Meet Shanda from G.R.A.C.E. Elderberry - The Cleveland Moms

Shanda is the owner of G.R.A.C.E. Elderberry, a small woman owned elderberry business in Cleveland.

Hi Shanda, tell us a little about yourself & family – where are you originally from/how long have you lived in town? Children/Ages? 

I grew up in a small, rural town in Ohio also known as Amish country to many. I moved to the Cleveland area shortly after I graduated high school. I have 2 boys. They are 11 and 14. I also have a furry girl, Miss Mady May. She is almost 8.

What are your favorite things to do with your family/favorite things about NE Ohio?

I absolutely love so many things about NE Ohio and Ohio in general.  We are an outdoors family. We love to hike and bike all the trails in various Metroparks, other parks and throughout Ohio and wherever the road may lead us. We love to look for “sea glass” as a family. We find so many cool, eclectic pieces of glass and history. We love the water areas  – rivers and Lake Erie. We also love to find new or existing local establishments to support for shopping and food.

What’s your favorite family-friendly restaurant in our area?

It is really hard to choose just one family friendly restaurant that is our favorite. The top 2 would be Aladdin’s Eatery at any location in NE Ohio and J’s Pizza in Mentor, OH. J’s is our Friday night jam. They make the best homemade, wood fired pizza around.  We will try other wood fired pizza establishments when we travel and none of them compare to J’s.

Please tell us about Grace Elderberry! Why/when did you start it & how did you know this was what you wanted to do? 

To be honest, if you would have told me 5 years ago that I would be doing what I am doing now, I don’t know if I would have believed you. I am a health care professional of 24+ years. I left my career almost 6 years ago to be a SAHM. The only thing I envisioned was being a boy mom “son up” to “son down” and possibly doing some contract work on the side if I wanted to. After being a SAHM for a little over 2 years, I was feeling like I was missing a piece of myself and the career aspect I left. I wanted to continue to help and educate others like I formerly did in my career. I never knew that the longing would find me with an elderberry recipe I created 9 years ago in an effort to keep my family well. In early 2020, I tried to help others experience wellness like we had experienced taking elderberry syrup daily. I offered up elderberry syrup to my friends, friends of friends and family prior to us knowing that we were in a pandemic. Everyone kept coming back asking to get elderberry syrup from me because of the great taste, clean ingredients and they noticed the difference the syrup made in keeping them well. From there, I decided to start the business but after reading the Ohio Cottage Food laws and a few calls to ODH and ODA, I found out the process was so much more than making a product out of my own kitchen. It was going back to school learning all things food manufacturing, exams, finding a food scientist, creating a business from the ground up, the appropriate labels, finding a kitchen and equipment to manufacture, getting licensed and registered with the FDA and so much more.

How has your community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now? 

Everyone has been so supportive. Old friends, family and new friends. I have met so many awesome people along this journey, from subject matter experts in the food and agriculture industry, other product producers and individuals in the food industry. I have gained so many new friends and relationships that I would have never formed otherwise. Since the pandemic and through this process myself during a pandemic, I see how so many people have become more aware and cognizant about supporting the local footprint and how it affects our economy and chain supply downstream. Everyone is so great at sharing about the product with friends and family. I love how much passion is behind the purpose of a product.

What’s your favorite part about what you do? 

I love Science. I love holistic medicine. I also love education. I get to mix all 3 of those together in this venture. When I am manufacturing, I feel like I am back at work with all of the critical care points and necessary documentation to fulfill for compliance and safety. In general, I get to educate about holistic medicine and the great health benefits of elderberries. When I first got started, I didn’t even realize the Science behind it and what it takes to produce a batch of elderberry syrup so I like to share with others because so many people think that I just fill a few jars in my own home kitchen and then ask what I do for the rest of my free time being a SAHM. They do not realize that I run a full operation and do everything that is required for a business from A-Z in addition to all of the licensures, registrations and regulatory guidelines that I have to complete and keep in compliance. I have a whole new perspective with how the blueprint of food manufacturing and distribution functions. I also see the deficits of where maybe I can help make a difference.

Do you have any advice for someone wanting to start their own business? 

