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Helping others has inspired a mouth-watering business

By John Mulgrew

Published 19/05/2015

Belfast Telegraph business correspondent John Mulgrew lunched in Howard Street with Colin Mackey, founder of Mango Street
Belfast Telegraph business correspondent John Mulgrew lunched in Howard Street with Colin Mackey, founder of Mango Street

It was a single moment during a trip to Las Vegas four years ago which set Belfast man Colin Mackey on his philanthropic business journey.

And in the tasteful and subtle surroundings of Belfast's Howard Street restaurant, the 30-year-old reveals the ins and outs of his journey in setting up his charitable cold-pressed juice drinks business, Mango Street.

He's based his one-man business in Sandy Row as part of the South Belfast Social Enterprise Hub - with plans to inject all profits into helping the homeless in Northern Ireland.

"I went to Las Vegas in the middle of a heatwave in August, and saw a homeless woman who was heavily pregnant, and all she wanted was a drink of water," he said.

"It was that contrast between the excess and decadence, right in front of you. That made me think, the world is upside down. Then I saw that back home, and remembered that."

And as the butternut squash soup (Colin) and warm blue cheese fritter salad (me) arrives, he tells me about the merging of his two passions - his healthy lifestyle and an interest in helping those less fortunate.

"It was out of my own interests. When I started seeing there was no-one out there offering this cold-pressed natural juice as a product," he said.

"But I wanted to start a social enterprise, and I believe business should be used for good."

Colin - who continues to work in IT and design to help keep himself afloat as he begins his first foray into the world of business - has had other fleeting careers since first studying a film degree and a master's at Queen's University.

And he took a sideline in selling cars for almost a year, which he said was the "catalyst" for him to begin both working for himself, and helping others.

He then began working in alternative education, helping out young people not working, or in education.

"Mango Street is a social enterprise that crafts cold-pressed raw juice. It's all about reinvesting the profits back into the local community, helping homeless organisations."

Colin says he's about to start trading in the next couple of weeks - setting up a permanent stall at St George's Market to kick off his juice business.

And while we tuck into a zesty lemon tart with zingy raspberry sorbet with dainty peaks of lightly-singed meringue (me) and a white chocolate mousse (Colin), he recounts having to change his business name, after trademark infringement claims from one of the world's biggest drinks firms.

Colin originally set his mind on calling his natural juice enterprise John Appleseed's - but was forced to change it after receiving a legal letter from AB InBev over claims it was too similar to one of their own alcoholic cider brands.

And while it cost him some time and effort, he hasn't been put off, forging ahead with Mango Street - producing a raft of juicy options such as apple, kiwi and lemon.

But he's thinking big, with an idea of franchising the enterprise further down the line, as the lunch draws to a close with the sharp and rich caffeine hit of a good espresso.

Colin had: Butternut squash soup£5.00

Colin had: White chocolate mousse £6.00

John had: Salad of blue cheese fritters £6.00

John had: Bottle of Diet Coke £2.20

John had: Lemon tart £6.00

John had: Espresso £2.30

Total: £27.50

Belfast Telegraph

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