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‘I Was Ignorant to a Lot of Things’: Dr. Sebi’s Teachings Inspire Black Woman to Open Alkaline Water Store

Entrepreneur Savita Jones made history as she reportedly became the first Black woman to open an alkaline water store in Jacksonville, Florida. Alkaline water is thought to offer health benefits and to help neutralize the acid in the body.

“Water is universal, we all like water in different ways,” Jones, the 37-year-old CEO of AlkaVita Alkaline Water, told Atlanta Black Star at her grand opening event. “Water is very important to our skin and our cells.”

Jones, who has operated her water company online since 2016, estimates that she’s sold around 300,000 bottles since she began her business. In 2020, she decided to expand. She held a grand opening on Feb. 20 for her first physical store in the historic neighborhood of Murray Hill in the Westside area of Jacksonville, Florida. The location is across the street from the movie theater she and her sister often frequented as children.

“I see how the area is growing and I just thought this would be a good area to start the business,” the Jacksonville native shared from her unique shop on Edgewood Ave. South.

The entrepreneur admits her lack of knowledge in the industry hindered her from expanding sooner.

“The business initially was supposed to start as a product for a completely different business. So, I didn’t sit down and learn the complete ins and outs of the business. I was ignorant to a lot of things and limiting myself to just selling wholesale retail and [I] didn’t even think about how I could expand more.”

The businesswoman comes from a health-conscious family. Jones, whose grandmother was an herbalist, says health has always been a priority. The teachings of self-proclaimed herbalist and healer Alfredo Bowman known as Dr. Sebi — a Honduran who was not a medical doctor — drew her to alkaline water.

Alkaline water generally has a pH level higher than seven, and also higher than that of plain tap water, according to the Mayo Clinic. A level of seven is neutral, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There are arguments over the benefits of alkaline water, including whether it helps with preventing diseases such as cancer and heart disease, and any potential effects of helping to slow bone loss.

“I found out that it had a lot of different health benefits compared to regular tap water or reverse osmosis water, so it’s an antioxidant, it helps with your skin, it helps with the digestive system, itt helps with cancer-causing free radicals,” Jones said. “It is supposed to keep you hydrated more than regular tap water because you’re able to retain the minerals that you need from the water.”

Results from drinking alkaline water have long been debated. However, AlkaVita Alkaline Water customer LaToya Goodman said she swears by it.

The Jacksonville photographer was introduced to the water in 2018 when Jones demonstrated a testing of the pH levels of water from various sources.

“Once I learned about that, I was able to eat better and also make sure that I’m drinking things that are going to be helpful for me,” Goodman said. “It doesn’t have an aftertaste that some of the waters do,” Goodman said, adding that other types of water may tend to have a metallic taste compared to the alkaline varieties.

Jones said the alkaline water she sells originates from the natural springs of Central Florida.

 “One of the major ones is Crystal Springs,” Jones said. “Heatherwood Spring and the Spring of Life, they are basically natural springs in Florida, so you can get natural spring water without having to add any additives to raise the pH level.”

For anyone trying alkaline water for the first time, Jones says they’ll notice a “completely different” taste from the water that runs out of the faucet.

“Especially if you’re drinking tap water, it might have a strong chlorine smell or taste, and depending on where you live, it might even have a rotten egg smell,” Jones said.

“With our water, it comes from a natural spring,” Jones said.

In addition to selling her brand of alkaline water, the health advocate says the new shop will include a hydration station, a water bar, water softeners and water testing for people’s homes.

“The hydration station is like a refill station, so you can come in and refill your five-gallon jugs or gallon jugs,” Jones said. “It’s going to offer a lot,” she said.

In the future, she plans to expand her store from Jacksonville, Florida, to locations across the U.S.

 The bottled water production industry is a billion-dollar business and is expected to increase by 7.6 percent in 2021, according to industry research firm IBISWorld.

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