My advice would be to focus on God and what His plan is during the valleys and discouragements.  They are going to inevitably come.  It is really easy to quit and it is really hard to bury your feet and stay par for the course.  Seek God in everything and He will guide your path.  I have done it both ways in my life.  Without God and with Him.  I have never had more clarity, wisdom and guidance than when I seek God as to what and how He wants me to proceed.  It’s easy to focus and plan on what “we” want for ourselves and our lives but ultimately, God has a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us.  If He gave you the desire to start a business, then He will give you the tools to make it happen but you have to stay focused on Him.

What’s your proudest accomplishment?

My proudest accomplishment is that I am in the middle of building out my first and very own manufacturing facility. G.R.A.C.E. Elderberry Co. is also Cleveland Magazine’s Best of the East Finalist in the category Best Health Food (Retail)!

Is there anything you would have changed or done differently with your business thus far?

You can contemplate the “what ifs”, right? I do like to reflect to impact positive outcomes in the future. I like to think that I sought out to do the right thing and make the best decisions I could at any given time. I think it is important to not dwell on what I could have changed or done differently because decisions were made the best that I could make at the time I made them. I like to reflect on where I am in the present and what can I learn from the past to help me make the best decisions moving forward.

How do you juggle being a working mom?

That is a LOADED question. Lol With the Grace of God! It is always a challenge. My boys are older now and they both have very different interests and hobbies. I commute them to a school 30-40 minutes from where we currently live. I will say that being a business owner with the ability to carve my work around my children has been a blessing. Not everyone can do that so I feel very fortunate and blessed that I can. I try to embrace the times that I have to work with them as teaching moments instilling life skills about economics and being an entrepreneur. There are so many skills that can be learned and used in everyday life when they get older.

What do you love best about the work that you do?

I am a people person. My favorite part is getting to build new relationships and gain more friends. Truly. I love that I have had the opportunity to give people hope and encouragement. G.R.A.C.E. stands for God Restores All Children Everywhere. So many people see the acronym and ask what it stands for and to explain further. I share that God is grace. It doesn’t matter how many times someone messes up in life, there is God’s grace, His love and His redemption to cover it each time. So many people have shared that they thought they messed up too many times in life, that they didn’t have redemption or hope. I have had people tell me it was divine intervention to talk with me and that they were leaving filled with hope and a new purpose. 1 Peter 5:7 – Give all of your worries and cares to God is on the label of every bottle and weaved throughout my business. People see it and they ask questions or share that they were meant to talk to me that day. At the end of the day, if I was able to give someone hope or encourage them in any way, then that’s the real win. Not selling a bottle of elderberry syrup.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?

I would say personally and professionally, just making an impact socially on whatever that looks like. Wherever God leads me, that is where I want to be. I have learned that there are seasons in our lives that have a purpose and a plan and when a season is over, do not try to hold onto it, let it go and embrace the new season God has for you. There is purpose and beauty in it.  Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season.

Who has influenced you the most to be the mom you are today?

My grandmother. She was a mom of 8 kids but a grandmother of many grandchildren and great grandchildren. She didn’t have any favorites. She loved us all the same. Some of my favorite things we did together like strawberry picking, apple picking, berry picking, going to church and gardening are things I like to share with my boys now. She was such an awesome person and Godly woman. Her house was always filled with so much joy and laughter. She often had Christian music and Christian speakers on her radio in the background. She made the home warm, cozy and inviting, you would want to stay for hours. Some people did. Everyone knew her house was an open door at any given time. They knew she would give them the gift of hospitality and something to eat served up with coffee or tea. She loved everyone unconditionally even if it wasn’t her own family. Everyone knew it too. Even though she had a large family of her own, she often adopted others into her family who didn’t have family, their family lived far away or didn’t come from a loving home. She was very involved in church and the community. She was always helping someone. I never once saw her be judgmental or hear her talk bad about another person ever. She had a candle for each window in her house to let others know that they were always welcome and that they could stop to visit anytime. You often would see her making meals for others and blessing others with her food. She was a very special woman.


For more information, visit:

Join The Cleveland Moms Community

Stay up to date with what is happening in & around the Cleveland community with local events, community highlights, & exclusive deals.