to.
What has been the most rewarding part of owning your own business?
I would say that the most exciting part of running my own business has been the collaborative aspect of it all. Moreover, being able to work with people along the same mission sparks this kind of innovation that is so exciting to be a part of! I have always had a huge passion for entrepreneurship and being able to pursue a mission and vision connected to that makes it that much more fun!
WDo you have any advice for other women who are getting started in business?
My main piece of advice would be to press “go” on your vision! I think that one of the best things about entrepreneurship is that there are no limits. You can create anything you can paint into your imagination. That itself creates so much excitement and room to transfer your vision into entrepreneurial fuel. Always remember that you can do anything you put your mind to.
SHOP sWEY TO PLAY
Launched in 2020, TheWMarketplace is a nationwide e-commerce marketplace for women-owned businesses to sell their products and professional and personal services. Offering favorable terms to its sellers, it also is a supportive community of women entrepreneurs that have access to learning opportunities through the trademarked HER-Commerce™ programs. With over 500 women-owned businesses selling 4000+ products and services ranging from home goods to coaching, in over 35 states, TheWMarketplace empowers shoppers with a new way to find the communities they want to support, including Black-woman owned, Latina-owned, AAPI-owned, Veteran woman-owned, and more. The Her Story Q&A is one benefit TheWMarketplace provides to sellers.