In April 2020, Skyler Blacknall became a Smoothie King franchise owner at the age of 31. His entrepreneurial journey was no fluke as he grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. His father was an entrepreneur who worked 9 to 5 while keeping a side hustle.
Blacknall knew he wanted to be a franchise owner growing up and when he got his first job, which incidentally happens to be Smoothie King, he started saving towards his goal. At the same time, his wife was in law school.
According to him, he was inspired by his father’s entrepreneurial moves as a kid to also become his own boss someday. “My journey started well over 10 years ago. I always knew I wanted to own my own franchise, so when I got my first job only making maybe $7.75 an hour, I started saving for my goal,” he told QSR Magazine.
Blacknall was struck by tragedy growing up. He lost his mother, brother, and cousin to health-related issues. It was this dark experience that led Blacknall to Smoothie King, where he started as a manager at multiple stores. While at Smoothie King, Blacknall was also planning to eventually own one or become a franchise owner.
Knowing the lack of generational wealth in many Black families, he saved part of his salary to also become a Smoothie King franchise owner. He later secured an SBA loan and applied for a franchise. However, his offer was turned down by Smoothie King because he failed to meet financial requirements.
His breakthrough came when Smoothie King CEO Wan Kim went behind the line on an episode of “Undercover Boss,” and surprised Blacknall with a franchise, according to QSR Magazine. The two remain close today. Now, Blacknall is getting ready to open his second location.
“One of the main things that sparked this journey was I got to meet with a successful franchisee at another company, and I had the opportunity to ask about what it takes to be a successful one,” he said.
“He told me the things to do, and I took notes, and it reaffirmed my ambition and goals that one day I will be a franchisee. Looking back, it was an even bigger blessing than I realized at the time because that conversation is a huge part in getting me to where I am today.”
Blacknall said his ultimate goal is to open and operate 25 different stores, including some outside of Dallas—perhaps in other Metropolitan areas in Texas.
Losing his mother and brother remains one of the lowest points in his entrepreneurial journey. They passed away 6-7 months apart.
“Words could never adequately describe the hole in my heart after experiencing that loss. But I guess it’s like the old saying, ‘what doesn’t kill you, can only make you stronger,’ he said. “Now I wake up every morning feeling blessed because I know that tomorrow is not promised. If anything, it was motivation to go even harder because I always told my mom that I was going to be a franchisee, and she always told me she couldn’t wait to see it, so it was my job to stick it out and become a successful franchisee.”