we’ve decided it’s super important to use this time (before we have a location) to collect. Yep, we’re talking about collecting things like chairs, tables, toasters and fridges and yep, we’re talking about collecting information like contracts, development approvals and lease agreements. But let me tell you about something we count as even more significant; collecting community.
I’ve spoken openly before about wanting to ‘be the product of the community around us’ and in an effort to actually live this out, I have been seeking people out to meet with and let them speak into our business plan.
Kiasmin is a very beautiful friend of mine .. the classic creative; wild, hilarious and wonderfully spoken! A couple of years ago, she started from scratch with a tiny budget (sound familiar?!) and opened a little hole-in-the-wall cafe in Newcastle, The Tufty. Since then, she’s finished her Fine Arts degree, secured a workspace and creates and sells art fulltime (seriously, Gorman, eat your heart out!) and today, I was lucky enough to steal 2 hours of her time and pick her brain about all things start-up!
Don’t get pregnant in your first year of owning a business!
I’ll admit, I laughed at this at first, but she said it more than once with those I-really-mean-it, raised eyebrows that makes me think this is very important!
Opt for local whenever you can!
Kia looked at every purchase as a chance to build the community around the cafe; why have any old supplier when you can be apart of someone else’s journey – “the more you buy into other’s businesses, the more your networks collide .. and everybody wins”.
She also said that once you see the industry standard for a price, budget it in and then try and source it from somewhere local and totally outside the box. Like, don’t just settle for the ‘everybody’s doing it’ and rise up to the ‘why don’t we..’ kinda attitude! Local tea suppliers, tile manufacturers etc, handmade light fittings etc. not just living the ‘cafe checklist’ kinda life.
No one can replicate your personality
At the end of the day, no matter what, people can copy your ‘look’, they can copy your suppliers, your stock lists, your prices and probably your name – but Kia said, “If you build a business right, from the heart, then people will never forget the way they felt in your cafe” and this is exactly what we’re going for – we want people to talk about how much they love Wildflower … and then mention that we sell coffee!
Community is everything!
Yay! My heart sung with this one, Kia totally backed and confirmed that we’re all in this together; there’s opportunity to be angsty competition-crazed operators but you do not have to buy into it – small businesses should stick together and help each of them get closer to the vision they see for themselves. Not push each other down to have some sort of impossible monopoly over our precious coffee industry.
In the same way, she said make sure your community extends into every arm of your business – don’t act like you ‘exist for the people’ if you’re selling unethical beans, or food/drink products that aren’t even real food, or promote environmentally unsustainable practices. This may not be your cup of tea, but this kinda stuff totally does it for me! Ethical, sustainable and kind all the freakin’ time (definitely has a ‘catch phrase’ ring to it, right?!)
And there you have it, FOUR amazing lessons, hidden amongst a whole page of lovingly scribbled notes, advice, contacts and reminders. How great to be loved and helped by a lady like this!!!