In an act of (apparent) self-hatred and (apparent) desire to never feel emotionally stable or financially secure, I started a coffee company back in October. I used to not even be able to choke down coffee and now I’m working around the clock hoping that people won’t only choke down my coffee but will legitimately enjoy it.
It’s hard to say how this company was born. But after living in New Zealand, where I’d either get a strange look or a milk shake when I ordered an iced coffee, I started getting creative with ways to cool my hot coffee. I wanted to make it cold but not disgusting and I failed most of the time.
When I left NZ, I was excited to get back to the US, a country where we love everything ice; from bucket challenges to T. Maybe I got addicted to the thrill of finding my own technique but the iced coffee experimenting did not stop once I got home.
Many conversations, failed attempts, and stupid ideas later, here I am with a cold brew that is infused with fresh mint leaves, vanilla bean, or lavender buds, flavored with local and organic ingredients and sold to you in a ready-to-drink 12oz mason jar.
And of course because I can’t do anything alone, my brother and I took a leap and made the company official just days before I turned 27.
Which ended up being perfect timing for me. It’s important to note that I have been obsessed with being 27 for as long as I can remember. Which is strange because of the ages that I’ve reached and will reach, 27 isn’t exactly notable. There’s no new perk that comes with turning 27, like driving does at 16 or drinking does at 21. It also doesn’t aggressively shove you into an older age bracket, like when my cushy parent-paid healthcare was taken away at 26 or when my cushy government-paid medicare will kick in at 65. But for a very long time I’ve been viewing each passing year as another meaningless but mandatory step towards getting to 27.
I can trace this obsession back to when my cousin got married and started having kids. I was 14, she was 27 and she was just about the coolest person to me.
She and her husband were the best – fun and excited about everything. They thought I was cool because I introduced them to songs released post – Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumping” and I thought they were cool because they said things like “fire down a sanny” and “brew dog.”They never seemed like grown ups but I knew they were because they paid for my movie tickets and dinner when I would visit. They were newlyweds, they were new parents, they were the coolest and they made 27 look like THE SHIT.
For a long time I saw 27 as the year I would marry my kickass husband, my first child coming along shortly thereafter. But 27 really snuck up on me and I’m probably just as close to that life as I was when I was 14.
So instead of becoming the fun, easy going, never-appearing-to-be-a-grown-up mom/wife, I’m going to be the busy, stressed, afraid-to-check-my-bank-account small business owner/zombie. Starting this company is a nice introduction to motherhood. I already feel so connected to the whole experience and the similarities between myself and a new mom are pretty crazy.
I find any minor holiday or celebration to dress my mason jars up in adorable theme-appropriate outfits to share on all social media outlets.
Every weekend we set up a table to sell coffee and give out samples and it’s always a hurried scramble to get out the door on time and with everything necessary for an afternoon away from the house. My hands are constantly full and I’m always juggling bags. Bags. So many bags. Where did all these bags come from?
I’m innately and fiercely protective of my small business. I’m suspicious of anyone who wants to get involved with the company – what are their intentions? Are they going to be with the company long term or is this just another notch on their business investment belt?
I also really don’t take input from strangers well and even a casual suggestion of a change to our packaging, approach or brand sends fire through my veins. Tell a mother how to raise her child and a sweep of rage and “who the fuck do you think you are-ness” pierces through their eyes. Same thing happens when you tell me my coffee would be better with milk.
Everything about this small business thing is demanding. Between my day job and the coffee, I barely have time to sleep. And I can kiss those late nights out at the bars goodbye; it’s impossible to sell coffee when all you want to do is eat mac and cheese in your bed.
It’s hard not to compare ourselves to other small businesses and I know there’s no “right” way to do this but I’m constantly worried I’m screwing my company up. It’s a lot of work. A lot. And I really do love it, but sometimes the stress takes its toll and I fantasize about packing up all of the coffee, leaving it safely at a fire station and disappearing into the night. Of course I’d never do it. I take it all as proof that I care.
In the end I want the same thing for my company that any mother would want for their child. To be good, strong, independent and HELLA popular.